Cardiff Breakfast Club Review 21st July : Recognising differences and maximising potential – a business opportunity

Posted: July 21, 2011 in Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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Professor Amanda Kirby, The Dyscovery Centre

At our last meeting of the season, the Cardiff Breakfast Club was greeted by Professor Amanda Kirby, Founder of the Dyscovery Centre at the University of Wales,Newport.

As a medic, writer and lecturer, Professor Kirby specialises in supporting those with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia (DCD), ADHD, and ASD. The short survey issued at the beginning of the meeting clearly signalled how little many of our members, myself included, knew about such learning difficulties, and thus we were all willing to learn more when Amanda took to the stage.

Amanda explained that her interest in these disorders came from her 25-year old son who has suffered with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD for many years. Now comfortably in employment, the challenges faced by Amanda’s son whilst growing up and finding a supportive and rewarding job encouraged Amanda to raise awareness of these problems, particularly in the workplace.

Explaining that we not only need to be familiar with terms like Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD and ASD but also aware of what they mean, Amanda certainly persuaded us to reflect on our own recruitment and support systems in order to accommodate people with learning difficulties.

Professor Kirby maintained that changes to our systems only need to be ‘tweaks’ and ones in which make good business practice anyway, such as interview tasks that reflect the actual job and extra support during the first few months within a new role.

With approximately 10% of every workforce facing the challenges which arise from these disorders, it is clearly important, particularly for the effectiveness of your business, to make these small changes as they could make a great difference to those being penalised, and often sidelined, due to their learning difficulties.

In many cases, disorders like Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, make little difference to the individual’s abilities – only perhaps effecting their coordination and initial speed of work. However, as Amanda explained, simple tasks may take a little more time for these individuals and therefore it is important both for the employee to firstly disclose their difficulties and finally for the employer to understand and offer their ongoing support.

Just because a person is a sufferer of a learning difficulty, it does not mean they are less able than others. In fact, often these conditions come with positive skills such as methodical and logical thinking in addition to creativity and the ability to think outside the box.

However, it is not only employers that need to be persuaded of this – often those with learning difficulties feel they should hide their disorder within a business environment.

Often those with learning difficulties feel they should hide their disorder within a business environment

Through the Dyscovery Centre, Amanda hopes to combat this lack of confidence by raising awareness within the business place whilst offering support to those who are faced with the challenges that arise from learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD and ASD.

We hope Professor Kirby’s presentation this morning will prompt the business community in Cardiffto reconsider and reflect upon their employee support programmes, because after all, as Amanda concluded, she could probably diagnose us all with something!

Further information on the Dyscovery Centre can be found at:,

Tips for employers:



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