What we mean when we talk about neurodiversity


The term neurodiversity refers to how everyone’s brains naturally work differently from one another while acknowledging that there is no ‘right’ way of thinking, learning or behaving. Simply put, neurodiversity shows the diversity of how the brain works as a strength and not a weakness.

For there to be neurodiversity there must be neurodiverse people, one in seven of us sit on the neurodivergent [1] spectrum which covers a wide range of hidden neurological conditions. So hidden in fact that studies show that 50% of individuals [2] who are neurodivergent are unaware that they are so, meaning these individuals are without support, language to explain their experience, or any accommodations to make their workplace more manageable.

As there are many forms of neurodivergence, it’s important to understand that not all forms are visible to outsiders so to truly provide support for this often overlooked community gaining a deeper understanding as to the conditions falling within the neurodivergent spectrum is imperative.

What are the most common types of neurodiversity?

Dyslexia, among adults is the most common type of neurodivergent condition - with approximately 10% of adults being diagnosed [3] within the UK. This learning difference  can cause problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing. It is a common misconception that dyslexia affects intelligence, this is not the case.. The symptoms of dyslexia vary greatly from person to person and across age groups with children diagnosed with dyslexia presenting with different symptoms than adults.

Despite dyslexia being one of the most common forms of neurodiversity it is often hidden with those living with dyslexia making countless compromises in order to ‘fit in’ to a neurotypical society.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is most often diagnosed in early childhood, although recent studies have shown that in the UK, prevalence of ADHD in adults is estimate at between 3 - 4% [4]. While ADHD can be categorised into two types of behavioural patterns, most diagnosed will fluctuate between inattentiveness and hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Research shows that much like dyslexia, the symptoms of ADHD vary greatly from person to person and across age groups, with children diagnosed with ADHD presenting with different symptoms than adults. As ADHD is a developmental disorder [5], it is believed that it cannot develop in adults without it first appearing in childhood, suggesting adults diagnosed later in life will have been  overlooked or misdiagnosed in childhood.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects between 1 - 2% of the population in the UK [6] and while the definition of ASD is constantly evolving, the National Institute of Mental Health defines ASD as ‘a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave’ [7]. As the name suggests not every person with ASD will present in the same way across said spectrum. 

Neurodiversity is a range of neurological conditions that change how we think and interact with the world. Although the term includes neurological conditions, developmental disorders, ADHD, and learning disabilities, it’s important to remember that no two brains are the same. Whether you’re neurotypical or neurodiverse, everyone’s way of perceiving the world is unique.

Gaining a deeper understanding of what neurodiversity means and the most common types you’ll encounter will help you better support your co-workers and your team to create an environment where everyone has the chance to thrive. 

At Healix we offer a range of bespoke healthcare benefits to best suit you in supporting your employees when they need it most. A range of neurodevelopmental disorder benefits are available; accelerated access to assessment services, unrestricted treatment networks, guided support, and a focus on clinical outcomes empowers your team to gain the support they need to thrive in the workplace.

You can find more ways to support neurodiversity in the workplace here.

Works Cited

Donaldson.org, https://www.donaldsons.org.uk/...

Mental Health at Work.org, https://www.mentalhealthatwork...

Gov.uk, https://www.gov.uk/government/...

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics...

NHS.uk, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/...

Autism.org.uk, https://www.autism.org.uk/advi...

National Institute of Mental Health, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/healt...

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