You’ve gotten a job. Congratulations! Here are some suggestions for working around your learning disability so you can become a productive, valued worker.
- Telling your boss about your learning disability is called disclosure. Disclosure is entirely up to you, so consider the pros and cons of revealing your LD. (An important point in favor of disclosure is that you must disclose your LD to be eligible for legal protections on the job, as guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.) If you decide to disclose your LD, explain it to your boss briefly, honestly, and in a positive light. Be sure to describe the accommodations you need to perform your job, as well as the strategies you've developed that will help you do your job well. This information must be kept confidential. Your co-workers are not entitled to know about your LD unless you decide to tell them.
- Know when and how to request workplace accommodations. Depending on the requirements of your job, reasonable accommodations might include a quiet place to work, permission to record instructions or meetings so you can review what was said, and permission to use assistive technology that will help you do your job more effectively.
- If your employer does provide workplace accommodations, be sure to check in regularly with your supervisor to review how well the accommodations are working. Collaborate on any necessary adjustments.
- You may be able to make accommodations yourself without officially disclosing your LD. Without mentioning your LD, you can ask, “May I have some quiet time to read this report?” or “Is it okay if I record this meeting so I can take notes later?”
- Ask your supervisor to give you a written list of job performance expectations. You need to know what is expected of you on the job.
- Ask about the schedule for performance evaluations. Be sure to find out what the performance evaluation will include and how your work will be evaluated.
- To be successful at your job, you need to understand your social and communication styles so you can form supportive relationships with your co-workers. You want to establish yourself both as a hard-working, capable individual and as a cooperative team member. Work to fit in to the workplace community and culture.
- Once you’ve established good relationships with your co-workers, you may find people to help you work around your learning disability. For example, suppose you’re good with numbers but struggle with written work. You might ask a co-worker to proofread what you write. In return, maybe you can do some service such as checking your co-worker’s budget projections or taking on a small task that your co-worker dislikes.
- Be flexible. Adapt the organizational skills you developed in earlier jobs or in school to your new work setting. Always do your best. Work around your learning disability—don’t use it as an excuse for not doing the job right.