Division of Occupational Psychology

Neuro-Diversity and Employment

Overview

The aim of this group is to promote, disseminate and develop evidenced-based guidance to improve the working lives of disabled people.

Currently in the UK 1 in 5 adults of working age are disabled and the employment rate is 46.3% as of 2012, this is just over 30 percentage points below that of the general working age population. 

Our first task as a group involved producing guidelines to promote good practice in the psychological assessment of those individuals whose behaviour in the workplace reflects inconsistencies between what is expected of them and their performance. That is, those who have dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADD/ADHD and ASD.  These are currently with the DOP Executive Committee for approval but the draft version is available.

In order to embrace the life-long nature of such conditions, and move away from a purely developmental understanding, we use the umbrella term ‘specific cognitive difficulties’ to represent this group. This also therefore includes people with other ‘hidden’ disability, since many long term conditions affect cognition, such as MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and head injuries.

Groups aims

Our activity is directed toward individuals, organisations and policymakers with the aim of raising the profile of Occupational Psychology in this area and to highlight the contribution we can make to the participation of disabled people in the employment market.

To achieve this we aim to:

  • Share the cumulative knowledge and skills of our group;
  • Raise awareness of the impact disability has on the national workforce;
  • Develop good practice guidance on ways in which to support disabled workers;
  • Promote the contribution of Occupational Psychology to this area to the psychologist community and other stakeholders, such as occupational health;
  • Collaborate on research projects to improve the evidence base for practitioners working in the field of reasonable adjustments;
  • Provide a cohesive voice for Occupational Psychologists to the liaise with the various charities and bodies who support our clients.

Working group members

  • Teresa Hollingsworth
  • Julie Freeborn
  • Sharon Beattie
  • Samantha Allen
  • Gurleen Manku
  • Kaemorine Prendergast
  • Nancy Doyle
  • Nina Parson

Plans for 2015/16

Dissemination and publication

The group will disseminate and publicise its guidance once approved by the DOP. As an expert group we have prepared a series of articles for practitioner journals that discuss different aspects of workplace disability, such as ‘Assessment and Development Matters’. 

We will be presenting at several conferences within the Occupational Health and Psychology fields to promote the role of Occ Psychs.

We will also be running a CPD day as part of the BPS learning centre, which this year included participants from all the BPS divisions, promoting cross-divisional collaboration on getting our services right for psychology clients.

Calls for evidence

When appropriate we respond to calls for evidence, from central government and its agencies, on public policy matters, such as the recent consultation on Access to Work, the disability in employment arm of DWP. 

We also participate in party conference fringe events, raising awareness of hidden disability and disability in employment.

Research

We are also engaged in pooling our client base to conduct research.  We are currently exploring Specific Cognitive Difficulties in adults and exploring what difference a supportive employer makes, which reasonable adjustments are highly rated, and whether there’s a relationship with health outcomes.

The results of these small, practitioner focused research projects will be published in due course.  Last year we presented our findings at the DOP, Society of Occupational Medicine and Health and Well-being at Work.

Downloadable documents

Psychological assessment of adults with specific performance difficulties at work