Taking a person centred approach
This is also called a biopsychosocial approach. It moves away from a narrower ‘medical model’ which supports the diagnosis or labels the person and encourages us to support the person in the context of their lives. This is also a bidirectional approach i.e. if you as an employer get the environment right then the adjustments you need to make for each person are reduced because they are there already.
The impact of the workplace for people who are neuro-diverse will be different depending on a number of factors both the home and in the work setting.
Demands on us (e.g. the tasks we are doing) and the work environment we are in, may change how challenging tasks are for us day to day. e.g.
- We all know if we have slept badly that our ability to concentrate is harder the following day.
- If we have a worry at home, this can affect us at work.
- Taking notes in a meeting maybe harder to do if we are trying to write on paper without a table to support us, or using a pencil rather than a pen.
- Concentrating on a task with a lot of background noise can be harder for some people than if it is quiet.
Impact can also be cumulative i.e. a number of small difficulties can come together and affect the person and reach a ‘tipping point’ e.g.
- Difficulty completing a task in work may cause anxiety, leading to loss of sleep, leading to lowered concentration, leading to poorer work performance.
Not everyone comes to the employer with a ‘formal’ diagnosis. Some people may have struggled in school with spelling for example but never been assessed or given support or guidance.
A person may also have one diagnosis e.g. dyslexia, but in fact have other areas of challenges to a lesser or greater degree. All conditions overlap or co-occur.
Some people may have been misdiagnosed in the past e.g. and may in fact have dyspraxia or ADHD.
- This can happen where symptoms and signs have been missed while in education.
- New more recent learning has allowed greater understanding of the pattern of challenges and strengths.
- If adequate support had been provided while in school (and by parents) and so has ‘hidden’ some challenges until demands increase (e.g. in the workplace) but support provided may have been reduced.
- Because of lack of service provision – this can vary from area to area across the country.
- Lack of awareness of symptoms and signs and impact day to day for example in girls. Until recently there has been far more research undertaken relating to males than females.
Change happens in work and home – be aware that adjustments may need to be reviewed and adjusted!