Useful Information for Employers / Employees

The Davis® approach can help employers understand the value of a dyslexic employee and can allow employees to eliminate issues that cause problems in the workplace.

Dyslexic symptoms can cause employees much stress. How can they hide their dyslexia? Should they hide their dyslexia? Why should they need to hide their dyslexia.

The great Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi, who designed these soaring lines, was dyslexic; as are most architects. The advantages of dyslexia can clearly outweigh the problems.

Dyslexia is often described as a “hidden disability” because the problems dyslexics have are not obvious to those around them. However, with the right attitude from employers, there is no need for dyslexic problems to cause any difficulty in the workplace.

Since 2004 discrimination against dyslexia, including dyscalculia, in the workplace has been made illegal. The 2010 Equality Act brought all the discrimination legislation together and strengthened the position of workers with specific learning difficulties, including Dyslexia.

Making life easier for your dyslexic employee

Tessa Halliwell and Judith Shaw

You may have noticed that you have an employee who:

  • Shows promise but avoids taking part in any training
  • Is very capable in some areas but struggles in situations like giving a presentation, writing a report or taking minutes in a meeting.
  • Has extremes of ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ so that one day they can do their job really well and another day may appear not to know or remember anything.
  • Can get very nervous, especially if they feel they are being watched.

This employee may well be dyslexic, with both the gifts and the difficulties of dyslexia

What follows is a 4 point plan for making life easier for your dyslexic employee.

  1. Understand the issues.
  2. Talk to the employee.
  3. Consider the possibilities.
  4. Make a plan.

Understand the issues

Dyslexic people are not stupid. They have special talents which they bring to their working life. An employer with no dyslexic staff may be losing out on the benefits that these key assets can bring to an organisation. These can include a skill in seeing the whole picture. This often makes them excellent problem solvers and good at fixing things. They may have very effective people skills, visual and design skills or an uncanny ability with computers.

However, as well as the well known difficulties with reading, spelling and writing, they may have trouble staying on task, timekeeping and organisational skills.
They have often had a very difficult time in school as it is stacked against dyslexics. Dyslexics are ‘real world’ thinkers who use mainly pictures and concepts instead of thinking with words. As learning in school is supposed to take place mostly by listening to the words of a teacher or reading words on a page, it is easy to see why this can be difficult. Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Churchill and Richard Branson were all considered ‘dummies’ at school. School teaching is rarely adapted to the dyslexic learner.

Failure or very limited success at school can often lead to low self-esteem and mean that the dyslexic can be deeply stressed when approaching tasks which are challenging. This in its turn leads to more difficulties with the tasks.

In fact, the very talent of being able to see things from lots of points of view is the cause of the difficulties they face: their ability to mentally combine imaginary and real world images in a creative or intuitive way. This talent can play havoc with reading and writing, but it is highly useful for the arts, engineering, sports, strategy, salesmanship and invention.

Talk to your employee

Your employee has, no doubt, taken what steps they can to deal with any issues they have at work, but it may be helpful to offer them some further support and understanding.

They may know they are dyslexic but have been too afraid to admit it for fear of losing their job. Once they realise that you as an employer intend to be supportive, they may well be willing to talk about their difficulties freely. This will be useful for planning how to help with any areas that are getting in the way of them doing the job well.

They may have always wondered what was ‘wrong’ with them. If you think that someone is dyslexic, talk about it and, if they are willing, suggest that they have an assessment done to give them further information. It is often a great relief for people to realise they are dyslexic, not ‘stupid’ as they may well have been told they were

Consider the possibilities

There are a number of aspects to the sort of help that will be useful for a dyslexic person in the workplace. This will vary from person to person so the first rule is to listen to the employee about their difficulties and what they feel might help. The employee themselves will have a good sense of their strengths and weaknesses. They will also know how they work best and what situations at work are the hardest for them.

Help in the workplace for people who are dyslexic or have difficulties with attention comes in two forms and most employees will benefit from both approaches.

