Looking for work while walking into a closed door


A key element of the INOU's work is hearing from and listening to people who are unemployed and the impact of that experience on their lives. The following article was written by a person living with Dyscalculia, a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers, and their journey to overcome the barriers this presents in accessing employment.

One of the most frustrating things about having dyscalculia is trying to explain to people what it’s like trying to get a job or trying to get a foot in the door.

I could list all the job interviews I went to: film, radio, tv, theatre companies, computer companies, insurance, hospital admin, civil service, and they all said no.

I tried job coaches and that was how I ended doing braille work for a few years. Before that voluntary work for Concern.

After I joined Dyspraxia DCD Ireland, or Dyspraxia Association as it was in 2003. Someone contacted me and asked me to chair their adult support group. There was no support at all given to me.

I loathe the word lazy. People who work hard think that people who don’t work are just lazy, but it’s hard to prove to them that you are not sitting in bed all day. It’s used to undermine people with disabilities. We are a very motivated bunch.

There are people that I have met with disabilities who work in childcare, IT, and taxation. These are not lazy people.

When I started to apply via recruitment companies, the description was always about the busy office. Sales jobs meant pressure, so I didn’t go for them.

What people don’t understand not having Leaving Cert maths closes doors. There is an argument that it does not matter. Employers want people with masters and PhDs. I have neither.

When I left school I had no career ambitions and I still don’t. I speak well and I can write and have been writing about my learning journey, warts and all, for a few years.

Hard working family members have been wondering when I will get a job and it does come up in conversation. An ex-friend, who I have not spoken in a while, wondered if the courses I am doing will lead to employment, and I responded I don’t do these courses to seek employment, I do them to share my story.

On Dyscalculia Facebook groups you see a lot of people asking: what jobs can you get without maths, I feel like saying not many.

One of the hardest things is trying to explain to your future bosses why you don’t have Leaving Cert maths.

45% of bosses according to a piece in the Independent two years said they think that employees who don’t disclose a disability are dishonest, and a further 84% still think that disability is a physical issue not mental.

Companies who recruit via newspapers force you to go online to look up their companies terms and conditions. There they tell you that you need hons degrees, masters and what not. I hold no degrees in economics, accountancy, finance or computer science. That is down to dyscalculia not to my lack of trying to looking for work.

In the past it has been suggested that I look into working with older people, teaching them how to use computers. Don’t know where to start to look. Have I left it too late? Heading towards a major birthday next year.

Returning to education has turned me into an advocate. This is not easy work. You give speeches, post stuff in blogs or vlogs, make videos, create podcasts, and write about your journey.

What makes the work hard is that you have to push yourself forward. Talking about dyscalculia. And you do get the appreciative clap from the audience and the silence. You ask “what impact I am making?”

It’s hard looking for work or getting the foot in the door when the door is closed.

Have never taken to the bed in my life and not been in bed all day either.