Disclosure – Should you tell your employer about your dyslexia?

It can be difficult to know whether to tell your employer about your dyslexia and if you decide to do so, when the best time is. Although ideally employers should not discriminate against those with neurodiversity, there is still much work that needs to be done to reduce this and this is a genuine concern that individuals have when faced with disclosure. Ultimately it is a personal choice and must be one you feel comfortable with. However, the chances are that it will become evident at some point, so it might be wise to raise it with your employer early on. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, not just those with dyslexia, and these do become apparent quite quickly in any role. Therefore, taking the stress away of wondering when or how yours might be ‘discovered’ could be a sensible option.

Taking some time to think through how you raise the issue with your employer is key, many people do themselves a disservice by just stating ‘I have dyslexia’ when actually they are so much more than the difficulties associated with dyslexia! This statement also leaves your employer in a position where they will come up with their own conclusions on what this means for you, which is likely to be based on misconceptions and inaccuracies. Employers may also not know much or anything about neurodiversity, so whilst they may want to help, they do not know the best way to do this. Therefore, the lack of understanding is the issue, not a lack of motivation to support.

Selling Your Strengths

Working on your ‘pitch’ is crucial to help employers gain that understanding and whilst considering where our strengths lie can be a tricky exercise for many of us (dyslexic or not!), managers and colleagues want to know this information so that they can utilise you to the fullest. Having a fully prepared statement is easier to recall than trying to think about it on the spot.

An example (you may like to have a think about what would be in your unique pitch):

‘I have dyslexia. What this means is that I have above average verbal and reasoning skills (as mentioned in my assessment). This means I’m very good with relating complex ideas to customers and solving problems especially in strategic issues.

What this also means is that I sometimes have difficult with (insert your areas of weakness here, .eg. processing or short-term retention and so I may have to write things down sometimes and use my own strategies like mind-mapping so I don’t forget.’

Legal Considerations

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace, and in many aspects of wider society. The definition of a disabled person within the Act is as having ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. Under the Equality Act, employers have a duty to ensure their policies, practices and procedures in areas of staff recruitment and retention are non-discriminatory.

There are various reasonable adjustments that employers may consider including specialised equipment, providing a reader/scribe, flexibility of hours, adjustments to the work environment and coaching. You have a right to access these kinds of interventions. This can be done through the governments Access to Work scheme that provides funding (for specific interventions) and advice to help disabled people start or stay in work.

Whilst disclosing your dyslexia may feel daunting, there are steps that you can take to make the experience as stress-free as possible with the knowledge that just because you have a neurodiverse condition it doesn’t mean that you are any less of a suitable candidate.

Taken from ‘Adult Dyslexia – Unleashing Your Limitless Power‘ by Cheryl Isaacs

September 8, 2021