A wide-ranging programme that gets to the roots of the employee’s difficulties and will improve their skills so they are able to perform better in the normal environment.

Some adaptations in the workplace that will help the dyslexic person to do their job more effectively.

Programme

A programme that will make a great deal of difference to your employee’s ability to function in the workplace is a Davis Dyslexia Correction Programme.

This one-to-one programme is individually tailored to the needs of the employee and has a high success rate. It uses the dyslexic’s talents of visualisation and imagination to help with the areas that are difficult to them, whether that is reading, writing, maths, attention difficulties, organisational skills or timekeeping. It is usually delivered in a 30 hour, one week format, though the programme for dyscalculia, that aspect of dyslexia that manifests as difficulty with numbers and arithmetic, can frequently take a little longer, after which the employee will have the self-management tools to continue to develop their skills in a positive way.

Adaptations

A programme that will make a great deal of difference to your employee’s ability to function in the workplace is a Davis Dyslexia Correction Programme.

If, for some reason, it is impossible to arrange for your employee to have the Davis programme, which will deal with the roots of their difficulties, here are some possible adaptations in the workplace that will help to some degree:

  • Having documents printed on coloured paper – this reduces glare for some dyslexics and makes reading easier
  • Using larger print.
  • Flexitime
  • Appropriate computer software that helps with reading, for example, Read On or Text Read which will read out text if necessary, or the Oxford Reading Pen.
  • Spellcheckers.
  • Help from someone in the office or outside to check through written work for grammar or spelling errors, or to check that figures have been written down correctly and worked out in the right sequence.
  • Help to set up systems that will work for the employee – for example, setting up a good way of keeping track of work to do and scheduling.

Disability Discrimination Act 2004 brought into the Equality Act 2010

Definition of disability:

A disabled person has ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’

Mental impairment includes dyslexia. Dyslexia includes dyscalculia.

Symptoms of dyslexia can include difficulties with organisation, time, inconsistent performance, memory, listening, as well as writing, spelling and reading. There is a discrepancy between a dyslexic’s ability and his performance. It is likely that 10-15% of the population is dyslexic; possibly more.

Definition of discrimination

There are four forms of discrimination:

  1. Direct (bullying, humiliation etc)
  2. Indirect (not making reasonable adjustments)
  3. Disability-related
  4. Victimisation of a person.

Avoiding discrimination.

  • You need to understand what dyslexia is and its causes.
  • You need to identify which aspects of your recruitment, training and employment procedures will cause difficulty.
  • As an employer you have ‘a duty to make reasonable adjustments’.

Symptoms of Dyslexia.

Dyslexia is called the hidden disability because often adults have developed strategies to cover up their problems. Why should you be concerned?

Sooner or later that employee will not be able to cope or will make mistakes that will affect his/her performance and ultimately the performance of your company. Under those circumstances your action as an employer will be crucial. Accurate understanding of dyslexia will mean your management of the difficulty will be effective

The cause of dyslexia is a different way of thinking.The positives of this style of thinking mean that, usually, dyslexics are:

  • creative and innovative.
  • excellent problem solvers and mediators.
  • designers and lateral thinkers.

Dyslexics often have excellent people skills and are good communicators. Most companies benefit hugely from having dyslexic employees.

The difficulties of a dyslexic way of thinking are most commonly identified with reading, writing, and spelling. Less obvious symptoms involve:

  • an inconsistent level of performance
  • problems with sequencing or organisation
  • slow processing – mishearing or misreading, poor memory
  • not working well under pressure
  • difficulties with numbers
  • poor self image.

Most importantly there is a mismatch between potential and performance.

What you can do.

Ensure that your company has a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of dyslexic employees.

Find out what resources you can use to support and manage your dyslexic employees effectively.

What we can do for you.

Accurate information about dyslexia.

Provide bespoke programmes for dyslexic individuals who wish to ‘correct’ their dyslexic symptoms.

What we offer.

A professional and personal service.

Effective and unique solutions for realising employee potential for your business.

Employers
Dysgraphia
Dyscalculia
Dyslexia for Employers