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Sally Payne and Richard Todd: Dyspraxia in the workplace - an untapped talent

Wednesday 12 October 2016

In our fourth blog to accompany new Acas research on how people with neurological conditions can get work and flourish within a diverse workforce, Sally Payne and Richard Todd focus on dyspraxia - one of the least understood forms of neurodiversity.

Richard Todd Sally Payne

Sally Payne and Richard Todd

The Dyspraxia Foundation is the only national UK charity supporting people affected by dyspraxia/DCD of all ages. Support to adults is offered via its website and social media networks, local group meetings and publications. Information and support is also available to adults and employers via its Helpline Service and through conferences and events. Sally Payne is an occupational therapist and Richard Todd is a specialist in neurodiversity in the workplace. Both are Trustees of the Dyspraxia Foundation.

Dyspraxia (also known at developmental coordination disorder – DCD) affects around 3% of the adult population. That’s over 1 million people in the UK. It’s a lifelong condition – 45% of calls to our Helpline relate to adult issues, including employment. But despite its prevalence, awareness of dyspraxia/DCD remains poor.

Here are typical questions we often get asked about the condition:

How can I tell if someone has dyspraxia?

The condition affects motor coordination and organisational skills, processing speed, time management and (in some cases) speech, making it difficult for individuals to carry out activities that others take for granted.

Diagnosis may also be an issue. Adults often don’t realise there is a reason for their difficulties, which can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment and underperformance. Similarly, employers may not understand why an employee who has the potential to do well is struggling.

How does dyspraxia affect someone’s working life?

As the Acas report highlights, individuals can face real problems with:

  • Getting recruited: poor handwriting and clumsiness, for example, can hinder the interview and selection process
  • Personnel development: an employee can take longer to learn new skills and need help with time management. But their ‘difference’ means they often score highly on emotional empathy, auditory and language skills
  • Workplace misunderstanding: a person’s difficulties can be misinterpreted as a lack of motivation or effort
  • Bullying: a worrying number of callers to our helpline have been subjected to workplace bullying and disciplinary procedures

What can employers do to help?

As an employer you can:

  • Raise awareness. We should not have so many highly qualified individuals in low paid jobs just because their talents are not recognised. Our website is a good starting point:
  • Carry out workplace assessments for employees with dyspraxia. We can help you find a suitable assessor
  • Make reasonable adjustments to help accommodate staff with dyspraxia. These don’t have to be costly and often involve just minor adjustments to workplace equipment or routines.
It’s time to shine a light on this hidden disability.

Further information and support for adults with dyspraxia/DCD and employers is available via the website or Helpline 01462 454 968 (Monday to Friday 9-1pm). A free guide for employers can also be downloaded here.

Read other blogs in our neurodiversity series

1 Comment

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  • Posted by Maureen  |  13 October 2016, 11:14AM

    It has been so encouraging reading the employers download sponsored by the dyspraxia foundation.  My son aged 32 has dyspraxia and until recently had a whole series of things go wrong at work that has totally rattled his self confidence and left his feeling very low.  With the help of this guide I intend to talk to his employers to challenge their behaviour.  Thank you