First coined by the sociologist Judy Singer in the late 90s, Neurodiversity is an umbrella term used to describe natural differences in how individuals’ brains’ think and process information. It’s estimated that around 1 in 7 people in the UK have neurodevelopmental differences. 

Common neurodiverse presentations include:

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Hyperlexia

The Neurodiversity Movement advocates that these presentations should not always be thought of as dysfunctional disorders or disabilities, and instead that individuals with neurodivergent thinking should be accepted and their strengths celebrated by society in valuing their differences.

While neurodiverse presentations do not fall under the category of mental health disorders, the impact of living with a neurodiverse presentation can affect an individual’s psychological wellbeing. For example, Mind have proposed that individuals with Autism may have higher rates of depression and anxiety for the following reasons: Autism and mental health - Mind

  • Negative Attitudes, Stigma and Discrimination from other people
  • Differences interacting with the world may prove more challenging in some cases due to differences in reading social cues, or having to adapt to a “neurotypical” world
  • Misdiagnosis: Some experiences of Autism can represent similarities with mental health problems and sometimes be misdiagnosed, leading to people missing out on the right support for them
  • Barriers to Support including long assessment treatment waiting times and an absence of local support services to access may worsen mental wellbeing

Watch the short video below which discusses common Neurodiverse presentations.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that impacts the nervous system, during development from childhood, into adolescent and adulthood. ADHD is characterized by persistent patterns of inattention and hyperactivity, that interfere with an individual's focus and functioning.  

Further information, advice and support for ADHD can be found in the following links below:

Autism is a neurological development condition, characterized by challenges such as social communication, sensory overload and understanding how others think and feel. No definition captures the range of characteristics of those on the spectrum with autism. Many autistic people have behavioural or communicative differences, but their intelligence is not impacted by neurodivergence.  

Individuals with autism or who believe they have symptoms can speak with their GP to gain access to referrals to services that assess and provide support to those with autism.

Further information, advice and support for Autism can be found in the following links below:

  • National Autistic Society - provides information regarding families, adults and children with autism. Contains information and resources about Autism, as well as a directory of local support groups and branches.
  • London Autism Group Charity - A charity for adults with Autism living in London. They run local support groups and community cafe sessions, so individuals can make connections with similar people. They also provide resources and information on Autism, advocacy and consultancy services to organisations.
  • Autistic Doctors International - A group of autistic medical doctors who share a vision. They provide peer support and a safe space for their members. They also advocate and provide a voice for both members and individuals with autism widely.
  • Autism - Autistica is a research charity running projects to improve the lives of individuals with an Autism diagnosis. Has evidence-based information about signs of Autism, co-occurring conditions and a podcast about latest research.

Watch Tom’s account of his experience with Autism and the support he receives as an employee of the NHS.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which affects one’s reading, writing and spelling, with around 10% of the UK population having a Dyslexia diagnosis. Similar to Autism and ADHD, intelligence is not affected. Often signs of dyslexia are first spotted during early school years and some individuals require additional support for tasks. Employers are required to make reasonable workplace adjustments to help people with dyslexia such as extra time for specific tasks, and if needed can request assistive technologies and equipment.

Further information, advice and support for Dyslexia can be found in the following links below:

  • Dyslexia - NHS  - Information on signs and symptoms, assessment and support recommendations, in addition to resources for Dyslexia.
  • British Dyslexia Association - an organisation for individuals who have Dyslexia or a suspected Dyslexia diagnosis. Information, resources and events feature on their website and this organisation can also help in arranging a Dyslexia assessment. They regularly run trainings for educational staff and employers on how to support employees with Dyslexia.
  • The Dyslexia Association - an organisation which provides support and services for children and adults, parents, families, educators, employers and the wider community for Dyslexia. They can also help in arranging assessments for school and the workplace, as well as provide trainings.
  • Dyslexia Association of London - a London-based organisation which runs events, support groups, webinars and meetings.  Membership of the group is open to individuals, parents, teachers and to all interested in Dyslexia. This service runs a monthly support group for adults in Pimlico, as well as offer a platform for referring for counselling for individuals with Dyslexia to GroOops Dyslexia Aware Counselling.

Watch Richard’s account of his experience with Dyslexia during his medical training and employment.

Dyspraxia is characterized as having a learning difficulty affecting motor coordination, balance and organisation abilities. Some activities are impacted like sports, writing, driving and other educational or recreational activities. However, it does not impact intelligence. 10% of individuals within the UK have at least mild to moderate dyspraxia.

Watch this video below discussing the strengths and challenges of dyspraxia in the workplace and how attending a dyspraxia foundation workshop boosted their self-advocacy and employability.

Further information, advice and support for Dyspraxia can be found in the following links below:

  • Dyspraxia Foundation - Dyspraxia foundation provides information regarding dyspraxia and has local support groups with those you can share your experience with. They also have a helpline - 01462 454986, where you can request support and advice.
  • Movement Matters - Movement Matters is committed to making research accessible to non-scientific communities, such as families, individuals with Dyspraxia and anyone else who might benefit from the provided information. This organisation encourages accessible research findings to be shared with the non-scientific community on the Movement Matters website.
  • What is Dyspraxia? - A website that provides information on neurodiversity and discusses the symptoms, causes and strengths of those with dyspraxia.

Other services which neurodivergent individuals may find helpful for practical support and advice in the workplace including the following:

The video below features NHS staff members discussing their experiences of neurodiversity, particularly in the workplace.