How You Can Support Neurodiverse Employees at Your Business

We often think of race, sexual orientation, physical disability, and gender when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. But what about cognitive and mental diversity? According to a study, around 15% of people worldwide are neurodivergent. This could include people in your workplace.

Although neurodiversity is a part of the ADA, it can be challenging for neurodiverse people to feel welcomed and safe at work. This is why business owners and entrepreneurs must support individuals them. 

The Cleveland Clinic defines neurodivergent as a person whose brain has differences that affect how it works. This means that they have varying strengths and challenges compared to people with brains that don’t have these differences. Some conditions affecting neurodiverse people include learning disorders, medical conditions, and mental disorders.

Although we’ve all worked with individuals with different conditions, such as autism and ADHD, we may not have the necessary skills to create an environment that enables them to exhibit their best selves. This is why businesses must include neurodiversity in their DEI plans.

Building Inclusivity in the Workplace


If you have a manager or co-worker who works with a neurodivergent individual, they must be trained to practice compassionate communication and active listening. I typically suggest organizing team talks to help solve issues related to inclusivity. But, for individuals, being the only one who has a specific identity at the table can be isolating.

Having one-on-one conversations with a person who can listen to your concerns is also beneficial for individuals. A manager can be a great ally or partner because they’re responsible for listening to their staff members’ needs and have the authority to make changes to the organization’s policies.


One of the most important factors that businesses can consider when it comes to creating an environment inclusive of neurodiverse individuals is the availability of dynamic spaces. This can be done by creating different work areas that accommodate different needs.

Having a variety of work areas that accommodate different needs can help employees feel more comfortable and motivated. It can also help neurodiverse individuals connect with their colleagues and improve their performance. Creating dynamic spaces can help employees feel like they have a good working environment.

The goal is to create environments that support and encourage workers with varying working styles to perform at their best. Dynamic physical spaces can also be an investment in the well-being of your employees.


One of the biggest mistakes that businesses and employees make is trying to categorize individuals with neurodiverse backgrounds. While it’s true that neurodiversity can overlap with other conditions, it’s important not to label people with these conditions as different.

As leaders, it’s important that we take the necessary steps to ensure that employees feel valued and included in the organization. However, at the same time, we should also avoid making them feel embarrassed or exposed.

To make sure that employees feel valued and included in the organization, it’s important that you regularly train managers and other staff members on how to approach and accommodate individuals with neurodiverse backgrounds.


When it comes to creating an inclusive environment, the first challenge that businesses face is their employees. Many of them may not understand why certain individuals have to be alone in the office while other workers are performing company functions. They may also not understand why some individuals are sensitive to the noise generated by the coffee maker.

Rather than overlooking the behavior of individuals with neurodiverse backgrounds, leaders should regularly train their staff members on how to approach and accommodate these individuals. This can be done through workshops or training sessions.

Creating an inclusive and warm work environment can help neurodiverse individuals thrive and work more efficiently. Having friends and colleagues who can support and encourage an individual with this condition can be an invaluable support system.

As you develop your DEI strategies and plans, consider how your organization can support sexual orientation and racial and ethnic minorities. While it’s important to include everyone, don’t forget about individuals with cognitive and mental disabilities. They need the same respect and inclusion.

To create an environment that’s conducive to the well-being of team members and individuals with mental and physical disabilities, you should establish a variety of physical spaces that are designed to make them feel supported. You can also train employees on how to approach and accommodate individuals with neurodiverse backgrounds.

This article was originally posted on Russ Ewell’s website.


Common Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

Although it can take a long time to find the right candidate, hiring managers can save a lot of money and time by following a process that involves careful consideration. This can help them avoid potential problems and make the most of their time. In this article, we’ll talk about some common mistakes that hiring managers make and how they can prevent them from happening.

Making the right decisions when hiring can save you both time and money. By choosing the ideal candidate for the job, you can potentially lower your turnover rate. A turnover rate refers to the number of employees who leave a company within a certain period. This means that your hiring process can be more streamlined.

