General Learning Disabilities
Acquired at birth, a learning disability is a lifelong intellectual disability which can make everyday tasks harder than they are for others.
- Positive traits include: reliability, dedication, commitment, positive outlook and friendliness
- Limited or no literacy and numeracy skills
- Difficulty in understanding and interpreting situations - slower to process information
- May have poor motor coordination
- Difficulty with time management and organisational skills
- Emotional immaturity
- Limited ability to articulate or express themselves effectively
- Low and poor short term concentration.
Potential impact on daily life and employment
Often more dependent on others for care and personal support
- Support is needed to interpret written instructions or read warning signs
- May need structure in their day and struggle with situations which require flexibility or judgement
- Reduced confidence in social situations which, in turn, may result in inappropriate behaviour
- Will take longer to learn new tasks, but once learnt will deliver them to a high standard
- May misinterpret criticism or take it personally
- May have some difficulty travelling independently
- Susceptible to bullying.
Support in the workplace
- Be clear about the job start and induction process – times, locations, dress standards, personal hygiene etc.
- Job coaching is recommended to help the individual learn the job
- Susceptibility to loss of concentration – close supervision is recommended, connect with a workplace buddy
- Communicate support needs to colleagues as appropriate
- Be mindful that the individual is unlikely to pick up on team dynamics – due to limited social skills they are unlikely to pick up “vibes”
- Establish a preferred communication style – avoid lengthy emails or anything that relies too heavily on text
- Changes in the workplace, such as environment, personalities or work processes, can trigger a behavioural reaction – try to communicate in advance where possible
- If an individual changes department or job role, they may need to be re-trained on the job, even though their duties are similar to their previous activity. It may be worth considering engaging a job coach
- Regularly repeat key workplace messages, such as health and safety related rules or procedures
- Consider how a job can be re-designed to ensure that it plays to the strengths of the individual – eg. has a high degree of structure or routine, instructions are clear and understood
- Where appropriate, consider inviting in a close friend, advocate or family member to help with difficult or particularly serious conversations.
Source; Learning Difficulties Australia, 2015.