Employees who have dyslexia can contribute to their organisation in many different and constructive ways – and we will if given the chance. You can work with your employer to do things just a little differently, which will not only help you, but could help your employer too.
The elephant in the room for people who have dyslexia is writing, which is part of nearly every modern job. Writing is the single biggest factor that can block upward progression in the workforce for people like us.
But, there are some ways that you can work around your writing challenges. Specifically:
- Have a trusted colleague (or two) review your work. And make an effort to draft the reports you need to write before you submit them to your manager so you can review them.
- Take breaks when you need to. Regular short breaks, even five minutes to walk around and have a stretch, can help a lot.
- If you need to read or do other work that’s hard for you, find a quiet place where you can retreat and focus.
For me, work has always been a balancing act. Sometimes I convince myself that I am a much more accurate and mistake-free writer than I am, and I get so excited about the excellent, well-articulated document I’ve written. Next step is for me to send it to a trusted reviewer, and that’s when they find all my mistakes!!
Clearly, this can be frustrating, exhausting and confidence depleting. But the strategies that I’ve adopted can help to alleviate some of the stress, worry and disappointment that would come my way if I’d simply confidently submitted that piece of work without anyone checking it.
The most important lesson for me is that sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves. Everyone, with or without dyslexia, makes mistakes in their work. Maybe all our extra checks make us even better employees!
Here are some strategies I use to get me through my days:
- Have a colleague review and proofread my work. It’s great if you have two different people to do this, different people see different errors and it also spreads the load!
- I take breaks when I need them – which means I have to pay attention to the signals that tell me when I’m getting weary.
- I find the quiet places at work when I need to read or complete the sort of tasks that I need to concentrate hard on.
- I always make an effort to draft any written reports before I send them to my manager.
- Checklists are great for me. At the beginning of the day I write a list of tasks that need to be completed and cross them off as I go (also helps you to feel like you’re achieving lots!).
- Checklists are also great for routine activities. When you’re used to doing a particular task it’s easy to overlook steps, a checklist helps you to make sure you do each step, each time.
- Visual concept maps are great for me to get my head around complex ideas. Make sure you have access to a whiteboard if they help you too.
- Assistive technology is really helpful for me, things like Speech to Text tools and reading pens.
- I find it’s easy to get overwhelmed if your workload is heavy. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete all your tasks
- Reminders, to-do lists, upcoming deadlines and events – I record them all in my favourite calendar tools to keep me on track.
- I ask for help – a lot!