THE BLOG

Observations From Below: Help Wanted Part Three

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I promised in my last blog that there would be a bit of good news. It's coming, but first, I have to finish the rest of the bad news.

People often tell you to go where the jobs are to improve your possibilities. This is much harder to do for people with disabilities like mine. Do you know any accessible apartments with a low cost of living that I can live on for $700? Me neither. I've also just learned that it is very difficult to switch MCOs. The money stays in the MCO and doesn't follow the person making moving even harder. It would also mean moving away from the majority of my support system.

Most employment programs are not designed for me. I know there are a lot of good employment programs and job coaches and all kinds of things like that, but in my experience, those are for lower functioning jobs and jobs that I don't have the physical ability to do. I'm high functioning intellectually, so I don't make sense in those programs. Also, in my area those jobs are tied to VR, so my VR counselor would actually have to do something and as I mentioned above, my VR counselor is not very high quality.

One interesting things about that is I was invited to come speak by one of those employment programs, and I wasn't even employed.

The biggest barrier of all is the attitudinal barrier, which will probably take another 25 years to straighten out. The stereotypes about people with disabilities are that they are lazy, needy, narcissist, unable or demanding.

Mainstream people often believe that developmental disabilities always means intellectual disabilities, as well. Not that I agree with it, but I look like someone that has severe disabilities. I have a speech disability that it makes it difficult for me to be understood, if you're not around me very much. People equate this with a lack of intelligence. They can't see from looking at me that I graduated from college with high honors and am a scholar. Maybe I should put that on a T-shirt. It would hard to put my rich resume on a T-shirt.

Other folks see me as inspirational, which is nice but, that leads to a lot of speeches, which leads to a lot of time and energy. Usually those aren't paid for either.

There is also an attitude that people who get disability are lucky because they don't "have" to work or don't want to work. Neither of which have much truth.

Then there are the people who know one person with a given type of disability and therefore, think they know all people with that same disability.

There is a fear that is prevalent. Fear of a person with a disability will be a liability or cost them a lot of extra money. Fear of how we will reflect on their business, etc.

It is also hard as a person with a disability to take exploratory jobs. Most young people do a variety of jobs to try things out. VR wants people with disabilities to pick a job and stay with it, so they can close the case and get their "success" numbers. It is more about numbers and data, and not necessarily the best fit job for the person with a disability.

The reason I have written so much on employment is there are a lot of benefits to having employment beyond just the monetary. In fact, most research shows that money isn't the motivation for a lot of people who stay in jobs and perform highly. It is about autonomy, mastery and purpose, according to Pink.

Work prevents loneliness, which is a big problem for a lot of people. People need social connections and it makes sense that a lot of those come from work.

People often experience their highest level of achievement at work. If they are lucky, they get into a state called "Flow," where they aren't really thinking, but rather enter a state of immersion and focus. It is hard to do that, if you don't have a task.

Here is one nugget of good news. I found a way to get paid for one of my blogs, so if you like it, I'll be required to keep writing. It has been suggested that I compile my thoughts into a book, but I may wait for a bit, as I have a lot more to write. I am getting a small, but stable paycheck. I am paid 75. a month to be a social media cultivator for a local lawyer. I still have lots of time to do something else.

Having this early retirement state that I'm in, is not as fun as people would think. At some point, someone will realize that I'm an asset and not a liability. Are you that person? Do you have a job for me?

That's how I roll.