Forgetting to Check References

Before you start the hiring process, it’s important that you thoroughly check the references of the candidates. This will allow you to better understand their skills and experience. Another way to identify if the candidate fits the company’s culture is by talking to them directly.

You should ask candidates to provide references, and you should also check their educational credentials. Having multiple references can help you identify if the candidate is honest in their resume. Negative or positive details about the candidate can be helpful in your decision-making process.

Not Having a Phone Interview

One of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your hiring process is by conducting pre-interviews. These interviews can help you clarify the details of the candidate’s resume and provide insight into their capabilities.

After reviewing a candidate’s resume, contact them to schedule a pre-interview. This can be a short phone call that allows you to ask the candidate to clarify their position on certain topics. For instance, if a candidate provides a list of conflict resolution skills, you can infer their application and meaning from this list, but during a pre-interview, you can ask them to clarify.

Not Being Clear and Specific in Job Descriptions

A well-written job description is one of the most important factors you should consider when hiring. It can help you identify the position’s responsibilities and provide insight into the candidate’s capabilities. Having the company’s values added to the description can also help potential candidates assess if they’re a good fit for the job.

A well-written job description is also one of the most important factors you should consider when hiring. It can help you identify the position’s responsibilities and provide insight into the candidate’s capabilities. Having the right keywords in it can help you attract the right candidates.

Not Using Technology

Various technology tools can help improve the efficiency of your hiring process. They can help make it more cost-effective and efficient by automating certain aspects of the hiring process.

You can also use social media to post job openings. In addition to applying for the position on your company’s page, candidates will most likely look for other opportunities through an organization’s page.

One of the most common tools that can help improve the efficiency of your hiring process is software that can be purchased or used online. This software can help you review and filter the applications that come through your website.

Some people still use traditional classified ads to find new jobs. However, people are more likely to search for opportunities through online platforms such as Craigslist and other classified ads.

People are also more likely to search for jobs through mobile devices. Therefore, you must have job listings included in these types of applications.

Rushing Through the Process

Follow the hiring protocol of your company to find the ideal candidate the first time. Doing so can help you avoid having to repeat the process and ensure that you find the right candidate for the job. It can also save you time and money in the long run as you can get the candidate that fits the job description exactly. Conduct more interviews or widen your search to find more potential candidates.

Not Listening to Your Candidate

The goal of an interview is to determine if the candidate fits the role and the position’s requirements. Structuring the interview into two parts can help improve its efficiency. In the first part, you will ask the candidate about their qualifications and the role. You will discuss the role and the candidate’s capabilities in the second part.

To ensure that you’re getting the most out of the interview, ask your candidates to provide you with open-ended questions. This will allow you to get longer, more developed answers. Also, by permitting occasional silence, candidates might be able to offer new insight into their skills or experience.

This article was originally posted on Russ Ewell’s website.

How Technology is Changing Education

Technology has become an increasingly important part of education in recent years. It can be used in a variety of ways, from helping students to learn more effectively to allowing teachers to track student progress more easily. There is no question that technology has had a major impact on education. With the advent of the internet and online learning, there has been a dramatic shift in how people learn and receive information.

There are a number of reasons why technology is so important in education. One is that it can help students and teachers learn more effectively. For example, if a student is having trouble understanding a concept they can use the internet to find resources that will help them learn it better.

However, technology is not only changing how we learn but also what we learn. In the past, students were typically only exposed to information that was available in their local area or through books. However, with the internet, students have access to a wealth of information from all over the world. This increased access to information is changing the way educators teach and students learn.

In addition to changing what and how we learn, technology is also changing where we learn. With online learning, students are no longer confined to traditional classrooms. They can now learn from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. This increased flexibility is giving rise to a new generation of learners who are not bound by geographical boundaries.

Technology is also changing how we assess learning. In the past, assessments were often done through paper-based tests and exams. However, with the advent of online learning, there are now many different ways to assess students’ understanding and progress. For example, online quizzes and tests can provide instant feedback to students and teachers alike. This instant feedback is helping to improve the quality of education overall.

