Practical neuroinclusion tips from the largest autistic-majority organisation in the world

Introducing Auticon: the 80% autistic employer

My name is Emma Walker. I am the Regional Director of Auticon Scotland. Auticon is a global IT Consultancy and social enterprise that exclusively employs autistic consultants. We have offices in 15 countries and employ over 500 people of which 80% are autistic. We are the largest autistic-majority organisation in the world. Our mission is to address the inequalities in employment for neurodivergent adults and showcase the strengths of neurodiversity in society. Here's my practical guide to being more neuroinclusive.

At Auticon we have two main strands to our business. Firstly, our IT consultancy. This is where we started back in 2011. Building on our 12 years of experience of working with and supporting autistic individuals, we have now recently developed our neuroinclusion services, which is designed to help and support organisations to attract, recruit and retain their own neurodivergent talent, and become authentically neuroinclusive. Our vision is, quite simply, to create a more inclusive world.

What adjustments can you make to help your neurodivergent employees?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that there isn’t a 'one size fits all' set of adjustments for neurodivergence.  All neurodivergent people are different.  They all have different strengths and challenges, so the adjustments that suit one person will be very different to the adjustments that will help another person. The list below offers some general suggestions, but it is always better to ask the actual person, as they will know best.

Concentration and focus adjustments
  • Regular Breaks: Allow short breaks throughout the day to recharge.
  • Focused Work Environment: Provide a quiet workspace away from distractions.
  • Timers: Set regular timers to maintain focus.
  • “Do Not Disturb” Signs: Use signs to minimise interruptions during intense concentration tasks.
  • Break tasks down: Breaking tasks into smaller chunks can help focus and time management.
Hyperactivity adjustments
  • Flexible Seating: Consider balance chairs or rise-and-fall desks.
  • Movement Breaks: Encourage walking or using stairs.
  • Stress Balls/fidget toys: Provide quiet outlets for movement.
Verbal and communication adjustments
  • Clear Job Descriptions: Ensure job adverts and descriptions are simple and accurate.
  • Ask Applicants: Inquire about their specific needs during the application process.
  • Adapt Assessment/Interviews: Modify assessment methods to accommodate diverse communication styles for example the opportunity to provide video or audio job applications.
  • Confirm Actions in writing: follow up any actions in an e-mail so they can be referred back to and use dyslexia friendly formatting.
Environmental adjustments
  • Sensory Accommodations: Address noise and light sensitivity (e.g., desk partitions, noise-cancelling headphones).
  • Remote Work Options: Allow work-from-home days to reduce stress and distractions.
  • Flexible Hours: Allow employees to start earlier/later to avoid busy commuting times and work when they feel most productive.
  • Equipment/Software: Speech to text software, specialist keyboard/mouse, mind-mapping software.

Tackle these common blockers to neuroinclusion

Lack of awareness: Many employers have limited understanding of neurodivergence. Raising awareness about different neurodiverse conditions is crucial to fostering inclusion.

Hidden neurodivergence: Neurodivergent individuals often mask their differences due to fear of stigma or lack of disclosure. Employers may miss opportunities to provide support.

Inflexible work cultures: Rigid work structures can hinder neurodivergent employees. Flexibility is essential to accommodate diverse needs.
Negative Feedback Loop: If neurodivergent employees receive negative feedback without proper understanding, it can perpetuate a cycle of underperformance and frustration.

Inadequate Training for Managers and Colleagues: Managers and colleagues need training on neurodiversity to create an inclusive environment. Lack of education can lead to unintentional exclusion.

Overlooking Strengths: Focusing solely on challenges rather than recognizing neurodivergent individuals’ unique strengths limits their contributions.

Inaccessible Communication: Complex jargon, unclear instructions, or lack of alternative communication methods can exclude neurodivergent employees.

Neuroinclusion throughout the whole career cycle?

Supporting neurodivergent individuals throughout their career lifecycle is crucial for fostering an inclusive workplace. Here are some strategies employers can adopt:

Recruitment and Hiring
  • Inclusive Job Descriptions: Use clear, concise language in job postings to attract diverse candidates.
  • Flexible Interview Formats: Accommodate different communication styles during interviews.
  • Disclosure: Encourage voluntary disclosure of neurodivergence to provide tailored support.
Onboarding and Training
  • Individualized Onboarding: Customize training to meet specific needs.
  • Buddy System: Pair new hires with experienced colleagues for guidance.
  • Sensory Considerations: Create a sensory-friendly environment.
Career Development
  • Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship opportunities for skill development.
  • Skill Assessments: Use alternative methods to assess skills beyond traditional tests.
  • Promotion Pathways: Ensure equitable access to career advancement.
Workplace Accommodations
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Allow remote work or flexible hours.
  • Physical Environment: Adjust lighting, noise levels, and seating arrangements.
  • Assistive Technology: Provide tools like screen readers or noise-cancelling headphones.
Social Inclusion
  • Employee Resource Groups: Create networks for neurodivergent employees.
  • Awareness Training: Educate colleagues about neurodiversity.
  • Social Events: Organize inclusive team-building activities
Performance Management
  • Clear Expectations: Set transparent goals and expectations.
  • Feedback: Provide constructive feedback in a supportive manner.
  • Strengths-Based Approach: Focus on individual strengths.


How can employers demonstrate foundational inclusion of neurodiversity?

Employers should focus on the following key principles:

Understand Your Starting Point and Commit to Long-Term Action:

  • Assess your organization’s current practices and awareness regarding neurodiversity.
  • Develop a comprehensive, long-term plan that prioritizes neuroinclusion.

Create an Open and Supportive Culture:

  • Encourage open conversations about neurodiversity.
  • Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their unique needs.

Embed Neurodiversity in People Management Interactions:

  • Proactively consider neurodiversity in recruitment, performance management, and career development.
  • Train managers to recognize and accommodate diverse needs.

Empower Individual Autonomy:

  • Allow neurodivergent employees to drive their own journey.
  • Provide flexibility and personalized support.

Embrace Flexible Working Arrangements:

  • Enable remote work or flexible hours to accommodate different work styles.
  • Ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Prioritize Well-Being:

  • Regularly assess well-being and mental health.
  • Implement strategies to support overall employee wellness.

Amplify Neurodivergent Voices:

  • Include neurodivergent individuals in decision-making processes.
  • Value their unique perspectives and contributions.

An inclusive workplace benefits everyone. By embracing neurodiversity, employers can tap into unique talents and perspectives, leading to a more innovative and compassionate work environment, where everyone can thrive.