Problem Shared

Are you talking inclusively when it comes to neurodivergence?

27 March 2024


Neurodiversity Week falls in March each year. It's a time to celebrate the natural diversity of human minds and the strengths that our neurodivergent colleagues bring to the workplace. That's why it's important we look at neuroinclusive communication within the professional environment, and the changes that we can make to embrace this.  

Why is neuroinclusive communication important? 

Neuroinclusive communication ensures that, as an organisation, we acknowledge the diverse neurological profiles and abilities of all individuals when communicating. This approach allows us to make necessary accommodations to present information in a way that is accessible and inclusive to all. When we communicate neuroinclusively, it benefits both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals. It helps to foster collaboration, enhance understanding, and provide clarity. By facilitating empathy and breaking bias, communicating in this way prioritises the wellbeing of all employees.  

Promoting neuroinclusive communication in the workplace 

Every workforce is made up of a diverse array of employees. By embracing this, businesses and organisations can drive their success, taking advantage of the unique talents and individual perspectives of each staff member. However, in order to do so, employers must prioritise neuroinclusivity.  

So, how can we do this? 


Language provides us with a powerful tool for communication, whether we are speaking directly to our colleagues or communicating in written form. Using neuroinclusive language helps to ensure that everyone can be included in the conversation.  

Neuroinclusive language is affirming and respectful, and avoids the use of any deficit-based language. It is simple and clear, featuring the use of short sentences, and avoiding corporate jargon, metaphors, or idioms. 

Some examples of deficit-based terms and their neuroaffirming counterparts include: 

  • Disorder (deficit-based) versus recognising differences (neuroaffirming)
  • Symptoms (deficit-based) versus traits (neuroaffirming)
  • Treatment (deficit-based) versus support (neuroaffirming) 

It’s important to acknowledge that change can be particularly challenging for neurodivergent individuals. However, the way we deliver information about change can make a real difference. For instance, separating facts into ‘what, when, where, why, how’ categories can reduce overwhelm, and using non-abstract language is key to keeping explanations of change extremely clear.  

Change should be communicated to colleagues as early as possible, and we should encourage people to discuss any concerns they have with their line managers. It may also be helpful to follow up on any written communication about change with a verbal confirmation. As an example, we may choose to send an initial email which describes a particular change using bullet points, neuroaffirming language and visual aids. This can then be followed up with an interactive team meeting, which gives people the chance to ask questions. 

Often, when striving to create a more neuroinclusive work environment, we forget to ask the very people who are best placed to tell us what they need - our neurodivergent colleagues themselves. By actively engaging the neurodivergent community in this discussion, we can gain valuable insights into the challenges they face and how we can address them. This could involve holding a focus group or conducting a survey designed to gather feedback from neurodivergent colleagues on their experiences in the workplace. Remember that many employees may not choose to openly disclose that they are neurodivergent in the office, so this should be carried out anonymously. 

Written correspondence, such as company policy documents or new joiner onboarding guides, is frequently overlooked when thinking about neuroinclusive communication. However, as neurodivergent individuals often process information differently to their neurotypical peers, this should be a priority for any business or organisation.  

Written documentation should be created using neuroinclusive language, but we should also consider the layout of such information. This includes being mindful of factors such as font style and size, line spacing, and the unnecessary use of capitalisation. Each of these can reduce sensory overload for the reader. For instance, using a font size no smaller than 12-point and incorporating 1.5 line spacing can make a document much easier to read. 

Lastly, a neuroinclusive workplace can only be built with the understanding and cooperation of all its employees. With this in mind, consider holding training sessions and workshops to educate your team about the importance of neuroinclusive communication and how to use it effectively.  

Following these five steps will help ensure our neurodivergent colleagues feel included and understood within the workplace. Remember that only your neurodivergent employees can provide accurate feedback about the effectiveness of your current neuroinclusive strategies, so be sure to listen to and act on their input. 

Neurodiversity assessment and support

Working together with ProblemShared, a clinician-led online mind-health provider, we've developed our Neurodiversity Assessment and Support service.

  • Innovative online service with access to experts across the UK
  • Initial needs assessment, typically available five working days from booking, following a GP referral
  • First of its kind UK corporate private healthcare benefit.