Coping with dyslexia at work21/08/2023 2023-08-21 12:53
Coping with dyslexia at work
Coping with dyslexia at work
Starting a new job or looking to progress in your career as someone with dyslexia can be challenging. Despite your experience, intelligence and forward-thinking attitude, parts of your job role that others take for granted, such as reading or responding to emails, can make everyday tasks feel harder. According to studies, around 10% of people live with dyslexia, which is over 6 million people in the UK alone.
While dyslexia is not a condition that can be outgrown, there are different strategies that you can implement to help improve some of the daily challenges you’re used to experiencing at work with dyslexia. In this article, we’ll explore what dyslexia is, how it affects people, coping strategies and ways to overcome difficulties at work.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a neurodiverse condition presenting a specific learning difficulty, also called a learning difference. Similar to other neurodiverse conditions, dyslexic people process verbal and written language differently than someone who is neurotypical, but it does not mean they cannot read or write. Dyslexia is often misunderstood and misrepresented because symptoms can vary, with no two individuals having the exact same experience. It presents daily challenges that require understanding and support from colleagues and employers.
No matter the age, a person can be tested for dyslexia, although the types of tests can vary from adolescent to adult. Some of the common challenges people with dyslexia experience include, but are not limited to:
Struggles with planning and organisation
Difficulty with left versus right
Recognising the signs of dyslexia is crucial to receiving the proper support and guidance. In many cases, individuals don’t usually pick up on their dyslexic cues until they are faced with more complex tasks. If you or someone you know is thought to have dyslexia, consult a medical professional to receive a formal diagnostic assessment to confirm if the daily difficulties experienced are related to dyslexia.
Manifestations of dyslexia at workIn the workplace, dyslexia can manifest in various ways that are different from person to person. Reading and writing emails or messages become arduous tasks, with some individuals experiencing more difficulty reading while others struggle more with writing. This can result in slower reading speeds and recurring grammatical errors in written communication. Other ways dyslexia can have a daunting impact at work are burnout, low self-esteem, and poor organisation and time management skills.
Additionally, receiving and understanding complex information and instructions can take time, leading to potential misunderstandings. Communication and interpersonal interactions may also present challenges, including expressing ideas verbally and in writing, organising thoughts, and possibly social interactions.
Working with dyslexia
Working with dyslexia can be a frustrating experience, especially if your job role involves a lot of reading or writing. If possible, an excellent first step is to inform your employer and colleagues of your condition, so they can take the steps needed to provide the proper support and direction. Lots of companies have systems and processes in place to support neurodiverse employees, so it’s likely that they can help to make things easier for you where possible.
Here are a few tips and strategies that dyslexic people can use in the workplace:
Assistive technologies: With today’s new technological tools, we now have access to text-to-speech software, speech recognition tools, and in some cases, dyslexia-friendly fonts. These valuable tools can assist with reading and writing and help make some of the most complex tasks more manageable.
Break big tasks into smaller steps: Breaking down tasks into smaller steps can help you stay more organised and focussed. This helps significantly in planning and reducing feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Practical time management skills: Creating to-do lists, time blocking, and prioritising your workload can help improve organisation and meet deadlines effectively.
Find a supportive network: Connecting with others diagnosed with dyslexia or neurodiverse conditions is a great way to find emotional support. It’s a safe space to discuss shared experiences and exchange coping strategies you might not have heard of yet. Building this network of like-minded folks who get you for who you are and can relate to your challenges is an empowering experience.
Finding support at work
Having a supportive work environment for those with dyslexia is key. This includes awareness and educational programs where team members are encouraged to understand dyslexia and how it impacts those living with it. Workplaces providing these educational resources cultivate an empathetic and inclusive company culture.
Employers should consider implementing reasonable accommodations and assistive technologies such as text-to-speech and speech recognition tools and flexible work arrangements. These helpful accommodations promote efficient communication strategies and help individuals working with dyslexia effectively perform in their roles.
It’s crucial that everyone experiences an open and supportive communication environment and is encouraged to voice their needs and concerns without the fear of judgment. A flexible work arrangement can include flexible working hours and a lighter workload, allowing the individual to utilise their best talents while being mindful of the impact of their dyslexia-related challenges.
Debunking dyslexia myths
Due to the negative societal stigmatization of dyslexia, it’s a topic that can go unaddressed, leaving many who have dyslexia uncomfortable speaking up about their condition. While the perceptions of society are dated, don’t let them hold you back from unlocking your greatest potential.
Here are a few common dyslexia myths:
There is a cure for dyslexia: Only illnesses are curable, and dyslexia is not an illness, nor can it be grown out of as you get older. With the proper support, it is possible to help alleviate some of the symptoms and live a fulfilling life.
Being dyslexic means you’re not smart: This could not be further from the truth. Dyslexia and your level of intelligence are not related. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world, such as Robin Williams, Albert Einstein, and Whoopi Goldberg, were diagnosed with dyslexia, and they didn’t let it stop them from achieving their goals.
Dyslexia only affects the English language: Dyslexia is not dedicated to one language but affects people worldwide, regardless of background.
You have dyslexia because you don’t read enough: Dyslexia does not result from a lack of reading time. Dyslexia is a neurological condition caused by various differences in brain functions.
The key takeaway here is dyslexia is not a roadblock. It does not define who you are or your abilities or hinder your potential for success. Embrace your strengths, seek support when needed, and utilise coping strategies. Not all methods may have as big of an impact on you as they do on someone else, and that’s okay. Take the time to find what works best for you and your style.
While dyslexia might present unique challenges in the workplace, embrace your strengths and talents. Remember, you are not alone in your journey. With resilience, determination, and the right support system, you can navigate the workplace successfully and thrive at work.
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