According to The ADHD Foundation, 20% of people in the UK are neurodivergent, meaning 1 in 5 of your clients, employees and subcontractors are neurodivergent. To mark Neurodiversity week, neurodivergent bookkeepers Rebecca & Lawrence Watmore MICB ICPA share advice on supporting neurodivergent clients.

A neuro-entrepreneur is simply an entrepreneur who also has a neurodivergent brain. When someone says neurodivergent, they typically mean ADHD or Autistic. However, it covers many more neurotypes: 

  • Dyslexia 
  • Dyspraxia 
  • Dyscalculia 
  • Dysgraphia 
  • Autism 
  • ADHD 
  • Tourette's 

 Below are a few points on how to support your clients better. 

Communication Differences and Being inclusive: 

  1. The Importance of Asking, Not Guessing: It may seem an obvious one, but don't make assumptions. Start open conversations with your clients about their accessibility needs. This can start at onboarding by simply asking what their preferred communication style is. If you’ve met one neurodivergent person, you’ve met one neurodivergent person.  

  1. Streamline Your Communication Style: Reduce the “fluff” to make your requests clear and concise. For example, “would you mind just looking at X again because I think it might…” isn’t direct enough, just say exactly what it is you need from them.  Use bullet points to make it easier to read and tick off, but limit how much you ask in one go! This will help to avoid overwhelming your client. Be honest if there are lots of bits to do/ask but do it in small chunks. If your client struggles with demand avoidance (PDA), you will need to be careful with your word choice too, the PDA Society has email templates and AI tools can help too. 

  1. Reduce Social Demands: Most neurodivergents struggle with social situations, so limiting how many people they need to deal with helps a lot. You can do this by giving them only one or two points of contact, or simply calling HMRC on their behalf. They are likely to suffer with rejection sensitivity (RSD), you can support them through empathy and by creating a safe space. They may feel more comfortable with you liaising predominantly or solely with a nominated person. Usually this will be a VA funded by Access to Work or a family member etc. 

  1. Create a Safe Space: It’s common for neurodivergent individuals to be cautious of discussing their needs because of their past experiences. Soit’s important to create an environment where your client feels comfortable showing their vulnerabilities and asking for help.  You can do this by offering things to help them “manage” their finances but ensure you don’t start framing things as “fixes” and do not shame them, simply put just be compassionate and curious with your client. Don’t just say you are an inclusive firm, provide that additional support and showcase it in your marketing or on your website, for example including a visual carousel on your posts or alternative text for images. 

  1. Ensure Sure Your Meetings are Accessible: If you meet your clients face to face, consider if there are any sensory issues in the environment where you plan to meet. Always ask in advance for their personal preference, but things to think about include noise levels & lighting sensitivities.  Can you use a private room? Can you turn off the overhead big lights and use lamps instead? Can you meet them out of your office in their safe space? Can you invest in some fidgets your clients can use when at your office? Do you even need to meet face to face for this meeting, can it be done virtually?  


Practical Tools and Strategies: 

  1. Accessible Documents: Offer accessible versions of the documents you send, such as your LOE. Can you send it in a dyslexic friendly font? Can you arrange an appointment to read it through with them? Can you use more visuals? 

  1. A Bit of Pressure & Validation: Make sure you are saying thank you to your clients for sending their receipts. Recognising their efforts and focus but avoid removing challenges entirely. Especially true for ADHDers, as they need some pressure to be able to do the THING! 

  1. Set Additional Reminders and Deadlines: Your client is not lazy, and they do care! But they need additional support. Can you set up extra reminders or give them earlier deadlines so that you have more time. You can offer additional accountability and support, to help them get things done on time, services you absolutely can charge extra for. 

  1. Have Quick Resources: Offer some readily available links and resources to address common questions or concerns, you can have these on your website or customer portal This reduces the need for them to contact you, which is great news for both of you. 

  1. Processing Time & Meeting Notes: Try to avoid pressuring them for immediate answers/actions and respect their need for reflection and processing time, even if they seem happy to go ahead then and there. After meetings send your client a summary detailing what was spoken about and even share recordings & transcripts if you can. This will be helpful for referencing later, on both sides. 


Do you really need to do any of this? 

In the UK 20% of people are neurodivergent, that means 1 in 5 of your clients, employees and subcontractors are neurodivergent. 

More specifically it is likely that 1 in 10 are dyslexic, 1 in 20 have dyspraxia, 1 in 20 are affected by ADHD, 1 in 10 have dyscalculia and 1 in 60 are autistic. Many turn to self-employment, after bad experiences in the workplace. In fact, 30% of business owners are either dyslexic or ADHD, with 20-35% of all freelancers being neurodivergent and university graduates with ADHD being twice as likely to start a business. Research is still being done in these areas, so these percentages are expected to increase over time, but the accommodations you put in place will benefitall of your clients. It is important that we are building firms that are inclusive and accessible to entrepreneurs of all diversity backgrounds and disabilities. You know your clients better than anyone, is there more that you could be doing to support them? 

These figures have been sourced from The ADHD Foundation Charity. If you want to know more, check out a new charity called Prism ND and their project called The Hidden 20. It’s founded by Ben Branson of Seedlip, who is neurodivergent himself.