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Feb

28

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Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Posted by on February 28th, 2019 Posted in: Blog
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“Alexa, what is neurodiversity?” She answers me, “Neurodiversity is the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population (used especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorders).”

When I read last week’s press release from Worcester Polytecnic Institute, “WPI Researchers Urge High-Tech Firms to Leverage Talents of Neurodiverse Workers,” I realized we have come a long way. My perception was confirmed when I read additional data on this topic.  The following statistics were cited in a recent article from Understood.org  about the public’s attitude regarding children with LD (learning disabilities).

  • 79% of Americans believe that children learn in different ways.
  • 96% of parents think that with proper teaching kids can make up for LD.
  • The most positive finding: 8 out of 10 people agree that “children with LD are just as smart as you and me.”

When my son was struggling in school 20 years ago, the term “neurodiversity” didn’t exist. I wish it did! It may have paved the rocky road we had in K-12 , college (and continue to have in adulthood), with a little grease, so when we hit the bumps associated with a significant learning disability we could have slid over them instead of tripping and falling.

Here is the Press Release about the WPI research on the value of neurodiversity in the workplace that gives me hope for the many young adults out there struggling to be valued, as well as gainfully employed, and financially independent.

The research focuses on 5 arguments to encourage high-tech companies to invest in a neurodiverse workforce:

  • Neurodiverse employees often have specialized skillsets not always found in neurotypical or “normal” employees, such as excellent concentration, logic, and visual thought.
  • A workforce with diverse perspectives can help companies create products for a varied consumer base.
  • A growing demographic of neurodiverse people allows companies to be attuned to workforce trends.
  • Neurodiverse workers think and problem solve in different ways, which can lead to greater innovation.
  • Companies that proactively employ neurodiverse people may avoid the need for external agencies to impose quotas.

Did you know that one of the National Library of Medicine’s partner organizations is the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) https://www.nichd.nih.gov ?

NICHD was founded in 1962, with a mission to investigate human development throughout the entire life process, with a focus on understanding disabilities and important events that occur during pregnancy.

Since then, research conducted and funded by NICHD has helped save lives, improve wellbeing, and reduce societal costs associated with illness and disability.

On the NICHD website you can find research as well as information about many health topics related to their mission.

Eleanor Loiacono, researcher and professor in the WPI Foisie Business School says that she hopes her research will help companies that are struggling with making their staff more neurodiverse.

“Including those who are neurodiverse in the high-tech workforce can contribute not only to a company’s bottom line and society’s call for greater diversity and inclusion, it can help promote greater mental health within a society that is facing one of the greatest mental health crises it has ever seen.”

Image of the author ABOUT Susan Halpin
I am a former health and wellness educator who joined the NNLM NER in August of 2016, Excited to be promoting the excellent resources developed by the NLM and to provide training for anyone who would like to access the free and trusted information the NLM offers.

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This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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