Labor of Love

May 07, 2024

Labor Day isn’t just a time for family gatherings and backyard barbecues, or a day off school or work. For me, it’s the start of a new year — a chance to think about what I want to accomplish and how I might do so before January arrives. A non-traditional calendar, I know…but I also know I’m not alone. Many parents of young adults with disabilities revisit priorities once September arrives. And for many of us, how and where our “kids” will “labor” becomes more top-of-mind than ever.

As we all know, a job means much more than just a paycheck. Yet employment opportunities for young people with I/DD are few and far between these days, no matter how many new coffee shops or bakeries parents seem to open and fund.

Today’s issue of this newsletter offers information to help navigate this aspect of raising a young person with special needs without losing sight of your own needs, as well. As James Clear articulates so well below, “you decide where to drive the nail.”

Happy end of summer. Happy job searching. Happy hammering.


"My approach is to empower, not to prescribe. I'm not interested in telling you which habits you should build or which choices you should make. You know what works for your life and circumstances better than I ever could. Instead, I want to equip and empower you with ideas and strategies so you can make your own choices and do the things you want to do. I'll give you the hammer, you decide where to drive the nail."

James Clear 

Federal work support.

Last week, I came across this list of tips for how government entities can increase hiring of people with disabilities. It’s compiled by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and also provides details about a special Schedule A Hiring Authority. According to the OPM, “Schedule A is a special appointing authority that agencies can use to noncompetitively appoint individuals who have a severe physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disability.” Disabled applicants need a letter from their doctor or a government agency that provides medical benefits to prove eligibility for the appointment. Here’s a sample of what the letter should include.

Seems to me this opens up a whole new world of employment opportunities for young people with I/DD who want to work and contribute in meaningful ways. Wishing anyone who explores further much success. Please share any learnings with me here.


Presume competence.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this concept: the presumption that people are competent and deserve to be treated as equals. When we recognize this, we understand that someone’s behavior often reflects their needs and ability to communicate them. The best way to capture their interest and motivation is often just to follow their lead.

The Hussman Institute for Autism has compiled this extensive resource for parents, educators and others to help explain and optimize presumed competence at home, school and in the community at large.

Based on the work of Lev Vygotsky, the manual asserts that “The essential role of parents and teachers is to provide enough support so that the child can be successful at a given task, but not so much that the task is actually completed without the child’s effort.”

This free guide from Empowering Ability also outlines specific action steps to help young adults with I/DD gain independence. The company’s founder also offers 5-minute videos on specific topics related to raising independent young people, which you may find helpful.


Unpaid caregiver plight.

Would you be surprised to learn that one out of five employees in the United States is an unpaid family caregiver? According to this recent article, unpaid family caregivers are growing in number, reporting increased feelings of isolation, and suffering from physical and mental health challenges.

Research by The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCIC) shows that caregiver employees provide an average of 20 unpaid caregiving hours per week, which goes a long way towards explaining why nearly one-third of them have voluntarily left a job because of their caregiving responsibilities. The RCIC offers support programs, advocacy, and much more to help individuals consumed with helping their loved ones. But more efforts like this are needed.

My friend, Tanya Yarconi, helps caregivers help themselves through s Facebook Group and other programs. She is the parent of a young woman with disabilities and knows how hard the journey can be. She also knows much more to help at various points along the way.

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

Contact Kris

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