Supporting employees with dyspraxia in the workplace
What is dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is known as a Developmental Coordination Disorder. It's commonly associated with challenges related to movement, such as planning and processing motor tasks. As well as strengths including: holistic thinking, tenacity and empathy.
People with dyspraxia may have problems with physical coordination. They may cause general clumsiness, disorientation, and poor balance. It can also cause difficulties in handwriting and typing. Individuals with dyspraxia may also have difficulty organizing the content and sequence of their language.
Dyspraxia is also associated with many strengths. For example, people with dyspraxia are often creative, holistic and strategic thinkers. They have very complex minds that excel at innovation and problem-solving. Individuals with dyspraxia often have high motivation and a determination to succeed.
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How does dyspraxia affect people at work?
Dyspraxia in adults can lead to certain difficulties in the workplace. Individuals may struggle with a range of tasks that require coordination, organization, and fine motor skills.
This can make for some challenges like struggling with writing and typing, issues with time management, and difficulties with speech and language.
These struggles aren’t due to a lack of intelligence or skill. They occur because traditional workplaces often aren’t inclusive of neurodiverse employees. With the right accommodations, however, employees with dyspraxia can thrive in the workplace and contribute their unique strengths.
Discover how inclusive technology can be transformative for employees with dyspraxia.
Hear from our own Texthelp employee Chelsie about her experience working with dyspraxia, and the impact inclusive technology has had on how she works.
- Creativity and innovation
- Attention to detail
- Determination and resilience
- Strong visual and spatial skills
- High levels of empathy and intuition
- Better workplace culture
Individuals with dyspraxia tend to have a strong creative streak. They may approach challenges in unconventional ways, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to the table.
Best practices for supporting employees with dyspraxia in the workplace
Dyspraxia can cause difficulties in physical aspects of work, including handwriting and typing. It can also affect the ability to plan and organize workload.
As HR and DE&I Managers, it’s our responsibility to make sure we have made the right accommodations for employees with dyspraxia.
Discuss the use of visual aids to support memory challenges. Examples include calendars, planners, mind maps, and flow charts. Also, consider providing written instructions beside any equipment such as photocopiers and printers.
People with dyspraxia may struggle with communication, so it's important to communicate clearly and in a way that works for them. This might involve using simple language, avoiding ambiguous instructions, and providing visual aids or demonstrations where possible. They may also benefit from different methods of communication, such as providing instructions, meeting notes and task briefs in writing.
People with dyspraxia may struggle with planning and organization, so breaking tasks down into manageable steps can help them stay focused and motivated. Providing clear instructions and timelines can also help employees with dyspraxia manage their workload and meet deadlines.
Consider the functionality of desk equipment. What adjustments can support physical challenges? Examples include an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, and providing information about keyboard shortcuts. You may also want to consider the use of noise-canceling headphones to help block out distractions.
One of the most powerful ways to support employees with dyspraxia is by making sure they work in a safe and inclusive environment. Creating this may include educating colleagues and managers about dyspraxia, promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, and fostering a sense of empathy and understanding among team members. Feeling understood and respected can help employees speak up about their needs and concerns.
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Learn more about how to create an inclusive recruiting and onboarding experience.
As an employer, being inclusive is vital for every stage of an employee’s journey. Inclusive recruitment is a key aspect of this, as it helps attract neurodivergent talent who can bring unique skills and perspectives to your business.
In this series, we explore how to create a recruiting and onboarding process that’s accessible and inclusive to all.
Without disclosure, how can we support employees with dyspraxia?
As employers, we must remember that not all employees will want to disclose that they are neurodiverse, and there’s no legal obligation to do so. This means that we should focus on creating an inclusive workplace, where employees are supported whether they disclose their neurodiversity or not.
Here are some ways to support employees with dyspraxia, without the need for disclosure:
- Help with awareness and understanding through disability inclusion and awareness training for all employees. This helps the entire workforce with learning how to support neurodiverse individuals. By creating a supportive and empathetic atmosphere, employees will feel more comfortable seeking assistance without disclosing their dyspraxia.
- Offer flexible working arrangements to provide employees with a comfortable and accommodating work environment that suits their needs.
- Create opportunities for anonymous feedback to encourage employees to share their opinions and concerns without having to disclose personal information. This allows dyspraxic employees to express themselves without fear of judgement or stigma.
- Establish Employee Resource Groups or support networks that provide a safe space for employees to connect, share experiences, and offer mutual support. These groups can create a supportive network for dyspraxic employees without requiring explicit disclosure.
- Provide proactive accommodations that can benefit all employees, including dyspraxic individuals. Having the option of assistive technology can assist with tasks and mitigate challenges without needing disclosure.
- Provide tools that promote different ways of thinking, communicating and working to all employees, without the need for disclosure. For example, Read&Write for Work.
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We’ve partnered with Lexxic, an occupational psychology consultancy that specializes in neurodiversity in the workplace. Designed for organizations, the series of short videos provide expert advice on how to better understand neurodivergent conditions.
Why is assistive technology a valuable tool for employees with dyspraxia?
Implementing assistive technology in the workplace can have transformative effects, particularly for neurodivergent employees, like those with dyspraxia.
Assistive technology works alongside the employee, or in the background, and simply allows them to unlock their own talents and skills. By including a range of different features, such as predictive text, text-to-speech, and screen masking, employees can choose what works for their unique needs instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
In terms of employees with dyspraxia specifically, assistive technology can help with:
- Working memory and dexterity challenges
- The accuracy of written work
- Decoding content
- Focusing on the on-screen content
- Making sure content is inclusive to everyone
Offering assistive technology also shows a proper commitment to workplace inclusion, which is something that is increasingly valued by the workforce.
Supports people who think, learn and work differently. Helps neurodiverse workforces to thrive.
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