Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. It aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and supported by recognising the many talents and advantages of being neurodivergent, to address challenges those with the lived experiences of neurodiversity may face, and to use this knowledge to create more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower individuals.

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is a term that refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that no two brains are alike, and that we all think, process information, and learn in different ways. ‘Neurodiverse’, and also the term ‘neurodivergent’, are commonly used to describe when someone’s brain learns or behaves differently from what is considered ‘typical.

Though the term neurodiverse was originally created to describe those on the autism spectrum, it has since been used to describe all people whose neurological conditions mean they do not consider themselves to be “neurotypical” (a term used to describe anyone who does not have a neurological condition).

The diversity that comes from the inclusion of those who are neurodiverse results in a workplace filled with creative thinking, innovative ideas, increased productivity, unique problem-solving skills and “outside the box” approaches to tasks.

Individuals with neurodivergent traits may meet a diagnostic threshold for neurodivergent differences such as:

Neurodiversity Celebration Week facts that may surprise you.

  • 1 in 7 (15%) of people in the UK are neurodivergent
  • Despite most autistic people wanting to work, just 3 in 10 are currently in employment due to stigma and lack of understanding of their needs.
  • Approximately 25% of CEOs in the UK are dyslexic.
  • Companies like Microsoft, SAP and JPMorgan Chase have recently launched neurodiversity hiring initiatives as research has shown that neurodivergent people bring special talents like problem-solving skills and creativity to organisations.
  • New research published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal has proposed a new theory of human evolution called ‘Complementary Cognition’ which suggests that, as neurodiversity has increased rather than decreased from one generation to the next, there are therefore clear evolutionary advantages to neurodiversity that must be taken into account.

What are we doing to create a neuro-inclusive workplace?

It is essential that we feel comfortable about bringing our authentic selves to work. When we feel comfortable at work, everyone benefits. We are committed to developing a framework of guidance to assist the University with supporting neurodiversity in the workplace, and throughout 2023 we have spoken with a number of neurodivergent employees who have told us their personal experiences of working at Essex. In response, our Neuro-Inclusion Working Group developed a number of recommendations which have now been approved by the University Steering Group.

What we have done so far:

  • Provided training on neurodiversity in collaboration with external training providers.
  • Raised awareness of neurodivergent differences by including information in our Wellbeing Directory.
  • Launched a reasonable adjustment passport which allows for a clear record of what adjustments have been agreed for an employee related to a disability, mental health condition, or long-term health condition. The passport reduces the need to reassess adjustments every time they change jobs within the University or are assigned a new manager.

What we are still committed to do:

  • Creating supporting guidance and training to help managers and employees to challenge bias and stereotypes and to signpost people to support services. A priority focus will be guidance for managers; developing their confidence and knowledge to proactively support their neurodivergent employees.
  • Running a positive action day to encourage neurodivergent individuals within the local community and our neurodivergent students to consider the University as an employer of choice.
  • Sharing personal stories from neurodivergent employees to provide a platform for voices to be heard, experiences to be shared, and members of our community to learn from each other We are very grateful to everyone who has joined the discussions and shared their views so far.

Find out more:

To access our pre-recorded employee neurodiversity awareness session, and to find out more information on some of the neurodivergent differences listed above please see our Wellbeing Directory.

If you are neurodivergent and would like to know more about how we can support you with reasonable adjustments to your work environment, you can find out more on our Staff Directory.

If you would like to know more about our work to encourage disclosure of characteristics at the University, including neurodiversity, please find out more about our Your Profile Counts campaign.

If you would like support in this area, please contact Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing.

Neurodiversity Celebration Week coffee morning

Our Neurodiversity Celebration Week coffee morning is taking place from 10.30 am on Friday 22 March.

Join us in EBS.2.1, or on Zoom, for a Q&A with a panel of staff and students with lived experiences of neurodiversity and / or caring responsibilities for those who have these lived experiences.

Staff and students welcome.

If you’d like to attend in person, please email so we know numbers for catering.

If you’d like to attend online, please register here.