Finding the "Best Fit" for Young People with LD in the Workplace
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By Paul Gerber, Ph.D.
After a young person has established her qualifications for the job and competed successfully to get the job, then she can request "reasonable accommodations," which help provide an even better fit for the job. Reasonable accommodations means that the environment, the employment process, and the job tasks, either individually or in combination, are modified in order to minimize the effects of a learning disability.
Once on the job, it is important for employees with LD to be resourceful in countering any effects of LD that interfere with satisfactory job performance. Therefore, the mantra of adults with LD comes into play: Always be looking for resources for workplace support because the workplace is an ongoing journey of adjusting to a multiplicity of ever-changing demands. An invaluable and free-of-charge support is the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), which has a website (http://www.jan.wvu.edu/) and a toll-free phone number (1-800-526-7234). Their services are intended for adults with learning disabilities and/or their work supervisors. Most important, the consultants at JAN are particularly skilled at solving LD-related job problems, in order to facilitate job success.
Literacy centers are another support that can promote the development of skills to improve job performance, such as reading, writing, and computing. Research shows that the great majority of adults with learning disabilities do not go on to post-secondary education. Literacy centers can provide skill acquisition on a short-term basis and with one-on-one instruction. Their services provide the employee with LD an opportunity to upgrade her skills without placing too many demands on her employer.
The destiny of persons with LD is competitive employment. Recent employment reports describe an ever-changing job market. It is not uncommon for an employee in the U.S. to have as many as eight jobs in the first ten years of employment. The young person with LD needs to look beyond the point of job entry and take a long-term view of transition to a workplace where change can be constant. Under current labor market conditions, finding the best fit at job entry is an important ingredient of success. The other key ingredient is constantly being adaptive to the changing demands of the workplace.
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