The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder, a condition that affects how the brain develops and functions. Other such conditions are autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 2000, the CDC reported that an estimated 1 in 150 children in the United States were identified as having an autism spectrum disorder. In 2020, the rate increased by nearly 21%, with 1 in 36 children diagnosed with the condition.

Marcia Scheiner, president and founder of Integrate Advisors, an organization located in Midtown East that works with Fortune 500 companies to accommodate neurodiverse talent in the workplace, said that with a growing population who identifies as neurodiverse, companies have a vested interest in changing their practices to accommodate This group of individuals.

“It’s a group of talent that can bring significant value to their organization,” Shiner said. “So if you can provide a more inclusive environment, you make life better for them, and you make life better for your organization.”

Increasing inclusivity, Shiner said, requires various adjustments to talent searches, interviews, onboarding, and then throughout the recruitment period. These changes might include improving the list of required characteristics of candidates, asking more direct questions during the interview, building quiet spaces, and providing ongoing training for employees.

Invest in software

Large companies such as Microsoft, JPMorgan, and Deloitte have pioneered neurodiversity initiatives. Deloitte, which began its program in 2019, says it has seen an increase of nearly 4% in the number of its diverse employees between 2021 and 2022. And small businesses around town have begun investing in these programs in the past few years as inclusiveness has increased. priority.

The Simmons Foundation, a science and maths research firm based in Gramercy, launched the Autism Workplace programme, which offers early career training and outreach, in 2017.

Maria Adler, director of special projects at Simmons, said the company had changed its recruitment process to focus on assessing skills. Adler said traditional interviews are a test of social skills and can distract from a candidate’s qualifications. Instead, the company’s new process gives the candidate a task to complete before the interview. After the candidate has completed the project, the interview is a discussion of his abilities rather than a social skills test.

“We’ve met many qualified candidates who have never had the opportunity to gain work experience in their field,” said Adler. “We hired someone in our finance department who had graduated with a master’s degree nine years ago but could not find a job in finance.”

Adler said the program helped Simons recruit workers in its finance, office operations, technology and hospitality divisions. The company has also established an internship program to prepare candidates for future employment.

The New York Stem Cell Foundation, located in Hell’s Kitchen, is another research firm that has recently launched neurodiversity initiatives. This summer, the Foundation expanded its 10-week training program to include individuals with autism. The company’s 120 employees underwent six hours of training to learn about the neurodiversity in the workforce before the trainees arrived. The reformulated training program provides shorter hours and other accommodations for individuals with autism, based on their specific needs.

“We need (to employ) 100 percent of the available brain power to get access to treatment,” David McCune, the foundation’s chief of staff, told Crain’s magazine.

Minor adjustments

HOK, a global design and architecture firm based in the city center, is making inclusivity part of its strategy. To this end, in 2019 the company created a report that predicts future trends in the workplace based on the accelerated use of technology and other changing cultural factors. The report found that efforts should be made to help individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders adapt to the challenges inherent in blended work, such as how to interact with co-workers virtually and in the office, because picking up and reading social cues can be difficult for some. People with neurodevelopmental conditions.

The company says companies should provide separate spaces for collaboration and individual work as well as soundproofed areas. And the use of neutral and muted colors throughout the office can create an environment conducive to various needs and sensitivities.

Kay Sargent, Senior Director and Workplace Manager at HOK, said the company is now incorporating these types of design needs into all of its projects to best serve companies with diverse workers.

For people like Fitzsimmons, having a workplace that caters to her needs can make all the difference.

“Amenities to improve my job performance, such as a quiet workplace, white noise machine, and noise-canceling headphones, are simple, but they can greatly improve my productivity in the office,” Fitzsimmons said.

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