Interview with Dr Ohmar Khine, Executive Director, NWRC

Portrait photo of Dr Ohmar Khine, Executive Director of the Neurodiversity at Work Research Centre
Photo: Dr Ohmar Khine, Executive Director, Neurodiversit at Work Research Centre

Qualitative research has become increasingly recognised for its significant role in advancing neuroinclusion. By looking into the diverse experiences of individuals who are neurodivergent (NDs), it uncovers the specific challenges they may face that often slip through quantitative methods. Dr Ohmar Khine, Executive Director of the Neurodiversity at Work Research Centre (NWRC), stresses this in our conversation about the centre’s recent activities in Thailand.

Dr Ohmar Khine

NWRC promotes neuroinclusion through evidence-based research, focusing on understanding the experience of ND to develop targeted interventions and inclusion policies for public and private sectors. They collaborate with researchers, policymakers, institutions, specialists, and human resource professionals to support businesses in developing inclusion tools, training, and consultancy services for enhancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. The NWRC aims to increase employment opportunities for neurodiverse individuals, promoting business and economic growth through evidence-based research for large-scale inclusion.

Speakers are sharing their neuroinclusion at workplace at one of NWRC event.
Photo: Speakers are sharing their neuroinclusion at workplace at one of NWRC event.

What is the significance of qualitative research in closing the implementation gap for neuroinclusion? How does qualitative research help identify and address gaps in the implementation of neuroinclusion strategies?

Qualitative research is essential for comprehensively understanding and addressing the challenges associated with implementing neuroinclusion. It offers detailed insights into specific barriers faced by neurodiverse individuals that quantitative data may not capture effectively. Researchers use methods such as interviews, focus groups, and roundtable discussions to directly engage with individuals who are neurodiverse and identify obstacles across domains like education, healthcare, employment, and societal acceptance, including issues such as stigma and discrimination.

Steps inclusion specialist lecturing the employees of a consulting client about inclusive employment.
Photo: Steps inclusion specialist lecturing the employees of a consulting client about inclusive employment.

Can you provide an overview of NWRC’s recent projects in Thailand focused on closing the implementation gap in neuroinclusion? How has qualitative research contributed to the success of these projects?

NWRC’s recent projects in Thailand are aimed at closing the implementation gap in neuroinclusion through a range of initiatives. These include conducting qualitative studies to examine thoroughly the challenges faced by neurodiverse individuals, developing tailored interventions based on these insights, and collaborating with researchers, specialists, and HR professionals to implement inclusive policies and practices. For example, NWRC designs customised training programs for diverse management levels in educational and business settings, advocates through awareness campaigns, and offers policy recommendations to cultivate inclusive environments.

What are some key findings from NWRC’s qualitative research that demonstrate the effectiveness of their neuroinclusion initiatives? How do these findings influence policy and practice related to neuroinclusion in Thailand?

Qualitative research plays a crucial role in the success of NWRC’s projects by providing evidence-based insights into the effectiveness of neuroinclusion efforts. Key findings highlight the impact of stigma and discrimination, the critical need for targeted support in educational and workplace settings, and the significance of advocacy efforts in promoting neuroinclusion. These insights inform the development of inclusive policies, guidelines for educators and employers, and strategies aimed at fostering societal acceptance of neurodiversity in Thailand.

What challenges has NWRC encountered in using qualitative research to close the implementation gap, and how were they addressed?

Despite its advantages, NWRC encounters challenges in leveraging qualitative research to address the implementation gap. These challenges include ensuring diverse participant representation, managing biases in data collection and interpretation, and balancing the rigorous demands of research with the urgency of implementing interventions. NWRC addresses these challenges by employing robust research methodologies, fostering collaborations with diverse institutions and specialists, and continuously refining their approaches based on ongoing feedback and evaluation.

What impact have NWRC’s research and consultancy services had on closing the implementation gap for neuroinclusion in Thailand?

NWRC’s research and consultancy services have made a substantial impact on narrowing the implementation gap for neuroinclusion in Thailand. By delivering evidence-based insights and strategic recommendations, NWRC has facilitated systemic changes that prioritise neurodiversity and enhance opportunities for individuals who are neurodiverse. Our contributions have facilitated the adoption of inclusive policies, improvements in educational and workplace environments, and heightened awareness of neurodiversity issues among policymakers, educators, and employers throughout Thailand.

NWRC’s commitment to using qualitative research to advance neuroinclusion in Thailand is yielding tangible results. By addressing the specific challenges faced by neurodiverse individuals, NWRC is not only closing the implementation gap, but also fostering a more inclusive society. As Dr Khine emphasises, understanding the lived experiences of neurodiverse individuals is crucial to crafting effective strategies for their inclusion and support.


White paper - Synthesising the Inclusive Workplace: Thailand
Photo: White paper – Synthesising the Inclusive Workplace: Thailand

NWRC published a  white paper titled ‘Synthesising the Inclusive Workplace: Thailand’. This white paper examines the experience of PWDs, including neurodivergence, as they seek educational, vocational and professional opportunities in addition to employer, advocacy, and policy level recommendations to increase accessibility and inclusion in workplaces in Thailand. This was a collaborative research piece between Steps and Urban Studies Lab, with Dr Ohmar Khine and Dr Drew B. Mallory overseeing the research.


White paper - Empowering Caregivers: Navigating Employment Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities
Photo: White paper – Empowering Caregivers: Navigating Employment Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities

The Neurodiversity at Work Research Centre publishes a white paper titled ‘Empowering Caregivers: Navigating Employment Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities.‘ This paper aims to improve inclusive education for individuals with disabilities by supporting families, promoting inclusive hiring practices, and advocating for government evaluation and monitoring. Dr Ohmar Khine, the Executive Director of the Research Centre, leads the project. The white paper is available in both English and Thai versions.


Survey on Employment for People with Disabilities
Photo: Survey on Employment for People with Disabilities

The Neurodiversity at Work Research Centre has published a survey titled ‘Survey on Employment for People with Disabilities‘. This survey aims to understand the employment situation of people with disabilities in Thai companies and identify companies interested in employing neurodivergent individuals.