There is no question that technology is having a major impact on education. With its ability to change how we learn, what we learn, and where we learn, it is clear that technology is here to stay. As education evolves, it will be interesting to see how technology continues to shape the way we learn.

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s website.

Hands-on Learning: 101

Education is a very scrutinized area in society. Most people are concerned about global and national averages, test scores, and getting students into college. While the education that young people get is through lectures and reading textbooks, the best teaching method is hands-on. Hands-on learning allows students to do what they are learning in real life. It is essential to show students how to do something rather than tell them. Here are the benefits of hands-on learning.

Improved Information Retention

Hands-on learning is a great way of improving information retention. Students remember more from hands-on learning than from lectures. This type of learning allows students to practice and apply what they have learned in real life.

Increased Confidence

When a student learns by doing, they can gain knowledge and confidence. They will understand how something works and how to use it. Hands-on learning also helps students become independent learners, which is important in the classroom setting because it allows them to learn on their own rather than listening to others’ lectures.


Attentiveness is a huge part of learning. Students need to feel involved and excited about their learning to be attentive. You can achieve this through hands-on learning because students can see how something works and how it is used in real life.

To read the rest of this article visit Russ Ewell’s blog.

Tips for Teaching Your Kids About Boundaries

Changing the way to approach the subject of teaching boundaries altogether is the best tip for teaching kids about boundaries. Some boundaries are easily established to children through example, and others need a little more prep work or reinforcement. It’s a simple task to get a child to answer with a “yes, ma’am” or a “no, sir” if they hear it first. Some people might have to reward their children with praise when teaching the importance of technical niceties like saying please and thanks while making demands. It’s important to remember to keep attention span, vocabulary, and the child’s overall temperament in mind while laying down the rules or demonstrating best practices.

Making a clear and even assessment of the child’s behavior is the first step to take. There might be good behavior already occurring or a previous understanding on which to build. Keep the expectations consistent and simple. Take care not to “stack” issues. Instead, work on simple concepts like table manners and work up to concepts like privacy, honesty, and diplomacy. Be prepared to recognize the fact that every child is a work in progress. Helping them establish boundaries involves a good bit of patience and reflection. Be ready to come down to their level just a smidge.

Due to individual levels of experience and imagination, repetition of concepts and rules may be necessary for children while teaching them new behavior. This is especially true if the best practices involve learning new life skills like reading and writing. It’s all about showing the better way to do things, which requires a slightly open mind. Make sure to keep your own temper in check with a helpful mindset.

When it’s all said and done, remember that you have the power of veto and the upper hand. However, there’s a difference between knowing something and teaching it. Be ready to learn something new.

For anyone who needs to start setting boundaries right now, the following rules and regulations listed should make the task a little less troublesome. Some people consider them to be a roundup of the information above.

Quick checklist:

  • Think about what behavior(s) need to change and their priorities
  • Keep communications calm and clear
  • Maintain steady and consistent values and messages
  • Be ready to respect any boundaries being enforced
  • Vetoes are as simple as saying “No.”

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

What to Understand Before Becoming a Special Education Teacher

As a teacher, you want to make sure that your students are getting the best education possible. But to do this, you need to understand what it takes to become a special education teacher. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to teaching these kids and understanding their needs. This blog post will discuss 5 things that teachers need to know before becoming a special education teacher.

  1. Different types of Special Education

Depending on your state, you may teach kids with different needs and skillsets. In Massachusetts, kids who are deaf, have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disabilities (ID), and other health impairments are all in special education classrooms. The nice thing about this is that you get to know what these kids need academically and neurologically through content knowledge and experience.

  1. Separate Standards

Special education teachers are held to different standards than other teachers. You may not be judged by how many of your kids pass the PARCC or MCAS, but instead, how many of your kids make “mastery” of the standards. This is done by evaluating students on their individualized education program (IEP) goals and objectives that they are working towards.

  1. Different Time Lines

As a special education teacher, you may have different timelines to complete specific tasks. For example, a student with autism may not understand the concept of a timed test and thus may take much longer to complete one. We also work with students on goals/objectives that are taking place over an entire school year, summer vacation included.

