Disclosing Learning Disabilities in the Workplace
A Personal Story
Being dyslexic has affected my entire life, however I was never more aware of the extent of my disability until I entered the work force. After being diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade, I was lucky enough that my parents transferred me to a school that understood the challenges of learning disabled (LD) students and never lowered their expectations of me compared to non-LD students. This enabled me to receive additional time and assistance without questioning my potential to earn an A or attend the college of my choice, which was the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout high school and college I believed being dyslexic was an insurmountable curse. I had to work harder than all my friends, staying up until 4 a.m. on a regular basis, missing out on parties and social experiences, and I could never get past my anger that reading and writing came so much easier to “normal” students.
However, my disability became much more apparent when I started working at an investment bank where my work product affected my whole team and not just my grade at school. Initially I did not mention my dyslexia to co-workers for fear that they would regret hiring me or think less of me. But as time passed I realized that I was doing myself an injustice by not speaking up.
How could I expect my superiors to understand that I took longer to complete a task because of my disability and not because I was procrastinating? Or that I forgot what they just requested because my brain is wired differently resulting in poor short-term memory and not because I wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying?