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From High School to Work: Addressing the Growing Importance of Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Discussion over Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Neurodiversity, defined as regarding the diversity in brain function amongst individuals, is an ever growing area of interest for many, whether the motive is to become more educated, an ally, or both. This fundamental ideal aligns with the strengths-based model, a framework developed on this definition that empowers neurodiverse individuals to not consider their differences in the brain as deficits, but rather as strengths. Common neurodiverse conditions are Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and Dyslexia.

As the concept of neurodiversity has evolved, through arduous work on behalf of certain changemakers, neurodiversity has been able to make its way into the schooling system in order to support neurodivergent students.

So, as the total number of student graduates in Mira Loma’s history increases for another year, the importance of neurodiversity in the workplace is significant, with various job opportunities that can be filled by accomplished and experienced neurodiverse individuals who may not have a fair chance as of now.

Of course, this does not only apply to Mira Loma itself. In fact, a 2019 article revealed that 14% of public school students receive some form of special education services. While there are strides actively being developed in the schooling system to foster neurodivergent individuals’ success, such as the strengths-based model, many neurodivergent students, after school and having entered the workforce for the first time, find it difficult to assimilate to the new culture either due to bias against their identity, lack of support in the new skills needed, or a combination. Thus, how can we ensure it does not end here? What can be done to create more opportunity after graduation, into the workforce?

Like any solution, the first step is to bring awareness to existing opportunities and increase a positive trend. This can be done by companies evaluating the screening process and having more open-mindedness when it comes to the hiring process. The fact of the matter is that many employers are blindly not considering legitimate candidates who possess the required knowledge and perhaps even more knowledge than required. For example, Microsoft has a specific, tailored Neurodiversity Hiring Program that “seeks to attract talented neurodivergent candidates and provide the training and support needed for career growth and success.” This appears to be a rising trend, and hopefully more companies take notice of it in order to create more of these opportunities.

Many neurodivergent students may have support systems in place, such as 504 plans and IEPS’s in high school and college that help them with student success. Upon graduation from high school and college, many students may not be aware that several accommodations and modifications could be continued in a workplace setting to help with work success. As the time for graduation approaches, school and college counselors can work closely with students to let them be aware of such opportunities, as well.

As new graduates flock to the workforce after school each year, the need to stimulate the trend of supporting and advancing neurodiversity in the workplace in order to support and encourage programs for neurodivergent students is very significant, and thus can continue to develop through awareness and open-mindedness on both sides of the table – the student, knowing their needed accommodations and plans, and the employer, knowing how to help to implement them at that particular job.

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