June 12, 2020
I’m neurodivergent: What workplace support is available to me and how can I get it?
If you’re a new employee who’s just started at a company, you may feel uncomfortable asking for the help you need if you have a neurological difference such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism or ADHD – especially if you’re not clued up on the support you’re actually entitled to. Even if you’re no longer the new kid on the block and have been with an organization for years, it can be difficult knowing how to ask for extra help, and you may feel like you should have spoken up earlier.
However, it’s better late than never – and if you’re an employee in the UK, you are entitled to receive certain support in the workplace. So, whichever scenario applies to you, you should feel comfortable asking for additional help from your employer – whether you struggle with reading, writing, memory, concentration, or anything else that can affect the way you work.
At Ayoa, we believe that inclusivity should be at the heart of every business. As a neurodivergent individual, you possess many great skills that organizations (including Microsoft and Goldman Sachs) are looking for, and any great company will be more than happy to provide you with the support you need to thrive.
Whether you’re a neurodivergent individual who lives with one of these neurological differences, or you have a physical disability or mental health condition, there is plenty of support available to help you do your job to the best of your ability. If you live and work in the UK, your employer is legally required to make “reasonable adjustments” for you, and any additional help they can’t provide can be offered through the Access to Work scheme.
So, what support is available to you and how can you access it?
Reasonable adjustments to support employees
“Reasonable adjustments” is a broad and varied term and it refers to any of the changes your employer can make to the workplace to help you do your job. Reasonable adjustments must be made for any individual who has a disability, neurological difference or mental health condition, and you should speak to your employer about ensuring these are implemented for you.
Some examples of reasonable adjustments to workplaces include:
- Installing ramps in the building for wheelchair users.
- Allowing employees with depression, anxiety or another mental health condition to work from home or have flexible working hours.
- Providing a special keyboard to help an employee with arthritis.
- Putting disabled parking spaces closer to the building for disabled individuals.
- Installing an audio-visual fire alarm for a deaf person.
In terms of neurological differences such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism, there are a number of tools and software solutions available on the market to help you with the challenges presented by these conditions, such as processing or recalling information.
Here are some examples of the assistive tech your employer could provide you with:
- Text-to-speech software: This reads typed text back to you in a clear electronic voice, making it useful for anyone that struggles with reading.
- Reader pens: These can help you to process written information faster as they can be used to trace printed words and read them aloud.
- Speech recognition software: This can make it quicker to get down vital information for those who struggle with typing by turning spoken words into digital text.
- Spell checkers: Available on many electronic devices, this will detect spelling mistakes in written work and offer correction suggestions. Many contemporary spell checkers are also able to detect and correct grammatical errors.
- Mind Mapping software: Mind Maps are a highly useful tool for structuring work (such as reports and presentations), as well as memorizing and condensing information. They are also highly visual, which is beneficial for those with neurological differences such as dyslexia.
- Task Management software: These can boost organization and time management skills by enabling users to keep a record of their tasks and deadlines.
If you’re unsure of the reasonable adjustments you need, you can get advice from the Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) at your local Jobcentre Plus office. If you need extra help beyond what your employer is able to provide to you, you can also apply for the Access to Work grant.
The Access to Work grant
If you have spoken to your employer and need additional support, the Access to Work grant is available for anyone in the UK who is already in paid employment or is about to start a new role. The grant can offer assistance of a value of up to £60,700 per person, and this comes at no cost to you, the employee. However, if your application is processed within the first 6 weeks of your employment, your employer is more likely to be reimbursed for 100% of the assistance they provide as a result of the recommendations from Access to Work.
When you apply for Access to Work, you will receive a report detailing the recommended equipment and workplace changes to help you. In the case of neurological differences, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, this is likely to be certain assistive technology tools. If your application is successful, it will be up to your employer to provide the recommended assistance to you.
To be eligible for the Acess to Work grant, you must live and work in either England, Wales or Scotland, be over 16 years of age and have a disability, neurological difference or mental health condition. If you receive certain benefits, this may also affect your eligibility.
How do I apply for Access to Work?
The Access to Work grant is provided by the UK Government, through the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). You can easily apply online or by calling the Access to Work helpline on 0800 121 7479.
For more information on the application process and eligibility, check out our blog on how to apply for Access to Work.
Looking for a tool to help you structure your work, organize your tasks and keep track of important deadlines? Ayoa’s assistive software combines Mind Mapping with Task Management and Team Collaboration features so you can manage your tasks, projects and ideas in a highly visual format while making it easy to communicate with your team.
To find out more about how Ayoa can help those with neurological differences, visit our neurodiversity page for more information.