Homeadults with learning disabilitiesHazards of Finding Work While Dyslexic

Recently, I’ve started hunting for part time work outside the home in addition to freelance writing gigs. I need to get out of the house a little more often, and we could use the regular hourly income, since snow has been stingy for us this year and hubby hasn’t been able to bring in the extra income plowing offers.

Finding work is tricky for most people, but it’s even harder when you have any kind of disability.

I’d learned how to manage the negative parts of my dyslexia quite a while ago, but there are certain situations in which I still have pretty serious problems. Those are mostly high stress situations involving numbers or words.

Unfortunately, most part time jobs I’ve been finding are environments which involve those things. You’d think I’d be able to handle something like cashiering, but that’s not the case. Data entry isn’t a good idea either, especially if I’m interrupted on a regular basis.

I am decent with customer service, though I don’t care for the dynamics involved. I’ve experienced how people tend to treat customer service representatives. Why do some people take the power dynamic between customer/employee as an excuse to be cruel to another human being?

Anyway, the best jobs for me seem to be the ones where I can put up store displays, or work behind the scenes in designing things. I’m very good with organizing and improving systems, too. I work best in an easy going, low-pressure environment. Unfortunately, those jobs aren’t easy to come by. When you have such a specific set of environmental requirements, it’s extremely hard to find something that fits.

And then comes the question of whether to disclose my dyslexia or not.

On the one hand, dyslexia is protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Most employers are not allowed to legally discriminate against you if you disclose your disability, and they’re required to provide adequate accommodation.

However, if you do disclose the disability side of your label, you risk having your application automatically dismissed. You have no way of knowing if they discriminated against you, or if there was something in your work history, because they’re not required to tell you why you were rejected.

Temp agencies can also be problematic. I don’t know what their titles are, but the people who help people get work are paid to get as many clients hired as possible. In my case, I’m pretty sure the lady who helped me erased my dyslexia disclosure, because the place I wound up working at had no idea I was dyslexic, even though I thought they did.

As a result, everyone ended up suffering from a huge amount of frustration. It was pure misery.

Unsurprisingly, that temp agency went under several years ago.

Personally, I prefer to disclose what’s going on at the beginning. If I’m dismissed right away, that tells me the workplace is probably toxic, and working there would be a bad idea. If they give me a chance, there’s hope.

After all, resumes are all about giving an idea of your strengths, and interviews are an opportunity to demonstrate how those strengths outweigh your weaknesses.

If I ever go through a temp agency again, I’m going to stress the importance of disclosure, because I never want to go through that again.

If you DO manage to land a job, what do you do if you start experiencing LD related problems? How do you handle managers and coworkers who don’t understand what’s going on, or worse, actively bully or discriminate against you if they find out about your LD?

I know bigger companies have set procedures in place, but those get hard to follow when the person doing the bullying is high enough on the chain of command.

There’s also the issue of retribution. After a couple of years of working at one of my past jobs, I let slip to a coworker that I was dyslexic. She then proceeded to bully me about it, and turned the rest of the employees against me. The store manager also began scheduling my shifts so I worked alone. These were fully grown adults, by the way. Fortunately, I didn’t have to stay there for very long.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t get rid of my dyslexia, but there is still the very real problem of disability discrimination in the workforce. It’s little wonder so many of us create our own businesses or work for ourselves.

As for now? I guess the hunt goes on.

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