Working with Neurodiverse Individuals
By SN Inclusion Blog Writer Aiswarya Aluru

As we know today, people on the spectrum may need special accommodations whether it is in the workplace, or a learning environment of some sort. Many schools and companies strive to implement initiatives such as special needs programs, 504 plans, IEP plans, and work programs to make the place more welcoming and comfortable. These accommodations are required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This essentially claims that employers must be able to provide accommodations for those who need it. But what do these accommodations entail? Here is a quick explanation of some of the various types of accommodations people on the spectrum have access to, and what they help with!

All schools (public or private) are required to give access to many different resources to aid in success. More specifically for people on the spectrum, plans are specialized in accordance with the comfortability of said student to contribute to their prosperity on and off campus. Here are two types of plans that are often used to help neurodiverse individuals.

1 - 504 Plan

 A 504 plan provides assistance and accommodations to students with disabilities, according to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act under federal law. It is only considered if a healthcare official (i.e. psychologist, psychiatrist, or doctor) recommends it and diagnoses an individual with a disability. Examples of this are most often mental health disorders and intellectual disabilities. It enables educators to specifically alter learning environments to support students and help them become successful. An example of this is giving assignment extensions, or taking a test in a room without people or distractions. Students with a 504 are also entitled to extra time on exams, if necessary. 

2 - IEP

An IEP is a more specialized plan for students to get aid after being assessed by healthcare officials (testing, observation, history). These students have disabilities that require further assistance, so they can also become successful in an educational environment. 

In the workplace, people on the spectrum have the availability and are encouraged to request accommodations that suit their needs. This is usually paid for or organized by the company or corporation itself, because they want to continue to support their employees. Some examples are:

1 - Specialized routine: A specialized routine may be something like working during a specific time of day, or asking the company for a tangible item to improve work ethic. It all depends on the situation and comfort level, but some may ask for a special working chair, desk, or designated spot in the office. Often, the company will pay for one because they want to see their employees work well.

2 - Quiet workplaces: Working in a quiet room or floor provides calmness and space to think clearly. Some people on the spectrum are sensitive to loud noises and such, so having the option to work in peaceful silence has proven to be successful on many accounts.

3 - Flexible schedules: Having a flexible schedule, including breaks and reasonable hours, is really important. It enables employees to focus when necessary but also take breaks to avoid burnout.

4 - Improving communication: Asking to have a manager or fellow employee to check in on you is common for people on the spectrum. This is because clarification and intentions to improve can lead to success in the workplace. It keeps people on track and creates relationships among fellow employees.

There are a lot of different resources to reach out to or use as schools and corporations are continuing to strive for an environment with equality. There are many things to consider, but all of these accommodations have been proven successful in both education and real-life work experience.

Working with Neurodiverse Individuals
SN Inclusion
12 September, 2022
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