  1. Different Curriculum

You may think that you will be teaching fractions and decimals as a special education teacher, however, this is not the case. Some kids with ASD do learn through the use of pictures and symbols, which is where fractions and decimals come in. Other kids need to learn the basics, such as reading and writing.

  1. Different Responsibilities

As a special education teacher, you may have different responsibilities than other teachers when it comes to your students. This includes meeting with parents, paraprofessionals, and administrators to discuss specific concerns and progress; designing and planning lessons for each student following the IEP goals and objectives; implementing differentiated instruction to meet student needs, which may include different accommodations or modifications during assessments.

How to Talk to Kids About Disabilities

Hi! I’m so glad you’re here to read this article about how to talk to kids about disabilities. I know it can be a little scary at first, but the more you practice it, the better you’ll get. Here are some things that have worked for many people with teaching kids with disabilities:

1) Be patient and compassionate:

Kids will be curious, and it’s your job as a parent or teacher to help them understand.

-Let the child come up with their own questions for you instead of trying to answer everything on the spot. That way, they can learn things at their own pace that works best for them. If they don’t ask you any questions, that’s okay! You can always bring it up yourself or just let them know they’re welcome to talk to you about anything.

-Reassurance is essential too. If a child asks if their classmate has cancer and the answer is yes, reassure them that the classmate will be okay.

-Sometimes, kids with disabilities need extra help, but it’s crucial for them to be still treated as just ordinary people and not some “special” kid who requires special treatment from everyone else. They want to do things on their own too!

2) Understand what triggers your child’s anxiety or fears related to disability:

-Sometimes, it’s hard for kids to learn about disabilities because they may be scared of what might happen if something similar were to ever happen to them. For instance, if your child is afraid of getting leukemia like their cancer friend, talk with them and see where that fear comes from. Sometimes talking through fears can help ease the worry.

3) Don’t underestimate the impact of your words on children- they will listen intently and soak up everything that is said:

-This can be super scary, but it’s also awesome at the same time. Kids are really wise and will listen to everything you say about disabilities because they want to learn more! They may even ask questions that seem a little off or strange just because they’re curious.

4) Make sure any accommodations are well documented in writing- this will make communicating easier later when working with teachers, therapists, etc.

-You can try to communicate accommodations verbally, but sometimes that doesn’t work out too well (especially if the teacher is new). Having written documentation means you’ll always be prepared! Even if your child only needs accommodation for one day at school, having them in writing means you have proof that it’s necessary.

-I also recommend keeping track of when your child needs accommodations, so they don’t need to keep explaining themselves every time or feel bad about asking for help. You can use something like a calendar on your phone or computer to note down the date and what kind of accommodation your child needs. That way, you can easily show it to an authority figure if necessary, and they’ll know what’s going on right away!

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

STEM Career Paths for People With Developmental Disabilities

Employment opportunities in STEM fields grow rapidly, but the number of individuals gaining a degree in the fields is still low. It is even lower among students with disabilities. The low numbers create a need to develop more STEM career paths for people with developmental disabilities.

The Pacific Alliance Effort

National Science Foundation runs one of the initiatives to increase the number of students living with disabilities that explore, transition, and succeed in STEM careers. It funds The Pacific Alliance, whose staff supports disability-related, academic, self-empowerment/exploration, and employment barriers for students. The staff members work with students with disabilities at various academic levels whether they are in the STEM pipeline, not yet in, or still undecided.

The Pacific Alliance has four teams called Communities of Practice at local college campuses. The teams have people who share an interest or concern. They collectively engage in activities supporting the education and employment of students with disabilities in the STEM fields.

YolBe Initiative

Chicago-based YolBe(Your Life Only Better) is another organization that supports STEM career paths for people with developmental disabilities. It is a Chicago-based software company and a career networking platform.

The program introduces youth of color with developmental and intellectual disabilities to STEM careers. Participating youth get real-life experience on how it is like to work in a STEM field. Young learners aged 16-24 years participate in online soft skills training lasting eight weeks. Their coaches are Ph.D. candidates. They teach and guide learners to practice with peers on these modules:

  • Communication
  • Networking
  • Teamwork
  • Professionalism

The learners end with a YolBe′s four-week paid internship.

