Managing work and a learning disability

Published by MAXSolutions on December 23, 2021
Managing work and a learning disability

Whatever kind of job you have there are times when you will need to understand new concepts or learn new tasks.

For people with a learning disability, however, understanding new concepts or instructions can be much harder which can make things difficult in the workplace.

As someone with a learning disability, there are strategies you can use to manage your work environment, the people you work with and the tasks you do.

Keep reading to learn more about how these tactics can minimise potentially negative impacts of your neurodiversity in the workplace.


What is ‘Neurodiversity’

‘Neurodiverse’ is a broad term that encompasses people with a variety of mental health conditions and disabilities.

Neurodiversity is about celebrating the differences within each of us and how our minds all work in unique ways. These differences can result in unique strengths which can benefit the right work environments.

But how does this translate to practical steps you can use in the workplace?


Clear communication

Depending on your circumstance and job you may not have disclosed your neurodiversity to your manager or supervisor.

However, it is always good to have a frank discussion about your skills and any pain points you may have around the new role.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to disclose your condition if you do not feel comfortable doing so!

Rather, be clear with your supervisor on the best way you could receive instructions on how to do the tasks during your workday or how you like to communicate with others.

If your learning disability could impact your performance or the way you do your job, discussing this with your supervisor or HR could lead to a range of available supports to make you more comfortable at work and more effective at your job.


Understand your weaknesses

There are things you will have control over and things you don’t. But that doesn’t mean your weaknesses at work have to define you or the job you do.

Avoidance can be a tactic, so if you have difficulty with numbers due to dyscalculia, then maybe taking on a task that doesn’t involve budgets or stocktaking would be a better option.

If you think carefully about the things you need to work on, you may be able to come up with an alternative way to tackle tasks.

For example, if you have issues with reading instructions you could have a colleague show you the process instead or talk you through the steps.

Again, its a good idea to talk things through with your manager. If there are things you can identify that you think will be difficult for you, proactively talking about them means your employer can help you.

It’s important to remember that while a good employer understands the value of give and take, it’s a good idea to talk about the skillsets needed for a job before you apply.


Target your strengths

While having a learning disability may make some things at work more difficult, don’t forget the skills you bring to the table.

You may have the ability to solve problems in creative ways, or you might be able to better adapt to changes than your colleagues.

Leaning into these skills, whether it’s a better ability to empathise or spatial reasoning, is the key to managing your learning disability at work.

Building a career path based on what you can do and not focussing on what you cant.

Ask for help

Managing work and a learning disability can be made easier by the many local organisations that can help you build your skills if you are looking for work. Whether you need extra help with your literacy or numeracy or developing better job search skills.

You can reach out to one of our consultants who can get you in touch with localised support to get you in the right job

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