Dyspraxia

The objective of this guide is to raise awareness of dyspraxia at work so that people with dyspraxia can fully exploit their capacities in the service of their professional ambitions.

This guide is intended for people with dyspraxia and employers.

I. Dyspraxia in the professional world

What is dyspraxia?

Definition of the French Federation of Dys. Dyspraxia is a disorder of the automation and coordination of gestures, most often with disorders of the visuospatial organization. People with dyspraxia have difficulty writing by hand, finding their way around in space, using tools, cycling, doing a double task … These disorders cause significant fatigue during manual activities or planning.

Dyspraxia is accompanied by difficulties:

  • awkwardness, slowness of action and spatiotemporal orientation (locating poorly in space, etc.);
  • coordination of gestures;
  • organization of documents, tasks to be performed, difficult note-taking;
  • loss of self-esteem.

The dyspraxic person is often slower and more fatigable given the efforts they develop to compensate for their difficulties.

Tips for integrating dyspraxia into the world of work

The professional world has its own codes which can make everyday life complex for people with dyspraxia. Here are some tips that can make your day-to-day life easier.

Work organization

– Each morning, organize a to-do list for the day, and organize them in time. If other tasks arrive during the day, add them to your to-do list.

– Promote a fixed working environment. You can insist on having meetings at fixed times, especially for recurring meetings.

– Setting time slots for interruptions, meetings and tasks requiring concentration allows you to better control your day and better concentrate.

Have fixed time slots where you answer emails, chats, and potential calls. Fixed time slots when you are available for meetings. Fixed time slots where you can concentrate on your tasks.

– Explain to your interlocutors that emergencies have a real impact on your work, your fatigue and that they can have an impact on your ability to return work on time.

– Ask to have the agenda at least 1 hour before a meeting.

– Ask to have a report after each meeting.

– Specify that carrying out certain tasks (an excel with dozens of formulas or a powerpoint with several graphics on the same page) can be a complicated exercise for a person with dyspraxia, which takes a lot of time and energy and prevents concentrate on other tasks.

– Ask to be warned in advance if you need to intervene in a meeting.

Integration

– If you wish, you can request the provision of a welcome booklet with the main reference contacts within the company (for equipment, for the works council), and the main acronyms and expressions used. You can specify that this will allow you to better locate yourself and better understand the specific communication to the company.

– If you wish, you can ask to have a referent within your team in order to be able to exchange regularly on your positions in general and on your feelings and your needs related to your dyspraxia

Communication

– Specify that you prefer not to be interrupted during a meeting as this may require additional efforts from you to resume.

– Specify that synthetic and visual written communication facilitates your understanding.

– Make sure you have fully understood the instructions, even if it means asking your interlocutor to repeat

Many people with dyspraxia have had to find solutions that may be specific to them. It is best to ask the person concerned what they need. Here are some tips that can give you some initial leads.

Work organization

– Avoid untimely interruptions (Chat, unscheduled calls, face-to-face questions when the person is concentrated). If necessary, define a time slot for each day when the employee may be disturbed.

– Favor a fixed working environment: fixed time slots for meetings, fixed time slots for the tasks to be performed, arrival and departure from fixed work as far as possible.

– Allow the dyspraxic person to concentrate on one task at a time.

– Encourage the establishment of a to-do list system for the daily organization of work

– Tasks requiring a visual-spatial organization (example: Excel spreadsheet with dozens of formulas to check or visual PowerPoint to perform)

– Send the meeting agenda at least 1 hour in advance.

– If the dyslexic employee must intervene, notify him in advance

Integration

– Provide a welcome booklet with the main reference contacts within the company (for equipment, for the works council), and the main acronyms and expressions used

– Assign a reference colleague within the team to facilitate communication.

– It is important to listen to a dyspraxic employee. The more confident she feels, the more she will be able to communicate about her disorder and her needs so that the work goes as well as possible.

Communication

– Clarify contingencies and emergencies. These push to modify the organization of the day and require the concentration necessary for the dyspraxic person.

– Allocate the time necessary to carry out tasks requiring visual-spatial coordination (Complex manual tasks, etc.). Expect to have to do some proofreading and edits. If these tasks are important, it is important to guide the collaborator with dyspraxia at the start.

Dyspraxia and Recognition as a Disabled Worker

What is recognition as a disabled worker?

