What are Psychiatric/Learning Impairments?
Since cognitive disabilities are invisible disabilities, it may not be noticed unless disclosed from the person. Varying degrees of this type of disability effect differently from person to person. Persons with learning disabilities typically have average to above average intelligence, and can be highly functional when given appropriate support and training.
Learning impairments can range from conditions such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorder to retardation.
Processing problems are the most common and have the most impact on a person's ability to use computer applications.
These conditions interfere with the learning process.
Many people with these impairments are perfectly capable of learning if information is presented to them in a form and at a pace that is appropriate to them individually.
During the learning process, many individuals with learning difficulties benefit from having a multi-sensory experience of audio speech paired with a visual representation.
Psychiatric disabilities are diverse and include anxiety disorders, depression, bi-polar disorders, schizophrenia, and other conditions.
Consider the following suggestions when interacting with individuals who have a psychiatric disability:
Talk to the individual as you would to anyone else. Integrate the person as fully into office activities as other employees. Do not ostracize him or her due to the psychiatric condition.
Speak in a normal volume, tone, and pace.
Act as a peer at an adult-to-adult level.
As many psychiatric medications cause extreme thirst, allow the person to have access to beverages upon request, even where food and drink are normally prohibited.
Don't assume the person is not listening just because you are not getting verbal or visual feedback. Ask him/her whether she understands or agrees.
Consider offering a flexible schedule to allow the person to attend medical appointments and therapy sessions and to deal with medication issues, insomnia, fatigue, or other conditions that often accompany psychiatric disabilities.