Independent Living Skills and Cognitive Disabilities: Reduce Anxiety, Solve Problems

Posts tagged ‘employment’

Increasing the Employment Rate for Persons with Disabilities Through Networking

Handshake icon

Handshake icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The best way to get a job is through your personal network. Who do you know? Who do your friends know? Who do family members know? Who do your neighbors know? Who do those contacts know? Tell people that you want a job and ask them if they have any ideas for you. When they suggest a business or person for you to contact, ask if you can mention them. You would say something like, “John Smith referred me to you. I am looking for a job and John thought you might have a need for someone with my skills.”

Sell Yourself

Speaking of skills, do you know what you do well? Can you list a few things that you can do and that you enjoy? If not, spend some time reviewing your work history, volunteer jobs, hobbies, and group activities. What compliments have you received? If you can’t remember, ask your family, friends, or others who have worked with you. Include these skills on your resume and/or business card to help you remember.

Meet New People

If you have asked everyone in your network and you have run out of contacts to call, it’s time to meet new people. How? Networking is a great way. You might already go to events or meetings where there are lots of people. If not, think about joining a bowling league, trying out a new sport, going to a dance, going to a meet-up related to an interest that you have (, or find a local networking group. Make a point of introducing yourself to someone new instead of hanging out with your friends.

How’s Your Handshake?

Smile, stick out your hand and give a firm handshake. (Practice if you need to, making sure that you are holding the person’s entire hand and not just their fingers.) Shake the other person’s hand for a count of two and then let go.

Say, “Hi, I’m –.” Listen for their name, and say, “–, it’s nice to meet you.”

Start a Conversation By Asking a Question About The Other Person

Ask where they work, and let them know that you are looking for work if they have any ideas for you. They might want to know what type of job you want or what you can do. This is when you need to say what you are good at and what types of jobs or volunteer work you have done in the past. If you have a business card with your name and number, hand them your card.

What other tips would you add to this list?

Is Independence in My Child’s Future?

English: Two adolescent couples at the 2009 We...

My Child is Growing Up! What Can I Do to Prepare for the Future?

Yes, children with disabilities do grow up. Sometimes we enjoy (or grow accustomed to) the interests, behaviors, and quirks that our child has. Sometimes we forget that they, too, will grow bigger and older, and some behaviors can stand in his or her way of being accepted by peers, getting a job, or having independence.Schools focus on academic skills due to pressures of standardized testing and No Child Left Behind requirements.At the same time, self advocacy and social skills are equally important in employment, social settings, and family life. Eventually, he or she will need to interact with a roommate, co-workers, and friends. Let’s get more specific with a few concrete examples.

Sample questions to consider when planning for independent living:

  • Does my child hug everyone without checking to see if a hug is okay?
  • Does my child order his or her own meals in restaurants?
  • Is my child a guest in our home or an equal member of the family with responsibilities that increase each year?
  • Is there some other behavior that will not look ‘cute’ in 10 years?

You may be thinking now, “Okay, as a parent, I get it. I realize that my child is getting older and I need to raise the bar so that he (or she) can get a job and have as much independence as possible. But how? It’s a struggle to get through the day most days.” Glad you asked.

Routines are hard to break, and it’s sometimes difficult to know when your child might be ready to be more flexible. Some habits will always be a part of your child’s repertoire as a calming technique or as a way to cope with sensitivities. Only you and your child know the difference between what is necessary and what new challenges might be considered. Seek out other parents or experts for guidance on this if you are not sure.

Steps in making relatively low-stress changes:

  1. Write a social story or a script about the behavior that you want to see. (It’s important that this be in writing and pictures rather than a conversation. See the links below regarding social stories and a couple of smartphone apps for more ideas.)
  2. Start talking about the change ahead of time and schedule a day when you can agree that the new behavior will start. Reread the social story as often as needed to integrate the concept, reviewing periodically.
  3. When you see an effort, celebrate in a way that your child or young adult will appreciate. A step in the right direction is just fine; we are not after perfection.

With a relaxed and positive approach, yes, your child can learn more mature behavior with less stress than it first seemed possible. Let us know how you’re doing.

Smart Steps (TM) LLC (c) 2013

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