Career Advice for Job Seekers

Neurodiversity at work: to disclose or not to disclose?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels
Sean Kelly
November 18, 2022


When it comes to protecting yourself and your rights in the workplace, there are laws and regulations that can help guide you in your decision-making. For neurodiverse people, one of the most common struggles associated with their neurodiversity at work is whether or not to disclose it to their employer.

Ultimately, this is a personal choice, but deciding whether to disclose your neurodiversity can be difficult due to the (completely understandable) concern about how employers will respond. Neurodivergence –  like autism, dyslexia, or ADHD – is not a bad thing and should never be used against you by an employer, but it still can be a challenging thing to confront in the workplace.

One of the benefits of not disclosing your neurodivergence is that there won’t be any unconscious bias in the interview process or even around the office. If other people don’t know about your neurodiversity, then they can’t treat you differently as a result, even if it’s unintentional.

Not disclosing to an employer can also be a benefit because it gives you control over your own narrative in the workplace. If not disclosing your neurodiversity is what makes you feel most comfortable around your colleagues, then you have every right to choose that.

There are some potential downsides to not disclosing, though. If you don’t disclose to an employer and they make work-related decisions that you’re personally impacted by as a result of your neurodiversity, then you may not be protected in certain situations.

Being transparent about your neurodiversity can ultimately be a good thing, as it actually enables you to receive reasonable adjustments if needed under the Equality Act of 2010. You can’t be discriminated against as a result of your neurodivergence, and being open about it actually requires employers to make any adaptations that might be necessary for you to work most effectively.

Those accommodations can also be made during the interview process, so you might consider disclosing your neurodivergence if you’re looking for a job as well.

Neurodiversity can also provide countless benefits for employers, as people with neurodiversity have been proven to have higher-than-average abilities in areas that include mathematics, problem-solving, and creativity.

At the end of the day, whether or not you disclose your neurodiversity is your decision and yours alone. There are certainly benefits to doing so, but there are also advantages to staying quiet. If you feel that it’s in your best interest to keep it to yourself, then that’s the choice that is right for you. If you decide to disclose it, there are upsides that can make your work experience more suitable to your needs. And, of course, it’s most important to make sure that your employer is disability friendly and that the culture aligns with you and what you need out of a workplace. Ensuring that will make your experience that much better, and you won’t have to worry as much about being comfortable with disclosing your neurodivergence. 

— Article by Sean Kelly. In addition to being an analyst researching the latest industry trends for College Recruiter, Sean Kelly also co-founded a nonprofit local news publication in Savannah, GA called The Savannahian.

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