Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Article excerpt


Everyone faces a series of transitions; that is, life changes to which we have to adjust. A transition is a process of change over time (Colley, 2007, p. 428). The transition individuals face when moving from school to work is one that educationalists recognize, but there is not enough acknowledgment of how demanding this can be for individuals who have specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia. It has been suggested that we need to understand transitions within the context of life course rather than life cycle. The former acknowledging that life and career trajectories have become less linear and more fragmented, and avoiding the perception of those who do not fit into staged models as being deficient (Colley, 2007). This would certainly seem relevant to people who have dyslexia, as some do not follow typical educational and career paths, their development being less linear than it is for others.

In the workplace the demand on independent learning skills, self-confidence and the ability to absorb new information, understandjob tasks, work culture and procedures is considerable. In the twenty first century dealing with constant change is a key aspect of any occupation; in-service trainingjob redefinition, promotion to higher levels of ajob, moving from one department to another, fromjob tojob, from employment back to unemployment. Developments in computing have provided individuals who have literacy difficulties with solutions. At the same time they have presented problems, the rate of change being overwhelming. They have also placed greater demands on literacy, any computing task requiring some reading skills, and possibly ones that are different from those needed when reading from the printed page. Change can be challenging, and demands psychological energy that enables coping and adaptation. It can also prove to be stressful, magnifying the difficulties associated with dyslexia.

Assisting individuals to cope with present demands at any one stage is not enough. It is as important to prepare them for what is ahead of them (Garnett, 1985) as they may not have developed the skills they need to effect a positive adaptation, and often these do not develop automatically. Working memory deficits, for example, characterize learning disabilities, including dyslexia. These can have "a significant impact onplanning,problem solving, acting under novel situations, and learning. Appropriate support must, therefore, be provided across a range of modalities for adults with dyslexia to achieve their full potential in both educational and employment settings" (Smith-Spark & Fisk, 2007, p. 51). There is a strong case to be made for the preparation of informal or formal transition plans that predict and address needs throughout the life course, even for those whose difficulties might only appear mild. These would enable educators, trainers and human resource personnel to recognize the challenges that people may face and predict what might be difficult and provide solutions.

Ironically it is often at times of transition, as a result of having been successful, that many individuals with dyslexia seek an explanation for the problems they unexpectedly face and present for an initial diagnostic assessment, as well as seek help with their skills. They have not suddenly developed dyslexia. Promotion, for example, can place increased demands on organizational skills, as well as written language tasks such as report writing. Adults face increasingly complex tasks, especially at work and in their social lives. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that to some their difficulties seem to get worse (Gerber et al., 1990; White, 1992; Price & Patton, 2002).

Successful Adjustment

Although most research has adopted a deficit model devoted to identifying the factors that make life difficult for people who have learning disabilities, in order to understand their successful adjustment researchers have adopted a 'risk and resilience' framework. …

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