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Neurotypical vs Neurodivergent Employees

By: Jessica MousseauDiversity Insights
Neurotypical vs Neurodivergent Employees

Trying to understand neurotypical vs neurodivergent employees? Learn about the characteristics and communication styles of each.

In today’s diverse work environment, understanding the spectrum of neurodiversity among employees is crucial. Neurotypical refers to how a brain typically functions, while neurodivergent indicates a brain that functions differently due to various conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, OCD, and more. It’s important to recognize that neurodivergent employees may need accommodations or support, but their intelligence and work skills are not any less than those of neurotypical employees.

Creating a positive work environment enables staff to understand and work effectively with both neurotypical vs neurodivergent team members.

Characteristics of Neurotypical Employees

Neurotypical employees typically exhibit conventional social interaction and communication skills. They can easily understand expectations and can independently organize and manage their work to meet deadlines. They are generally not sensitive to environmental stimuli, such as sounds or activities around them, and have a structured thinking pattern.

What Constitutes a Neurodivergent Employee?

The characteristics of a neurodivergent employee vary depending on their specific type of neurodiversity, sometimes leading to unconventional responses to expectations or social norms. They may be extremely sensitive to sensory stimuli, including sights, sounds, or visuals. They have a more diverse thinking pattern.

Communication Styles of Neurotypical vs Neurodivergent Employees

The distinction between neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals extends into their communication styles, which can impact interactions within the workplace.

Neurotypical Communication: Often relies on verbal cues and traditional norms of social interaction, with a preference for direct and linear communication. Neurotypical individuals may more easily interpret non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions.

Neurodivergent Communication: May include preferences for written over verbal communication, discomfort with direct eye contact, and taking statements more literally. Communication styles can vary widely, necessitating clear and explicit instructions and a flexible approach to interpersonal interactions.

Accommodating Neurotypical vs Neurodivergent Employees

Understanding and accommodating the differences between neurotypical and neurodivergent employees are key to fostering an inclusive and productive work environment. By acknowledging and supporting the unique contributions of each individual, organizations can harness a broad spectrum of talents and perspectives.


What is a neurodivergent employee?

Neurodiversity is a term used to describe those with certain developmental or neurological differences or learning disabilities. They include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, epilepsy, and Obsessive-compulsive disorder, to name a few. A neurodivergent employee is someone who has cognitive differences from neurotypical employees.

What are some ways to accommodate neurodivergent employees at work?

Because neurodivergent employees think differently than neurotypical employees, it can be helpful to offer reasonable accommodations to neurodivergent employees. Quiet workspaces, flexible work hours, and clear written instructions can help these team members work more efficiently.

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