Dyspraxia is recognized as a handicap by the House of Handicapped Persons (MDPH). Thus, a dyspraxic person is eligible for the Recognition as a Disabled Worker (RQTH). The RQTH is the administrative recognition of disability. Do not hesitate to apply for RQTH if you think it could be of benefit to you.

What are the advantages?

RQTH is not mandatory. However, it is important because it allows:

– To benefit from schedule arrangements for medical and therapeutic appointments.

– to benefit from advantages during recruitment within certain companies. Companies are subject to a quota of 6% of employees with an RQTH. Certain recruitment policies are advantageous for people with RQTH in order to reach these quotas.

– benefit from the implementation of workstation arrangements as recommended by occupational medicine

– to access services and financial aid from AGEFIPH (The state body in charge of disabled people in a private structure) or FIFPH (The state body in charge of disabled people in a public structure)

– to benefit from special rules in the event of termination of an employment contract, such as doubling the length of the notice of dismissal.

– access to rehabilitation and vocational training courses in the event of incapacity for your former profession.

How to apply for his RQTH? To apply for his RQTH, you must complete a file to send to the departmental MDPH. The file is detailed here .

When is it possible to request RQTH? RQTH’s application is a big step. It recognizes the handicap administratively. It is not always easy to apply for RQTH. Some people with dyspraxia will consider themselves disabled, others will not. The advantage of RQTH is that it protects and encourages companies to adapt the work environment to the individual’s needs.

The other difficulty is that disability can be seen as something personal that some people do not want to share with the whole company. It is important to note that the RQTH is CONFIDENTIAL. It is possible to share it only with the occupational physician, who will do what is necessary to adapt the position. There is no obligation to speak to the disability manager of the company or to human resources, even if this can help to have a daily follow-up.

The dyspraxic person is recognized as a handicap by the MDPH (House of Handicapped Persons). Thus, a dyspraxic person is eligible for the RQTH (Recognition as a Disabled Worker), which counts people with dyspraxia in the quota of 6% of people with disabilities. The person can also request their RQTH when they are employed in your company. The request takes a maximum of 6 months.

Possible arrangements to help the dyspraxic person

Each person with dyspraxia has their preferences and has been able to implement certain coping mechanisms. Thus, here are recommended arrangements, but the most consistent arrangements will be those that you define with the dyspraxic person.

– When there is a customer contact , the interlocutor (s) can be warned upstream if the person with dyspraxia so wishes.

– Favor an organization of the fixed week in its operation (team meeting, regular points at the same time) 

– Provide a place conducive to concentration (with a minimum of visual and sound distractions).

– Favor short oral communications over written communications (Report, return from work by email, appointment planning).

– Provide tools facilitating the organization of tasks (to-do tools) and tools facilitating tasks involving visual spatial (many elements in different places – complex manual tasks, powerpoint, excel) written.

II. Interviews and dyspraxia

The interview is an exercise with multiple challenges, for the candidate and for the company. When disability comes into play, assessment and decision making become more complex. The candidate, for his part, is apprehensive that his dyspraxia is blocking him opportunities.

Before the interview

Declare or not his dyspraxia

The declaration of dyspraxia (in the CV, in the cover letter) is your right before or during the interview. There is no obligation. Declaring your dyspraxia in the CV or cover letter allows recruiters to make the necessary adjustments from the interview. The declaration before the interview allows you to be frank about your dyspraxia and not to have to overcompensate to hide or limit your dyspraxia.

If you don’t mention dyspraxia in your CV or cover letter, you can mention it when Human Resources contacts you to schedule the interview.

The main downside is that dyspraxia is still poorly understood, and there are still many prejudices. The purpose of this page is to limit prejudices. The advantage of talking about dyspraxia before the interview is that it allows the company to schedule extra time for you if necessary. Talking about it also allows you to be less focused on the dyspraxia, because the recruiter will already be aware of it, so they will be less surprised.

Here you will find our guide to the declaration of disability in the business world.

Prepare for your interview

Ask about

– Find out about the company (what are its activities? What are the latest news?)

– Learn about the job you are interviewing for. If available, you can read the job description and learn about the skills required and the tasks to be done.

Request information

– Ask recruiters what dress code is required.

– Ask recruiters with whom you will be interviewing. You can then find out about your contacts upstream (by looking on LinkedIn in particular).

– Ask recruiters what is the format of the interview. (Interview with a person, case study, group interview, access plan, etc.). This will allow you to prepare yourself as well as possible. If the interview contains organizational tasks (summary, structuring of a problem, moving around a room) or others that are complicated for you, you can warn the recruiter and inform him of the adjustments you would need.

