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Dyslexia And The Workplace: Overcoming Your Disability

January 10, 2013 in dyslexic mom

For too long, dyslexia has been confused with low intelligence. However, there are a range of people who have not just overcome the condition; they have excelled in their chosen fields. Albert Einstein – the most acclaimed scientist of his generation, Richard Branson of Virgin, Leonardo da Vinci and even actor Robin Williams have all been diagnosed with dyslexia. In fact, dyslexia is thought to affect around 15 percent of people, so it is by no means uncommon in society today.

Contrary to popular believe, people who have dyslexia often boast a higher level of intelligence than people without it. What it is, is a learning disability which can affect your ability to read, write or spell due to a difficulty in connecting with language. However, it has many different variations, each of which can affect different aspect of your life – from a difficulty in understanding directions, reading backwards, or even lacking comprehension when concepts are spoken rather than seen.

Despite the fact that dyslexia is so common, some children who suffer from it fall behind while at school – not because they are less intelligent, simply because they need to be taught in a slightly different way. The way the dyslexic brain works responds to more visual stimulation than it does auditory prompting. But when the condition is caught early in children, they can be given the necessary extra time and assistance they need to flourish.

Dyslexia and work

Dyslexia is a life-long condition but it by no means has to be detrimental to your life. If you  are dyslexic, there are ways in which you can both deal with and beat the condition in the work place.

If you can’t find work, you are not alone; however lots of dyslexic people excel in the office once they have achieved employment, especially in creative jobs such as acting and design – but also in engineering, IT and practical trades. Here are some tips to help you get into the workplace and rocketing up the career ladder.

  1. The CV. The first hurdle is the CV, as this is the first thing a potential employer will see, without knowing you have dyslexia – so get someone to help you make sure it is well-organised and properly spelled. You may choose to disclose your dyslexia here or you may not – that is your choice. Some employers ask in the recruitment process and will provide special assistance during the application.
  2. Technology is your friend. Fortunately, we live in a society where technology is breaking down the boundaries of disability – helping us to work and live to at our fullest potential more easily. From dictating machines to speech-activated word processing programmes, there are many different equipment out there which can help you to succeed. Dictating machines allow you to record meetings and play them back later at your own pace, so you don’t miss anything in your note-taking.
  3. Organise. Take the time to make sure your thoughts and your work spaces are in order – perhaps try colour coding files or documents with stickers depending upon its purpose. This will make you feel like you are in control. You can even organise your day with a “to do” list and cross off the tasks you have completed.
  4. Spell-check. This is a wonderful attribute for the 21st Century available on most word processing programmes. Alternatively, you can also install TextHelp, which is like predictive text for your phone but on your PC. On top of guessing the words you are attempting, it can also read out the text you have written so you can make sure it is coherent.
  5. Be creative. One of the best things about dyslexia is that sufferers are often at an advantage when it comes to creative thinking. According to Dr. Sally E. Shaywitz, dyslexic people are often inspired visionaries and out-of-the-box thinkers, they excel at problem solving and seeing the big picture. Yale University is actually going out of its way to promote the benefits of employing dyslexic people.

While technology is working to help you overcome some of the issues associated with dyslexia in the workplace, you can turn it around, making your condition a positive attribute to your job. While you might not have the best spelling or the easiest-to-read handwriting, there are many tasks your brain is better equipped to undertake. This is how so many dyslexic people, once they have faced and overcome the barriers of mainstream education, have made it to the top of their professions.