When my developmentally disabled sister finished her formal schooling way back in 1983, the next challenge was to find her a job. Fortunately, the people tasked with this found an amazing organization located in Tacoma, WA called L’Arche Farm and Garden. You can read more about them here:
http://www.larchetahomahope.org/LarcheTahomaHope/FarmGardens.html. I blogged about them in a previous post.
My sister was fortunate to have such a great group of people to work with, but in reality L’Arche Farm and Garden was blessed to have such a great employee. This is the case for the many employers who welcome those with disabilities into their workforce. Of course, every person is different, but in general those with disabilities really enjoy having meaningful work to do. They have great attitudes and look forward to going to work each day. They want to contribute and love earning their own paycheck.
If you are concerned about helping your loved one with special needs find work as an adult, don’t give up hope. It may take awhile, but there are employers and great organizations to help you find just the right work environment for your child. Every state is different, but check with your local Department of Developmental Disabilities or the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Of course, Goodwill and ARC are two other great organizations that work hard to provide jobs and training to the disabled.
In the meantime, you can help prepare your child by teaching them a good work ethic at home. Involve them as much as possible in the daily chores around the house. Show them that work can be fun and rewarding. Help them develop a great attitude about life and learning new things. You never know what small, mundane task they learn may lead to future employment opportunities for them.
Here is another great article reprinted from L’Arche Farm and Gardens Newsletter that shows what a great attitude disabled employees bring to work.
“The morning meeting is in full swing, and all of us are sitting around a table in our newly painted break room, the walls as yellow as a blooming daylily. We’re finishing up our prayers. I say, ‘For these prayers and the ones we hold deep in our hearts, we say a big…’
It’s Janice Evanger leading the response, her arms flung up in the air. She’s got the spirit in her, a fire in her belly that flares up all the time. Just yesterday, when we were in the fields, I hollered out that it was time for lunch. Janice called back, “All right!” and pumped her fist. It’s times like these that keep the rest of us going, when she shares that fire with us, the fire that’s brighter than our yellow barn walls.
Her energy extends into every dimension of her work, particularly her favorite jobs – ripping the paper for our journals, seeding for the spring, and shelling beans with Carrie Little at Mother Earth Farm. Perhaps you’ve seen her at the Tacoma Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, smiling broadly and handing out flyers. Janice is the first one to ask about work for the day, both before and after lunch. Her enthusiasm is remarkable, particularly because she was the first core member hired by the farm, way back in the mid 1980’s.
For how hard she works, it’s no surprise she plays hard, too. Just recently, she spent a week’s vacation in Reno with her mother and aunt, playing with the big rollers. (Last year in Reno, she tripled her money – from $2 to $6.)
And, if you’re looking to take Janice out to dinner, don’t schmooze your way into the Sea Grill – look no further than McDonald’s, where she’ll be enjoying a chicken sandwich. Favorite television show? Cops.
Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when Janice Evanger works for you? Get some good work done, that’s what.
But, her favorite thing to do on the farm? No contest: it’s soaking Pat Toohey when a waterfight breaks out. For this blue-collar gal, it’s all in a day’s work.”
If you are looking for an employee to add to your workforce, consider hiring a disabled adult. Not only will you be getting a great employee, their enthusiasm for the job may just set your team on fire!