Prepare what you are going to say about yourself

The recruiter may ask you to introduce yourself and ask you questions about your motivations, strengths and skills, and past experiences.

Introduce yourself: You can give your first name, your last name, say what studies you have done and speak in 1 sentence (20 to 30 words maximum) about one of your passions

Motivations : List a maximum of 3 reasons for your motivation. It is important to develop your motivations in 2 short sentences. These sentences can answer the question “why this motivation”)

Strengths and skills : You can list your 3 main strengths for this position. It can be your skills (in code, graphics, math etc.) or your personality traits (courageous, persevering etc.). You can illustrate these strengths with an example each time

Past experiences : The employer will ask you to present 1 or 2 experiences that you have had. This can be professional, associative, sports or student experiences (university project). For each experience you can

  1. Describe what you did
  2. Describe the result of what you did
  3. Describe what you have learned and learned from your work.

    Talk about your dyspraxia during the interview

    Talking about your dyspraxia is very personal. Being able to talk about it with a recruiter can:

    1. Create a bond with the recruiter. You share something very personal. You share part of your vulnerability. It’s something that touches people and creates a bond beyond the interview
    2. Help recruiters understand you better and understand stuttering.

    When to talk about it? :

    At the start of the interview or at the end of the interview

    How to talk about it? :

    – Factually: say what it means for you in terms of skills and difficulties

    – Positively: say it factually, adding a sentence about what dyspraxia brings to you. Stuttering helps develop a lot of skills that can be very useful in the world of work.

    In an interview, it is often difficult to get past a difference such as dyspraxia. If the person has been interviewed, it means that they have a profile that meets your expectations. Despite all the skills that we can see, we tend to favor candidates without disabilities over different candidates.

    First of all, make it clear to the candidate that if he has a disability, he can share it upstream, and this is important so that the interview is adapted and the recruiter can prepare and obtain information.

    – If you know beforehand that the candidate is dyspraxic,

    1. Pay attention to the format of the interviews. Interviews requiring organization (synthesis, structuring of a problem, movement in a room) will be more complicated for a person with dyspraxia. Thus, he should be offered to have extra time and to be accompanied if these steps are necessary.
    2. Book a room with a minimum of noise and distraction
    3. Tell the person who will conduct the interview to read the part below “during the interview”
    4. Communicate to the candidate the different stages of the interview (oral, test) and ask him if he needs any adjustments
    5. Use simple sentences without acronyms to talk about the organization of the interview

    Here are some avenues to prepare before the interview to judge the candidate as objectively as possible:

    – Before taking into account the candidate ‘s dyspraxia , does he have the necessary skills for the position ?

    – Can we adapt the position to his dyspraxia? See the layout section.

    – Can the tasks be done differently? Certain tasks of the position could be performed just as well by the dyslexic person if an approach corresponding to his specificities is permitted.

    – Are the skills limited by dyspraxia offset by those that dyspraxia develops ? During the interview, ask positive questions about dyspraxia (the biggest wins with dyspraxia, what dyspraxia can bring). This will have a benefit for you, because it will allow you to understand dyspraxia as something other than a constraint, and for the candidate, it will be able to put him in confidence and reassure him.

    During the interview

    – Don’t be afraid to talk about your dyspraxia as soon as you can. This will help you stop worrying about whether it shows or not. Be confident when you talk about it.

    – Be at the interview 10 minutes early.

    – Put your phone on silent.

    – If you don’t understand a question, don’t panic. Ask the other person to repeat it. If a question has more than one sub-question, you can ask the other person to have it broken down into clear and distinct questions. You can specify that you will give an answer for the first question, before preparing the answer for the second question. etc.

    – Do not rush to answer a question, take your time. If necessary, say you need a few more seconds. The most important thing is that you are satisfied with your answer.

    – To organize your response, you can take a few more seconds to write down the main ideas and the order in which you want to address them.

    – If there is a stage of the interview that seems complicated to you with your dyspraxia: A written test, a computer test with text to read, a text to read quickly. Do not hesitate to request another format or more time (at least 25%). Even though this is difficult to ask, it is very important to do so because the quality of your interview depends on it.

    The interview is a complicated exercise, because it is an exercise where the way in which one interacts with the recruiter is important. However, you are quite capable of shining during this exercise!

    Take an interest in what his disability has allowed him to do. The adventures lived are a gold mine to get to know the person and discover all his skills. Be careful, some people will be less open on this subject, in this case, respect their restraint.

