Work accommodations

Question: What accommodations are helpful for those with learning disabilities at work?

My answer:

It depends on the learning disability. But some general points:

At work (unlike school) I don’t think the LD person should ask for (much less demand) accommodations. Rather, the LD person should offer them. This is somewhat a question of attitude. It’s not “Give me this so I can work” it’s “If you let me do this, I can help you”. Always try to put it so that the benefit is to your boss or your company.

Next, extra time perhaps the most frequent accomodation in school, is rare at work.

On to some specifics:

I knew one woman who had dyscalculia and had trouble using rulers. She could understand the main numbers and the large marks for 1/2, but not which was 1/4 and so on. She got a ruler from a supply company for the blind.

If you have trouble taking notes, ask your boss to let you bring in a tape recorder. That is “If you  let me bring in a tape recorder I can stop asking you to repeat things and you can do your work better”.

If, like me, you have trouble talking too much in meetings, try to find a colleague friend who can signal you when you are doing so.

Doodling in meetings helps me (and others) concentrate and makes it easy to avoid looking at a person’s face (which overwhelms many of us in the autism ballpark).

Trying to trade off particular aspects of your job with a colleague can work: What do you do badly that he/she does well and vice versa?

Use a smartphone or other PDA. This was an enormous help to me. I don’t use anything fancy: Just a calendar app and a contacts list.

If you have trouble with speech, use e-mail You can even write an e-mail confirming what you heard:

“Dear boss, I wanted to make sure I understood what you wanted me to do: I plan to a) do X b) do Y and c) do Z. Is this right?”

Lots of things, though, are on a case by case basis. I’ll follow this question and, if people write with specific issues, maybe I (or others) can help