Top tips for working with Clients with neurodiversity – Coaches and Advisers edition.
Hello! This is a shout out to all you fabulous coaches and advisers of all kinds, whether it be for employment, disability support and everything in between. You work so hard, you have a high caseload and you are under pressure to make sure you meet your targets. Your time is precious so let me make life so much easier for you for when you’re working with Autistic people or people with ADHD or any Neurodiverse people (ND). Whether clients are diagnosed or not , my following top tips will make your life easier and hey, you maybe even hit an extra target or two as well.
First, Question – how can you tell if someone is ND if they haven’t told you?
Answer – you can’t! You may notice that this person seems to be blunt or borderline rude, they’re not looking you in the eye, (autistic traits) or they are interrupting a lot and seemed distracted (ADHD) or pausing as if they don’t seem to understand the question (dyslexia) and just as you start to repeat yourself they interrupt and answer (ADHD, autism and dyslexia).
If you have a little knowledge in this area, you may start to join the dots but you can’t know for sure so my first tip is to:
1. Read these tips and make any changes service wide.
They will be useful to everyone, whether people are ND or Neurotypical. You may already be using some of these, so, as I go through, I will explain why it supports ND people in particular.
2. Make the reasons for the appointment clear
Your client may have been referred to you and you may assume they know why. In reality, they likely do not know why, and if they have autism or ADHD, they cannot make assumptions as there are too many variables so make it nice and easy on yourself when you do an introductory letter or call, tell them the following – your name, where you’re from, the reason for calling, the reason for the appointment and the format of the appointment including how long they are likely to be attending and instructions in order to find the venue. You could even add a link to your website including a welcome wall of staff with pictures so they can see what you and the environment look like. If you do I guarantee your attendance rate will go up!
3. Be mindful
Groups of people, new environments and taking in new information can be distracting and overwhelming. For a ND person, this appointment is a huge drain on their energy, they will be stressed out coming in, having to use energy for things many of us take for granted like socialising, getting there on time and processing verbal and written information. They will leave with a huge sigh of relief and likely have a massive nap (or possibly even a meltdown) when they get home. You can really help them by being mindful of all of these things. Have a look at the information you’re giving – is it all text? Can some of it be given in an infographic form? Or can it be bullet pointed? Is it in clear plain language? If not can some of these things be included. Is your induction in group form? What time of day is it? Consider offering flexible options for meeting. Offer quiet times when there will be less people. In an initial call you could explain the format of the induction and ask if they have any sensory issues and if so, offer a different way to do it.
4. Ask how they learn
They may not be in a learning environment but they are learning if you are giving them information. Consider asking your clients – How do you take information in? How do you learn? And give them time to answer. I will often say to ND people, I’m going to ask a question, you don’t have to answer now, I’ll ask again in a few minutes. This allows the brain to process the information. If you ask and expect an answer immediately, chances are they will feel under pressure and awkward which adds to the pressure. They will think they look flustered and this will add to their anxiety. Giving them the time and space to answer can really help both them and you.
5. Finally – Consider expert coaching
Neurodiversity itself can feel overwhelming, but if you understand the fact that all of our brains are unique and take action to implement some or all of the above tips, is essential for success in all forms of business. Expert coaching can give you the space to consider your advisory practice, help you to gain knowledge and understanding of the neurodiverse so you can confidently support your clients and gain top results.
You don’t have to do it alone!
Let our expert coaches guide you with our range of services including company wide awareness sessions and bespoke individualised coaching strategies.
Contact the team for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Bridgeman, Senior Coach, 3SC