Each October in the U.S. marks Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and ADHD Awareness Month, an event that provides an opportunity for employers to show their commitment to inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.
Approximately one in five children in the U.S. are thought to have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, less than half (46 percent) of working-age adults with these issues are in employment, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures cited by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).
Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and ADHD Awareness Month helps to improve understanding of these challenges. By taking part, employers, educators, parents and policymakers can help to ensure that people of all ages with learning disabilities can access opportunities and realize their potential.
Your business can do its part to support the event by using social media and other outreach channels to raise awareness. There will be various activities and campaigns for employers to support over the course of the month.
In October 2017, more than 1,000 people gathered in Flatiron Plaza in New York City for an event co-hosted by the Ad Council and Understood, a program run by the NCLD. Participants were invited to interact with simulations and art installations that illustrated some of the difficulties faced by people with learning disabilities.
This was part of the #BeUnderstood campaign. The initiative emphasized the importance of support and understanding to help people facing these challenges - particularly schoolchildren - reach their potential.
Mimi Corcoran, President and Chief Executive Officer of the NCLD, pointed out that people with learning and attention issues simply learn differently.
"Until the majority of people realize how harmful the stigma and myths are surrounding issues like dyslexia and ADHD, we will stay true to our mission to support efforts that foster a deeper understanding of learning and attention issues," she added.
Employers can support this cause by making their own efforts to raise awareness and tackle misconceptions of learning disabilities.
The U.S. Department of Education blog has a series of personal stories including one post from Harvard lecturer Laura Schifter who recounts how she succeeded in her education and professional career despite being diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven.
Laura discusses how important it is for young people with learning and attention issues to have supportive parents and teachers. “Even though I had some teachers who looked at me and only saw my barrier with reading, I also encountered many teachers who challenged assumptions and saw my potential.” You can read her full blog, “From hidden potential to Harvard” here.