    Remember to be transparent with your interlocutor. If he tells you about his dyspraxia, be honest about your position on it. If you have any doubts, ask the candidate for examples of situations similar to those they will encounter on the job.

    If you think the person is dyspraxic but dare not say so, you can ask if the person has RQTH, you can put the person at ease and show that disability is not a taboo. However, it is not allowed to ask a person if they have a specific disability.

    Do not base your impression on the dyspraxia, but on the whole discussion with the person with dyspraxia .

    Allow notes to be taken during the interview. This will allow candidates to structure and organize their response.

    – Tasks requiring organization require a significant effort from the dyspraxic person (synthesis, structuring of a problem in a short time, movement and location in a room). They are therefore to be avoided for people with dyspraxia. If necessary, allow extra time and support

    – Avoid questions that are too complex or with several sub-questions. Prefer concise and explicit questions.

    – If there is a written rendering, accept one of the ideas or a visual rendering rather than a complete and structured text

    – Repeat the question if necessary

    – Give the candidate time to understand and answer the question.

    – Give the candidate time to understand and answer the question.

    III. Dyspraxia and labor

    Daily work is made up of professional tasks and all formal and informal exchanges between colleagues. Dyspraxia can thus prove to be a real challenge, both for colleagues and for the person themselves.

    Work integration

    Dyspraxia can require strong daily compensations which tire and take a significant part of the energy. Your difference can be felt, which is why it is important to explain why you are different. Saying it verbally is complicated because we share something (very) personal with a stranger.

    For advice on everyday work, see the section of part one.

    Inform about your dyspraxia

    You can inform your company about your dyspraxia through different channels (written or oral) and different people (human resources, manager, colleague, etc.)

    – You can inform one of your colleagues, your manager or a human resources person in writing (Chat, Mail). You can explain in 3 lines what this means for you and share this page.

    – If you don’t want to share it with your entire team, you can first talk to one of your colleagues, a manager or someone from human resources.

    During a first meeting, at the start of the exchange, you can indicate that you are a dyspraxic person. You can take 2 short examples with a concrete situation (1 sentence for each) which explain what this implies

    – Speaking of the positive aspect of your dyspraxia. It can make a positive contribution by getting people with dyspraxia to do things that make them different. and be a real asset in business. You can take a concrete example where you have achieved something thanks to your dyspraxia

    – You can ask for accommodations that make you comfortable.

    Specify that carrying out certain tasks (an excel with dozens of formulas or a powerpoint with several graphics on the same page) can be a complicated exercise for a person with dyspraxia, which takes a lot of time and energy and prevents concentrate on other tasks.

    Team awareness

    Some people will come to work with you every day. Giving them precise information on dyspraxia and above all, on your dyspraxia, will allow them to better understand your difference and facilitate daily collaboration. To educate your team, you can:

    – Share this page.

    – A presentation can be made to your team. It can be done by someone from the outside, by someone from the company, or by yourself if you wish.

    Assert yourself at work :

    The world of work is demanding. Dyspraxia involves thriving in this world with a difference. You shouldn’t hesitate to say what makes you uncomfortable or ask for what you want, because if you don’t, no one will do it for you. It is true that it is often quite complicated, but you should not hesitate because it is your right.

    – Some tasks may not be assigned to a person with dyspraxia because colleagues may find that these will be more complicated. If you want to do these tasks, ask your manager clearly.

    – If you wish to speak but you cannot take it, communicate it, either in the meeting chat or orally, even if it means interrupting the meeting for a short time.

    Dyspraxia can surprise the uninformed. It can also have an impact on social life that should not be forgotten. If the employee interacts in a different way, it can also be related to dyspraxia. It may be important to take this into account in teamwork.

    For advice on everyday work, see the section of part one.

    Team awareness

    – Allow the dyspraxic person to talk about their dyspraxia and what it means for them, if they wish. Not everyone is comfortable in this situation.

    – Distribute the first informative part of this guide to all team members.

    Integration

    – Provide a welcome booklet with the main reference contacts within the company (for equipment, for the works council), and the main acronyms and expressions used

    – Assign a reference colleague within the team to facilitate communication.

    – It is important to listen to a dyspraxic employee. The more confident she feels, the more she will be able to communicate about her disorder and her needs so that the work goes as well as possible.

