Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

DYSLEXIA, DYSPRAXIA and ADHD in EMPLOYMENT: A View from the United Kingdom

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

DYSLEXIA, DYSPRAXIA and ADHD in EMPLOYMENT: A View from the United Kingdom

Article excerpt

Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - collectively known in the United Kingdom (UK) as specific performance difficulties - have been found to present workplace challenges in a number of areas, including task performance, organization, and interpersonal relationships. It is important for employees with specific performance difficulties to be aware of these workplace barriers and to learn how to navigate the process of obtaining adequate accommodations. Employers and career counsellors can help their employees or clients to achieve occupational success through the provision of appropriate accommodations and interventions. This article describes the common workplace challenges faced by employees with dyslexia, dyspraxia and/or ADHD and gives specific examples of work-related accommodations and interventions.


Dyslexia in childhood is generally regarded as a difficulty with phonology and with reading (Dipeolu, Storlie, Hargrave, & Cook, 2015; McLoughlin & Leather, 2013). In adulthood, however, it has gradually acquired a much broader definition; it is no longer defined as being principally a reading difficulty, though reading may be slow and relatively inefficient, but rather it is seen as essentially a difficulty with information processing and, in particular, working memory. Working memory is the part of the auditory short-term memory system that not only has to remember information but also to work on it - for example, working memory is used to perform mental arithmetic. The main memory-related difficulties which an adult with dyslexia would report are in note-taking, listening skills, speaking and writing succinctly, time management, and organisational skills (Grant, 2010). To help individuals with dyslexia to function effectively at work, career specialists should focus their intervention strategies on the above areas.


Dyspraxia has traditionally been a term used to denote difficulties with physical co-ordination and spatial awareness. As with dyslexia, these symptoms are most evident during childhood (Grant, 2013; Moody, 2011). Dyspraxia may, for example, manifest itself in a difficulty with tying shoelaces or catching balls. More recently in the UK, however, after a number of consensus meetings between physicians, occupational therapists and educational psychologists, there has been a recognition and agreement that the above spatio-motor difficulties experienced by people with dyspraxia are commonly associated with cognitive difficulties that can perhaps be broadly described as difficulties with organization. For example, difficulty in organizing thoughts, speech, time and tasks may be challenges that individuals with dyspraxia experience (Kirby, 2014; Moody, 2009). Also commonly found is a difficulty with social skills - perhaps not surprising given that, in a social situation, one must organize oneself in a social space and demonstrate appropriate interpersonal skills. Also very common - though it is not clear how this relates to the cognitive difficulties - isa lack of a sense of humor and an inability to understandjokes, irony, sarcasm and playful teasing (Moody & Bartlett, 2010).

Many adults who have dyspraxia report that they have their poor physical co-ordination reasonably under control and that, in the workplace, it is the cognitive problems, along with poor social skills, that cause the most difficulty - and this difficulty is felt particularly acutely if they have to work in groups or teams (Grant, 2010). Thus, difficulties associated with poor organisation of speech, thoughts, time, tasks and social communication will undoubtedly limit effective functioning in the workplace. Therefore, the impact of these difficulties on workplace performance should be noted and addressed in the context of career counselling.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is defined in more or less the same way in both the UK and the US - that is, a difficulty with executive function, characterised by poor concentration, distractibility, procrastination, restlessness, impulsiveness, and difficulties with sleep (Grant, 2010). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.