Neurodiversity in the transport and travel industry: An exploratory study of knowledge and attitude towards neurodiversity, and perceptions of support and the management of employees with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADD/ADHD and Asperger syndrome

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    Abstract

    This study explored neurodiversity within the transport industry workforce, in particular, salaried workers. Neurodiversity is taken to be an umbrella term which covers dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD/ADD and Asperger's syndrome. Specific objectives of the study were:
    • To explore knowledge of neurodiverse conditions.

    • To understand attitudes towards the notion of neurodiversity.

    • To determine the perceived levels of support and the perceived quality of management of employees with a neurodiverse condition.

    A two-stage research approach was used in order to explore neurodiversity in the transport and travel industry:
    • Seven focus groups were conducted to assess baseline levels of knowledge, understanding and attitudes towards neurodiversity.

    • Twenty three telephone interviews were conducted with transport and travel employees who either have a neurodiverse condition or who manage someone with a neurodiverse condition in the workplace.

    Key findings from the study are:

    • Knowledge of singular neurodiverse conditions, for example dyslexia, was significantly more common than knowledge of the wider range of conditions associated with neurodiversity. Knowledge on neurodiversity was typically acquired from non-employer-related sources of information.

    • Neurodiversity was an unfamiliar term for most people. Once explained most people felt it was a positive term as it emphasised diversity, rather than disability, disadvantage, negative difference, etc. However a minority of people with a neurodiverse condition believed the term to be unhelpful because it over-generalised a wide-range of conditions.

    • Perceptions of support available for the employee with a neurodiverse condition and the manager who manages an employee with a neurodiverse condition differed, typically in a negative way, from official availability of such support. For example, people reported that organisations offered occupational health support, but this was not always relevant in terms of supporting an employee with a neurodiverse condition.

    • Perceptions of how well employees with neurodiverse conditions are supported in the workplace were quite mixed, with perceptions more negative than positive. Issues raised included the impact of cut backs and performance management initiatives, problems associated with disclosure, poor and good employment practice, as well as the positive role that trade unions can play in support practices.

    The following recommendations are made on the basis of the main findings:
    • The development of specific and industry wide policies and procedures to cater for the unique support needs of employees with neurodiverse conditions.

    • The provisions of resources to raise awareness and provide a permanent supply of information related to support for employees with a neurodiverse condition and managers who manage an employee with a neurodiverse condition.

    • The development of specialised line manager training in order to provide vital support for employees with a neurodiverse condition.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherTSSA
    Commissioning bodyTransport Salaried Staffs' Association
    Number of pages37
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

    Keywords

    • Neurodiversity
    • Dyslexia
    • Dyspraxia
    • Dyscalculia
    • ADHD/ADD
    • Asperger syndrome
    • Transport industry
    • Travel industry

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