What’s in a Label?
Being diagnosed with dyslexia can help you to understand your strengths, as well as why you might’ve struggled with things that others seem to find easy. A diagnosis can also help family, friends, school, TAFE, universities and employers to know how best to support you in your work, study and home life. It can also help when you need to apply for support services at TAFE or university.
As a person who wasn’t diagnosed until my late 20s, I finally had an understanding of what was wrong with me, which helped me to get the support I needed at university. My diagnosis has also helped me to explain to employers that I have difficulties in some areas, but reassure them that I have the skills and support that I need to complete the work that they need.
It’s important not to let your diagnosis become a psychological barrier: where you are the disability, rather than the disability being just a part of you. After my diagnosis I grieved for what I felt I had missed, if only I had been diagnosed earlier. I went through anger, depression and frustration before I got to:
Acceptance – I still struggle with this, but I have accepted that I see the world a little differently to other people and that’s what makes the world go round. (And I still have bad days where I ring my mum and cry about it!)
To find out where to go for a diagnosis visit Where to get help.
Currently in Australia, children, young people and adults with suspected dyslexia don’t have a clear path to follow to reach a diagnosis and support. Because literacy is so important for the best outcomes in life and health, the delays that can accompany a diagnosis and support have significant penalties. We need systems that support all children to reach their full potential to accomplish, achieve and succeed.
It’s important to know your rights as a person with a disability – because dyslexia is recognised as a disability under Australian law.
Federally, it is against the law to discriminate against a person who has dyslexia or a learning difficulty at a place of education. There are additional state and territory laws, depending on where you live, that provide further protection against disability discrimination in education.
But even though discrimination is against the law, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. In the years from 2012–2015, one in every 10 disability discrimination complaints received from the Australian Human Rights Commission were from people who had been discriminated against because of a learning disability.
If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your disability, here’s what you should do:
- Know your rights. Information is available from the Australian Human Rights Commission or your state or territory anti-discrimination body about disclosing a disability in the workplace.
- Once you’ve learnt more about what you’re entitled to, speak to the Disability Support Service at TAFE or University, or your HR department at work, to raise your concerns. Keep a record of any instances of discrimination you feel you have faced and record dates, times and details of what happened. Keep any emails that might support your case. Screenshot on your phone or computer can be really handy too.
- If seeking support from these channels hasn’t worked, you can get information about making a discrimination complaint from the Australian Human Rights Commission or your state anti-discrimination body.
- You can also get legal advice or assistance from a community legal service, such as the Australian Centre for Disability Law or your local community legal centre.
If you’d like to learn more, you can read the recommendations from the Helping people with dyslexia: a national action agenda 2010.
Heads Up have useful information on Employee Rights and Responsibilities in the Workplace
It can be really tricky to think of yourself as someone who has a disability, and not everyone is comfortable with it. I will definitely be discussing this in future podcasts.