Fulfilled Days

We came across an article on the USA Today website which highlights a work incentive set up in California, USA by parents for their adult children with Autism. These parents have got together and set up various social enterprises to employ their children by creating bespoke jobs which play to their own personal strenghts, i.e. organic farming if they like to work outdoors , Website design if they like to work with computers and T-shirt silk screening if they are artistic, to name but a few. This really hit home with us as it follows suit with one of the main reasons we set up our specialist residential homes; creating opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to have fulfilled and happy lives. This comes in many forms depending on the complexities of each individual, however remains fundamentally the same in essence whereby it is about opening the gateway to making their own personal dreams and aspirations a reality no matter in what form this may be. For most children going through school, a large focus is placed on the future; what do they want to be when they grow up, what profession would they choose, where could they see themselves in 5/10/20 years time?… All these questions revolve around the future, however evidence shows that for children along the Autistic Spectrum the idealism of working for a living in a profession which they aspire to is not as common a reality compared to those without a learning disability.

In the UK, the ODI (Office for Disability Issues) states that, “According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but  remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people.  In 2012, 46.3 per cent of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4  per cent of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people”. What those statistics fail to distinguish is how complex the disabilities of the individuals are, as this will dramatically impact their ability to work compared to those who may have more mild learning disabilities. Although disturbingly this is a far cry from the state of affairs currently seen in the USA, where the Bureau of Labor Statistics evidences that “In 2012, 17.8 percent of persons with a disability were employed compared to the employment-population ratio for persons without a disability being at 63.9 percent”. These statistics are shocking and represent a tremendous disservice that both the government and local companies are giving to adults with learning disabilities in not allowing them the opportunity to their own independence that having a job and earning money can give.

The parents who have decided to employ their children within jobs which suit their personal abilities is incredible to read about in such shocking circumstances in the USA that the statistics imply. It allows those individuals along the Autistic Spectrum the opportunities to develop their skills through life-long learning within work environments instead of being let down by society and left to lead unfulfilled and unproductive lives. Closer to home there are various incentives in operation by parents and charities nationwide to provide better outcomes for adults with special needs, whether this is through work experience incentives or day opportunities.


In our local area there is a day centre called “The Rock Foundation” (http://www.rockfoundation.org.uk/ )which our daughter Laura, along with other individuals living in our homes, attend on a weekly basis. The charity provides daily positive, purposeful and constructive activities; vocational training, supported workshops and supported work experience, for adults and young people with learning disabilities or other disadvantages in the area of Grimsby. Opportunities created by this organisation allows Laura to develop her skills and grow as an adult. Recently Laura and her friend Phillip, who lives in the same home as Laura, were honoured at The Rock  Foundation Annual Awards Ceremony for their Great Effort in Individual Workshops, where Laura was commended for her office work development, and Phillip with his work in the Sweet Shop he runs at the charity. By giving them the opportunity to develop their skills and recognising their personal achievements, this has given them such a great boost and a sense of pride that is invaluable for us to see as parents.


By supporting such campaigns as these and also working proactively together within our local communities it is possible to provide  individuals with disabilities the opportunities to lead happy and fulfilled lives which makes them happy and brings them that sense of pride of being a part of their wider community.


To view the whole article about the work incentive, click on http://usat.ly/18syCPV


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