Creating a Neurodivergent Friendly Workplace with Dr. Liz Slonena | GP 224

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Do you have ADHD? Are there people in your workplace who you know have ADHD? How can these traits be given awareness, and what unique benefits can they bring when they are welcomed?

In this podcast episode, Andrew Burdette speaks about creating a neurodivergent-friendly workplace with Dr. Liz Slonena.

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Meet Dr. Liz Slonena

A photo of Dr. Liz Slonena is captured. She is an ADHD psychologist, speaker, and business consultant located in Asheville, NC.

Dr. Liz Slonenavis an ADHD psychologist, speaker, and business consultant located in Asheville, NC. She’s a connoisseur of nerdy things, from anime to JRPGs. Dr. Liz takes neurodivergent business owners from stuck to inspired using Mindful Hypnosis, a science-backed way to rapidly reduce stress and feel more calm, confident, and creative. If you’re ready to reignite your spark, experience Dr. Liz’s Mindful Hypnosis meditations on YouTube, Aura, and InsightTimer.

Visit Dr. Liz’s website and connect on Instagram and LinkedIn.

FREEBIE: Listen to Dr. Liz’s Meditations on the Aura App

In This Podcast

  • What is neurodivergence? 

  • What to avoid 

  • Creating a supportive work environment 

  • What to do in your practice

What is neurodivergence? 

Neurodivergence holds a plethora of different definitions, so it is an umbrella term, and it could include; 

  • Autism 
  • ADHD
  • OCD
  • Dyslexia 

It is a different lived experience [because] our operating systems are operating differently, like a Mac versus a PC. (Dr. Slonena) 

If you want to be neuro-affirming, you can recognize that your lived experience as a neurotypical person is different from someone else’s who is neurodivergent. 

Therefore, be mindful that understanding these experiences comes from knowing that there are so many other ways that people perceive the same reality. 

Take the time to learn and hear, and listen deeply, to neurodivergent voices and how we can really come together as a community rather than just being split apart and siloed off, because yeah, there’s going to be a lot of folks out there that you may never know are divergent because of masking, and why not make the world a little bit more comfortable? (Dr Slonena) 

What to avoid 

Some neurotypical people may accidentally invalidate the experience of people who are neurodivergent since it’s something that isn’t often seen or interacted with openly. 

Be mindful of microaggressions, especially claiming that “everyone’s a little bit on the spectrum” or has “some type of ADHD”. 

This is so invalidating because that is not true. When it comes down to it, everyone has … executive functioning strengths and weaknesses … Again, it’s a different lived experience that [where] just claiming that you have a trait or maybe you’re a little bit distractible does not mean that you either meet the criteria, or even identify as such. (Dr. Slonena) 

A lot of neurodivergent people’s lived experiences include invalidation from others and/ or chronic masking to perform in a neurotypical world, which can be incredibly exhausting. 

Creating a supportive work environment 

1 – Communication needs: neurodivergent communication needs can be different, so for your staff and your clients, it is important to understand how to communicate with them so that they both understand and feel respected 

2 – Different learning styles: ask your staff; “How do you learn best? How can I best support you?” and take their feedback onboard 

3 – Be mindful of sensory differences: many neurodivergent people are more sensitive to lights and sounds, so consider giving the option of different light sources or ways for them to change their environment within the office that is supportive of their needs. 

4 – Give ongoing feedback and communication: keep your door open so that your staff can come to you and feel safe and comfortable to do so, whenever they have something that they would like to share with you or to discuss with you. 

What to do in your practice 

Whether your staff is neurotypical, neurodivergent, or a mix of the two, it is great for your business and their happiness and productivity that you regularly check in with them.

Ask yourself – and them; 

  • Are these things helping, harming, or hindering the business in any way? 
  • How do you think these things could be improved? 
  • Additionally, make use of templates. Especially for neurodivergent staff, make templates and let them use those instead of having them draw or write things up in their way so that all the systems are aligned and alike. 
  • Simplify things as much as possible: have a big, shared calendar that everyone has access to so that everyone can see what’s available 

I do recommend experimenting to see what does work for you. There’s some really great products out there … I would encourage you to have conversations about this to really learn from others what systems work and don’t, either individually or within the practice itself. (Dr. Slonena) 

    Useful links mentioned in this episode:

    Check out these additional resources:

    Meet Andrew Burdette

    A photo of Andrew Burdette is captured. He is the host of the Grow a Group podcast.

    Andrew founded Mindful Counseling PLLC in Asheville, NC shortly after completing his graduate program in clinical mental health counseling. At the start of the pandemic, he pivoted to an online solo practice, and in 2022, began to grow a group practice. He most enjoys helping clients and colleagues identify what ignites their passions and assisting them in creating a life rooted in authenticity. Andrew approaches his business development with alignment in mind and enjoys the integration process connecting the many puzzle pieces and systems required to run a successful practice.

    Visit Andrew’s website and Apply to work with him.

    Email him at [email protected]