Requesting Accommodations in the Workplace for Neurodivergent Professionals

Veronica Yao

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by Veronica Yao

Access to support at work can go a long way in setting you up for success. But the process of requesting them can be overwhelming, especially for neurodivergent folks who struggle with advocating for themselves.

This guide will take you through the steps you need to take to request accommodations or adjustments at work and improve your chances of getting what you need to succeed!

Getting support from employers can be intimidating!

There are three main reasons why neurodivergent professionals hesitate to propose support options to their employer:

  • They’re unsure what to ask for. When it comes to supports, the possibilities are vast, which can be overwhelming to think about.
  • They struggle to communicate their needs. Neurodivergent folks may find it challenging to describe their experiences so that the employers understand.
  • They’re afraid of being rejected. People pleasers and individuals with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) may refrain completely from pursuing support to avoid being turned down.

Examples of Accessibility Supports

Communication & Task Assignment

In the workplace, the way we communicate as professionals can impact how effective we are in our work. As neurodivergent people, we often deal with auditory processing issues, memory retention, and general overwhelm over managing the demands of our job.

Here are a few solutions you can present to your employer to improve communication and tasks assignments in your work life.

If you struggle to remember your tasks and assignments, especially if they are verbally assigned to you…

Ask your employer to assign and deliver all tasks and assignments in writing via email or other suitable channel, with clear due dates.

If you work on a highly collaborative team with a lot of changing aspects to your projects that you can’t keep up with…

Suggest implementing a project management tool for managing task assignments, such as Asana, Monday, Trello, etc.

If you get overwhelmed and anxious when assigned last-minute items or being pulled into impromptu meetings…

Request your colleagues and manager provide advance preparation time for assignment, meetings, etc. Provide outlines in advance where possible.

If you struggle to prioritize your tasks and worry that you and your manager aren’t on the “same page” about how to approach work…

Request regular one-on-one meetings and touchpoints with your manager to ensure all work is progressing smoothly and that you are aligned on priority goals

Workplace Conduct & Interactions

Navigating social interactions on your personal time is tough enough. But when your work life is riding on your engagements with coworkers and management, that can really bring on the pressure.

It’s important to set boundaries early on when it comes to workplace conduct and interactions. Here are a few suggestions to get your started:

If you have sensitivities or aversions to certain types of clothing, fabrics, etc.

Request flexible dress codes where you can prioritize your comfort and sensory needs, so you can focus better on your work.

If you struggle with regulating your energy and emotions when it comes to the workplace…

Request an arrangement for flexible hours and break times so you can manage your well-being and focus when you’re feeling better.

If you find busy work functions and socials overwhelming…

Set a boundary around attending these functions, and let your employer know you will either limit your attended time or opt-out of the engagement.

If you find small-talk and implied language challenging…

Request that your manager and team members use direct, literal language to improve communication and minimize misunderstandings.

If you find it difficult to focus in meetings…

Ask for regular meeting notes for you to review after the fact, or record meetings and use a transcription tool.

Environment & Workspace

Your workspace and work environment have a big impact on how well you are able to perform in your role. Work culture also plays a huge role. That’s why it’s so important to seek out employers who are willing to provide the supports you need to succeed.

Here are some supports you can request in order to optimize your work environment!

Do you have sensory needs that require consideration?

Request a scent-free policy for work; adjustable lighting; access to noise cancelling headphones or sound dampening earplugs.

Are you constantly uncomfortable in your workspace and struggle to focus as a result?

Request adjustments like a standing desk, ergonomic chairs and monitor setup, access to fidget tools and other tools for stimming.

Do your managers and peers understand how to work with people who are neurodivergent?

Encourage your employer to provide neurodiversity training to all staff so they are better equipped to support you at work.

Do you struggle with temperature regulation in the workplace?

Request a personal fan or space heater so you can manage your temperature needs without disturbing others.

Always distracted by activity around your workstation?

Ask for regular access to a quiet room where you can focus on your work. Or request remote work options so you can create your ideal environment at home.

Get your free resource sheet!

Download this free resource sheet complete with examples of accessibility supports, a worksheet for developing your own list of accessibility supports, and more.

Are you neurodivergent and burnt out at work?

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