Sunday, 20 September 2015

The right environment

Following on from Matt's blog about being persistent, I thought I would talk about how the right environment can help someone with a hidden difference and who thinks in a different way, I know my present working environment has made such a positive impact on me.

Whilst the environment I travel to work in is far from ideal, busy tubes, trains and buses in a city and with crowds of people can be very overwhelming. At the other end of the Northern Line, I'm very lucky that I have an environment which is a little less overwhelming and some of the adaptations which have been made for me are free so I thought I would share in case it helps others.

I've spent my whole life in an educational setting, both at school, uni then later in life as a teaching assistant in a school, whilst I always loved helping people, the environment I was working/studying in was far from ideal for me. It was far too noisy, had so many distractions in it I could never concentrate and was always day dreaming, I was put under pressure to do tasks at speed which meant I was making a lot of mistakes, the more mistakes I made the more anxious I got, and the tasks were never designed for any difference in thinking or learning.

When I first started my job as a learning support assistant and I saw how much paperwork was involved to make sure all the students get the right help and support they need I panicked a bit, I was even told that I might be asked to be a scribe, my reaction to that was: "how on earth are they going to read my handwriting?"  It's not always easy especially when we have a lot to do, but the room where we do all the paperwork is away from the main teaching classrooms, so it's less noisy and overwhelming and I can focus better, it's also cooler which makes things a little easier for me as I'm very heat sensitive.

The desk and chair is at a good height for me, which means my posture is better and we all have our own computer in the room which means I can type a lot of the paperwork up and/or use text to speech software.  My boss is severely dysexic herself and very open and honest about it, she will often say to me "Rosie I'm having a spaghetti head day" so understands that I might need extra time to complete my tasks or need a few minutes fresh air to calm myself down when I  feel myself getting overwhelmed. Which means I can do the best job I can do and what I love the most which is helping the students and I feel like I have a purpose in life. My boss always says to me she can tell I'm dyspraxic by the way I spread my things out, over my desk and my bags etc  around me, I don't think being neat and tidy will ever be my forte in life.

Whilst the world itself isn't a dyspraxia friendly environment as a whole, and I know a lot of people have so many issues getting employees to understand, simple adaptations to help us can make such a huge difference.

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