There are a number of terms used to describe skills and challenges for some people in society. For most of us we can all find we have difficulties in one area our lives but these may become more challenging because of society not being aware of providing systems that support all and not some.
Many attempts have and continue to be made to have one single term to encompass all people with learning, social, language, attention and motor difficulties. Umbrella terms arise and dissapear and may be used by different professionals. A unified term may be impossible to achieve and perhaps is not appropriate.
A term in more recent times that is being used is neurodiversity. However, even this term can cause discussion as of course we are all neurodiverse, as this means a variation of brains and minds. What is trying to be described is perhaps a recognition of this variation and for society to recognise and respond to this variability that exists.
Some terms certainly seem to have more negative perceptions and may describe to some extent what people can’t do instead of showcasing talents and discussing what can be done.
Specific specialist charities and professional organisations also provide information about specific ‘conditions’ ( even the word condition can cause discussion) and in this website we do talk about this to some extent because some people will want a ‘short cut’ to describe some of their challenges that others may want to understand.
The essential thing is that with some adjustments (many of which maybe in reality, be minimal and not costly, and some of these attitudinal) the person in the workplace can be a hardworking and key member of the workforce. However part of the thinking for employers is to consider the diversity of the workforce and considering how procedures at all stages of employment may attract all talent and not just some.
Terms that may be used to encompass people with a range of cognitive skills and profiles.
There is often much debate about how terms are used and the labels used.
For example, whether someone is ‘dyslexic’ or is ‘a person with dyslexia’, or someone is ‘autistic’ or ‘someone with autism’ often sparks extensive debate and discussion. Getting it right or wrong can seem like a mine -field and can sometimes be a reason for some employers to feel they may not want to engage at all in case they make a mistake and cause offense.
In reality supporting each person as an individual in the context of their lives and in their job, and helping that person where possible to maximise their talent should be society’s goal.
As an employer or trainer the best way to help is to ask the person how they want to be supported and the terms they want to use ( if any) to describe themselves or to be addressed.
Asking what works for, will be greeted usually with a positive response because it is about the person and not about a label or series of labels.
The key to consider always is that every person is different and labels are descriptors that can aid understanding ( sometimes) but don’t take into consideration the person ,past and current experiences and the environment they are working in which will be unique for all.
Terms you may also hear being used are:
• Hidden impairments
• (Neuro) Developmental Disorders
• Hidden disabilities
• Non-visible impairments
• Specific learning difficulties/differences
• Learning difficulties/Learning differences