Learning Difficulties and Developmental Disorders
Workbridge is the largest New Zealand-owned employment service for people with a disability or health condition.
What are learning difficulties and developmental disorders?
There are a number of conditions which affect the way people learn. The most common of these is dyslexia. Learning difficulties are different from intellectual disabilities because they are not related to a person’s intellectual capacity. Learning problems may continue into adulthood.
Dyslexia is a difficulty in processing information and can affect reading, writing, spelling, numeracy, time-keeping and personal organisation. It is estimated to affect up to 10% of the population.
Other conditions include Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Dyspraxia. ADD and ADHD are mental health conditions characterised by excessive hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Dyspraxia is a developmental disability which affects motor functions and process planning.
People with Aspergers Syndrome may also have specific learning difficulties, as well as problems with reading and interpreting social cues. Aspergers Syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people.
How do learning difficulties and developmental disorders affect people in employment?
- Dyslexia affects people in different ways. Many people will have found their own ways of managing its impact on their lives during their education or with an earlier employer. Others may not know that they have dyslexia. A health professional may be required to identify the specific needs of an employee.
A specialist who understands the employee’s job and the tasks they are required to undertake will be able to suggest ways in which an employer can make accommodations and support a person with dyslexia to perform well at work.
- Aspergers Syndrome also affects people in different ways. It may affect the way people learn job tasks and integrate into a workplace.
SPELD NZ is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in assisting people with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. They also work with organisations to assess and support employees with dyslexia and other SLD.
The Dyspraxia Support Group of NZ provides support and guidance to people with dyspraxia and the parents of children with dyspraxia.
The National Autistic Society in the UK has useful tips for employers amongst a wide range of other guidance.