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Key Truths About Blackness & Neurodiversity 

In the workplace, Blackness can make you a target. People who sit at the intersections of Blackness & Neurodiversity have unique and exhausting challenges.

Black folks are expected to be ‘on’ at all times, be it virtually or in person. We’re expected to code-switch and blend and suppress our mannerisms until they match that of the company culture. 

It’s an unhealthy way for any Black person to function and it especially impacts those with autism. 

As Autism Awareness Month winds down, here are a few key truths to consider when building a company-wide DEI strategy that centers and honors the experience of Black autistic people: 

Black woman stands infront of a tale at work; white man sits at the table with an Asian woman, white woman, and Black man behind him. Everyone has their hands open as if they are questioning what's going on

Black people are often diagnosed as neurodivergent much later in life– if they are diagnosed at all. 

Like every other system in the U.S., the resources and research about people with autism have deep gender and racial bias. Barriers in healthcare also prevent many Black folks from having their questions about a child’s development ignored, leaving many children to grow into adults with undiagnosed and untreated autism. 

These same adults are now having to enter a workforce that is not built to support Blackness and autism. 

A company with a deep commitment to DEI is willing to explore how its processes, procedures, culture, and even its physical space can be barriers to Black autistic folks being able to thrive in their place of work. 

The CEO of ShiftED Consulting sits on a brown couch with er daughter on her lap

Anti-Black biases prevent leadership from recognizing and honoring the needs of Black autistic people. 

White supremacy culture demands that we all process and react to the world in the same ways. Autism Awareness Month teaches us that expecting conformity in the form of mannerisms and how one communicates is not only unattainable but is deeply discriminatory. 

Stereotypes of Black women being angry, unapproachable, or not social enough are rooted in the belief that Black people are inherently violent or to be feared. Neurotypical spaces like corporate settings deeply reinforce these stereotypes, creating increased pressure and anxiety for the Black folks with autism occupying it. Challenging assumptions and honoring the individual needs of each team member is the foundation of a DEI strategy that aims to make a workspace more inclusive and equitable for Black autistic workers. 

Four Black women sit at a table with their laptops open, working

Overstimulating and inflexible environments push Black autistic folks out of your workplace. 

In the era of open office spaces, think through how your company can still create a physical space that fosters connectivity just as much as it allows personal space for team members to get away from noise and distractions. This change is not just a ‘nice to have’ perk– it’s a necessity for autistic Black people. 

While most businesses have returned back to work in-office full time or hybrid, still consider ways to keep your working environment flexible and supportive. Having the freedom to move around as one chooses and to not conform to office politics is a necessity for Black autistic people to thrive in a professional setting. 

Exploring the many ways that Blackness intersects with other identities, and especially with autism, is the start of a successful DEI strategy that seeks to root out anti-Blackness at its core. Schedule your consultation with ShiftED Consulting to begin your journey today!

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