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Dyspraxia In The Workplace: Hidden Challenges, Hidden Assets

Trinity PR has been associated with the charity, Dyspraxia Foundation for many years and, as such, was interested to read the results of new research revealing that adults with dyspraxia are not receiving the support and understanding they need in the workplace.

The nationwide poll (amongst 339 people with the condition) found that although 64% of adults voluntarily disclosed their diagnosis to their employers, only 33% received any specific advice or support. Consequently, employees with dyspraxia were at risk of underperformance or losing their job.

Experts from the Dyspraxia Foundation – the only national charity in the UK supporting people affected by the condition – believe poor awareness and understanding of dyspraxia is to blame for the lack of support. Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder) is a common condition affecting motor coordination, organisation, planning and time management in children and adults. It can also affect speech.

Worryingly, 68% of employees who chose not to disclose their diagnosis did so because they were concerned they would be discriminated against. For some, the decision not to disclose was made because they had experienced discrimination or workplace bullying previously.

Encouragingly, the survey revealed that 66% of those who had received advice or support for their role found this to be effective. Furthermore, many of the reasonable adjustments that had helped were relatively inexpensive, for example dyspraxia awareness training for managers and colleagues and adjustments to the job role so that employees’ strengths were utilised to best effect.

Richard Todd, Dyspraxia Foundation Trustee comments: “The Dyspraxia Foundation always knew there was a lack of understanding of dyspraxia/DCD in business, and this survey has quantified that. It shows there is a real productivity opportunity for employers. There is a substantial waste of potential in all of those who are being managed poorly or have received no adjustment. Almost all adjustments highlighted by survey respondents are easy to implement, have low or no cost and will pay for themselves in a matter of weeks.”

John (29) is one of the many adults who contacted the Dyspraxia Foundation Helpline for advice and support. He says; “I was diagnosed with dyspraxia at the age of seven because I was clumsy and had poor handwriting. I also struggled to organise my thoughts and ideas and needed extra help with reading, writing and numbers and at secondary school had extra time for exams.

“When I started work I didn’t have any support whatsoever, but I managed to get by because of my good social skills. I’ve worked in the retail industry since I was 17 and always declare my dyspraxia when applying for jobs.”

John contacted the Dyspraxia Foundation Helpline when he found himself at risk of losing his job. “I was suspended from work because of anomalies with the tills. The tills crashed and, in my panic, I bulked sales together so that they balanced at the end of the day rather than recording them separately. My employers didn’t believe that dyspraxia was a contributing factor for my actions and demoted me. With advice and support from the Dyspraxia Foundation Helpline however, I won my employment appeal and was reinstated.”

The Dyspraxia Foundation is currently experiencing funding problems and sadly has had to lose its wonderful Information Officer and reduce the availability of its invaluable helpline. To find out how you can contribute to this inspiring charity, please visit www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk / @DYSPRAXIAFDTN

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