The Workplace

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.

We have also published wider toolkit on neurodiversity in the workplace, and a guide to neurodiversity and the law at work.

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.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Great stuff thanks for the ccontribution.

    i still have not read the GMB booklet but was sorry the cover does not list Dyspraxia?DCD as one of the hidden neuro-diabilities as so many of us have multiple conditions – in my case DCD and dyslexia nonetheless all publicity is better than none.

    Now where is the Button/Link to tweet this aricle – the first I have read!

  2. I agree with and relate to so much of what you’ve wrote. In your guide you state that you need to be disgnosed or assessed as having Dyspraxia to have rights in law in terms of it being a disability. You later state correctly that it has to affect a person long term etc. to be protected in law. This is confusing and needs clarification.
    I am otherwise whole heartedly in support of everything you are doing. I feel that the provision for and awareness of adult Dyspraxia is extremely poor. This is something I too would be passionate about supporting because it needs to change. If I can help please let me know. Sarah

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Laurence Turner
Laurence is an industrial research and policy officer at the GMB trade union having previously worked on Westminster. He was diagnosed as dyspraxic in primary school.
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