    Communication

    – Allow the necessary time to write written notes. If spelling is important, consider providing spelling correction software

    – When written communication is necessary, a typed text (and not handwritten) should be preferred. It is necessary to privilege a simple and clear writing rather than abbreviations, Frenglish etc.

    – Avoid interrupting the dyspraxic employee during a meeting. The resumption of the thread of the ideas imply an increased concentration and an additional fatigue

    – For some tasks requiring the coordination of several elements (Excel with several formulas, PowerPoint with several graphs, complex manual tasks), the dyspraxic person will take much longer and it will require much more effort. If possible, it should be accompanied by these tasks and be aware that a proofreading may be necessary.

    Evolve at work

    Finding a job and integrating into the professional world are the first steps in a great adventure. There are several key steps that follow:

    • Validate the trial period
    • Be evaluated on the work done
    • Being promoted

    Working with a person with dyslexia is working with a person who has specific needs. These specific needs do not change the skills and work capacities of the person in any way, they only require a little more flexibility. Many tips and arrangements were offered in the first part. The issue is that people with dyslexia can be assessed at key stages in a fair way. Thus, it is conceivable to achieve less on certain aspects (in particular the interpersonal aspects) but more on other aspects (in particular the technical aspects).

    Highlight skills

    Dyspraxia is often seen as a constraint. We often forget to see the constructive aspect of dyspraxia. The daily challenges cannot be denied. These daily challenges and these different ways of understanding the world, forge and develop unsuspected skills:

    Problem solving : Dyspraxics turn out to be great “problem-solvers”. They are able to bring together different elements of the same problem that are apparently separate, but which, when brought together, lead to a real solution to a problem. They are also able to easily spot trends in order to provide ideas and avenues for problem solving.

    Creativity & innovation : Dyspraxics are able to think outside the box. Daily adaptation requires constant adaptation in order to find original solutions corresponding to the functioning of the dyspraxic person. Thus, dyspraxics can come up with ideas that go beyond what we can usually think of.

    Empathy : People with dyspraxia have a very good ability to understand their interlocutors (their emotions, their non-verbal language). This ability is key because it allows us to better understand the needs of our interlocutor. In our ever-running watch, these are details that we can ignore but which can best understand the people on the same team, the (implicit) needs of a client or a manager.

    Pressure management : For a person with dyspraxia, things as simple as organizing tasks or cooking can prove to be complicated challenges. The management of these daily micro challenges allows you to learn to manage the pressure on a daily basis. Thus, people with dyspraxia are able to cope well with moments of high pressure by staying focused and calm.

    Excellent long-term memory : A person with dyspraxia has excellent long-term memory.

    These skills are not so obvious in reality. They require a welcoming environment where the dyspraxic person has their place and where they are not sidelined by their difference.

    The dyspraxic person must also dare to face the situations which are difficult for him with his difference in order to show that he is much more than a dyspraxic person: he is a person with a specific experience, which allows him to develop unique and unusual skills.

    The condition for developing these skills is the acceptance of the difference, whether it is one’s own or that of a colleague. The crucial element is not to limit the responsibilities of the dyspraxic person because of his handicap. On the contrary, we need him give the opportunity to go further if it wishes, without forcing it.

    Dyspraxia at work beyond prejudice

    A person with dyspraxia can achieve even the most “unrealistic” dreams. Of course, the path will be more winding, but the difficulties encountered are also part of the richness of dyspraxia and what it brings to the person with dyspraxia and to those around him.

    By going beyond prejudices, we allow people who are often stigmatized to have the right to dream and achieve their ambitions. We also provide our society with skills that we have ignored for too long. We focus on what is not possible to do, while we can focus on actions that can be done in a different way.

    Emma Lewell-Buck, British Member of Parliament and dyspraxia, gives us her vision of dyspraxia:

    “Dyspraxia shouldn’t stop anyone from making their dream come true. I wanted to be an MP from a young age, and it seemed like the odds were stacked against me even before I discovered my disability. Only 650 people can sit in the House of Commons, and the competition to be nominated by his party is fierce. So if a person with dyspraxia can be elected as a Member of Parliament, imagine what else we can accomplish.

    One thing I’ve learned over time is that dyspraxia is just a different way of thinking. Neither better nor worse, just different. Some of the things we do might seem a little strange to some people.

    I know that at first glance we may seem clumsy or prone to careless mistakes, but we are just as smart and perceptive as anyone else. Our dyspraxia can make us original or creative thinkers, approaching problems in a different way than others. And that sometimes makes us very useful! “