DYSPRAXIA, A WORKPLACE ISSUE
We can bring real strengths to workplaces. It is often said that dyspraxic people tend to be hardworking, loyal, and strong lateral thinkers.
Employers should want to make the most of all workers’ talents, including those that can be associated with dyspraxia.
Unfortunately, most workplaces currently fall short.
Only one in ten employers explicitly addresses neurodiversity through their policies and practices. Seven out of ten neurodivergent people have experienced discrimination in the workplace.
There are lower levels of public awareness around dyspraxia than there are around comparable, and sometimes overlapping, conditions.
Where awareness does exist, it tends to be of the challenges of physical co-ordination that dyspraxic people can encounter. Other potential aspects, such as sensory processing and social difficulties, are less well known. This can make it difficult for dyspraxic people to excise their right to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.
Lack of awareness can also result in ignorance and stigma. This makes it less likely that people will disclose their condition to an employer. These can be difficult issues to discuss even in a supportive environment. After all, it isn’t easy to explain to your colleagues that you still find it difficult to button a shirt or tie your shoelaces.
As budgets tighten in schools, diagnosis rates have fallen over recent years. As a consequence, more people are entering the workforce without a formal diagnosis or assessment. Unfortunately, Government schemes such as Access to Work do not fund assessments, and the high cost of an adult assessment can be an insurmountable barrier for some low paid workers. Securing a national, publicly funded route for diagnosis must be a campaigning priority.
I am proud that the trade union I work for, GMB, is addressing these issues. Over the last month we have published the first trade union guide to dyspraxia in the workplace.
GMB’s Thinking Differently at Work campaign came about because of demand from its members. Our materials have been produced by neurodivergent members of staff in consultation with neurodivergent members. We are proud to embrace the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’.
More, much more, needs to be done to empower dyspraxic people, including at work. As Emma Lewell-Buck MP recently wrote, it is incumbent on those of us who can use their ‘position to speak up for those who feel they can’t.’ And it feels like things are slowly changing for the better.