Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Working with a Learning Disability

Here's a great article in the Atlantic that my fiance just sent me.

Being accepted & accommodated in the work world is a lot more complex than in the school system. For one thing, the school system is one huge network of institutions, though policies vary from one district to another, there are still more commonalities.  Parents and educational/psychological professionals can advocate for students. But as an adult, a person with a learning disability (or any other type) must learn to advocate for themselves. The work they will be doing also varies a lot more than school work, so figuring out accommodations is also trickier.

The article mentions a fear that revealing a disability will result in loss of respect, and being viewed as unintelligent. That may be the case for some, but I've found that often once I explain my disabilities and learning style, people (whether in work or other social situations) are a lot more understanding. I sometimes come off as rather slow, spacey and socially awkward and have difficulty with some simple tasks- because I need to do them more slowly, or differently.
I've also had people tell me that I am more eloquent in writing than in speech. I tend to blurt things out without thinking, whereas with writing I slow down and am more careful. In retrospect, there have been times in the past I now realize that explaining ASD would have made me more successful. I prefer to disclose after being hired- not just due to concerns over discrimination or misjudgment, but also because I don't want it to become the focus of the interview.

 Overall it's an excellent article, but there was some language I didn't like- saying "afflicted with" or "suffers from" is offensive to me and many others with learning disabilities. I prefer to say things like "individuals who have difficulty with", "has or is labeled with" etc. I was also both disgusted and saddened by the ignorant comments people made at the bottom- about how LDs are just excuses and so forth. I encourage my readers to go to the site and make more positive comments. The posters may not listen but it will help others who come across the article to better understand. Please mention your connection to whichever label.

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