Equal Access internships, according to YolBe CEO David Douglas, were designed to serve those with disabilities. Douglas adds that “Equal Access is a marketplace for organizations serving a population with disability and employers interested in hiring individuals with a disability.”

YolBe offered online internships to increase flexibility and accessibility when marking its second year. Anirudh Paidipally, a 19 year who likes coding, was one of the participants. Paidipally is a Schaumburg resident on the autism spectrum but like HTML. He spent a summer working on code with YolBe through its website and app.

His father Bhaskar revealed Paidipally is always working on the computer while at home. “He is comfortable when sitting on his couch and table but gets anxiety when he goes somewhere else,” said Bhaskar. The internship helped Paidipally as his father works on his habit of freezing when he sees strangers or new situations.

YolBe team is focused on taking more STEM opportunities to the marginalized communities, from training to jobs. The intention is to provide real-life work experience to bridge a gap in information and skills.

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.


People with disabilities and their advocates have spent years pushing for a requirement that medical schools begin to specifically train students on treating people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It may come as a surprise, however, there is currently no standard for such training in the medical community.

In 2019 two proposals were made that would have established a mandate on the standard curriculum of medical schools to include training on the treatment of developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), a group sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges rebuffed the proposals.

Now, in 2020 the committee responsible for creating the minimum standards for curriculum are set to discuss a new, revised version of one of the proposals. The new effort will better prepare future doctors and healthcare professionals to treat people with developmental disabilities

$1.75 million has been allocated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living that will go towards a new initiative over the next five years. As of now, there are five universities that will begin studies on the existing training and create new standardized practices and materials to be incorporated into medical schools’ curriculum.

The new curriculum being developed will be implemented first at Rush University, St. John Fisher College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Minnesota, and Villanova University. There are 30 other schools that will ultimately include the training across a number of healthcare fields. 

The project, “Partnering to Transform Health Outcomes with Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Developmental Disabilities” will be assisted by people with developmental and intellectual disabilities as well as their families through every stage of the training process.

This latest effort by medical professionals and educators to address just how limited doctors’ knowledge of developmental disabilities is. The ultimate goal of the program is to improve the quality of care and the health outcomes for individuals with these disabilities. By better preparing doctors the future of health care will improve immensely, as a population of people, long overlooked, finally get the acknowledgment necessary.

Originally published Russ Ewell’s website.

Great Books Written by People with Disabilities

While it is of the utmost importance to recognize the existence of disabilities and the absolute need for accessibility and representation, it is also important to take the time to celebrate the achievements of individuals who have disabilities. 

One major controversy among the disabled community is the lack of true representation on a number of levels. For instance, all too often non-disabled actors and actresses are cast to play disabled characters while actual disabled actors are left disappointed and struggling to find work. The lack of representation in the disabled community is nothing new. It wasn’t until 1988 that Gallaudet University (A school for the deaf) had it’s first deaf president, and it was only after the students protested and fought to see themselves reflected in leadership.

With these common representation issues in mind, here is a list of great books about disabled characters that were actually written by disabled authors. 

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis is a great work of fiction. It follows an autistic woman named Denise as she navigates the apocalypse. The story takes place in the year 2034 in the Netherlands. The protagonist, Denise tries to find her missing sister while helping her troubled motherboard a spaceship. If you like creative takes on the end of the world, this is a book for you.

Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen

This beautifully done anthology of poetry is written strictly by American poets who live with physical disabilities. The collection explores a number of poetry movements, from language to narrative, and includes writing on blindness, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and many other disabilities. The poets share complex thoughts and feelings surrounding relationships with themselves and their respective disabilities.

No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction by Ellen Painter Dollar

Painter tells her moving life story of living with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a genetic bone disorder. After passing the disorder down to her first child she must decide whether or not to conceive her second child using assisted reproduction to avoid another OI diagnosis in the family. The book does a great job of sharing the many sides of the debate surrounding advanced reproductive technologies.

Originally published on Russ Ewell’s website.