Umbrella US

You can Open Doors for ND Belonging with us in a variety of ways.

Research Partnership

Reimagining Work and the Strength-Based Approach to it

The Research

Umbrella US started with a task-based system for volunteers to choose tasks based on their preferences.

They would prefer a strengths-based approach that energizes neurodivergent individuals as they access fulfilling work through self-awareness and advocacy.

The research team, led by Michelle Thuma, believes that an initiative to map individual strengths, interests, and challenges with tasks and roles while also considering multiple intersecting identities of workers will create sustainability in staff engagement and commitment; recruitment, retention, and development.

Work Defined

“Work” is a broad definition that includes:
  • paid employment (job, career, etc.)
  • unpaid employment (volunteering, unpaid internships, sweat equity, etc.)
  • going to school (formal education or certification)
  • other professional learning (coaching, professional development, etc.)
  • caregiving for self and others
  • community engagement
  • energy expenditure used for a purpose that supports living

This definition allows us to build an intervention around the volunteer base—soon-to-be paid employees—that can apply across groups.

Community-Led, Community-Based Participation

The research team consists of Neurodivergent individuals and we encourage the community to be involved in the project from beginning to end.

To facilitate this, we will do a series of informal surveys early on with a formal process later for those who will actually participate in the intervention.

We invite you to respond to surveys here as well as participate in the discussion happening on our Discord Server.

In the server, we will:

  1.  work together to discuss, clarify, and finalize the ND-friendly Strength’s Based Survey which will be used for the intervention as well as in future Umbrella US projects to support meaningful work of NDs in the community.
  2.  continue discussions started on the WorkEND podcast
  3.  support one another in defining and participating in meaningful work.


As part of this research project we are developing a strengths survey, and we want to include a section on interests.

There is a well-known model of interest categories used in occupational research that we would like to use, but there is a problem with the examples—they are focused entirely on occupations, which is the typical definition of work.

We would like to broaden these categories to include examples from our definition of work!

In other words, we want to include examples from volunteer work, going to school, caring for family, hobbies, whatever you have in your life that you consider work.

We also want to broaden this list of examples to capture a broad range of experiences. The more ideas we have the better, so please share as much as you would like!

Below you will find 6 Interest categories:

  1. Realistic
  2. Investigative
  3. Artistic/Creative
  4. Enterprising
  5. Social
  6.  Conventional

We look forward to your shares in these areas. These responses will inform future surveys and tasks created throughout the research project and we will share information along the way on our social media platforms as well as in the Discord Server.
Interest Category 1 - Realistic Work
Definition: I like to work with my hands, do things that require physical effort, or be outside.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


Build kitchen cabinets

Drive a truck to deliver packages to offices and homes.

Put out forest fires.

Repair household appliances.

Do you like doing realistic work?
Interest Category 2 - Investigative Work
Definition: I like to research to find new information, or study information to better understand a topic or solve a problem.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Do you like doing investigative work?
Interest Category 3 - Artistic/Creative Work
Definition: I like to be creative.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


Compose or arrange music

Create special effects for movies

Draw pictures

Write books or plays

Do you like doing artistic or creative work?
Interest Category 4 - Enterprising
Definition: I like to lead people or projects; I enjoy making decisions and being in charge. I like starting new projects on my own.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


Manage a department within a large community

Market a new line of clothing

Represent a client in a lawsuit

Start your own business

Do you like doing enterprising work?
Interest Category 5 - Social
Definition: I like to be with people; I enjoy interacting with and getting to know people.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Do you like doing "social" work?
Interest Category 6 - Conventional
Definition: I like to follow routines; I like having clear procedures to follow.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


Develop a spreadsheet using computer software

Inventory supplies using a handheld computer

Keep shipping and receiving records

Load computer software into a large computer network

Do you like doing "conventional" work?