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Work Opportunity and Inspiration for Young Adults with Disabilities

As we wrap up National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we find that although there is much to be done, there is much to celebrate. An array of options exist for young adults with learning differences to gain workplace skills, vocations, careers, and college degrees. Young adults and their employers are chipping away at the myths about the capabilities of people with disabilities and differences.

CLE Florida student, Pablo, and Mike Russo, Pablo's employer with 3DMagine, for example. Pablo is gaining new skills like 3D Printing, and bringing dependability, eagerness to learn, and social media skills to the company. Mike shared his thoughts on Pablo's work and the work of others with learning differences he has employed. Mike remembers seeing their faces light up with a sense of accomplishment and excitement when they received their first paycheck. He described their different abilities as gifts that he enjoys helping them develop. Pablo is enthusiastic about his team and job saying, "I would never ever sacrifice this job for anything. No matter what you would give me. I love working with these guys."

Another example is Andrew, who is a CLE Austin student that balances two jobs remarkably well. He starts his day at about 6:45 am at Home Depot working about 16-30 hours a week. Then, he picks up another 20-22 hours a week in the evenings at the University of Texas Housing and Food Service Division. Sometimes Andrew works until after 11 pm. His dedication and hard work ethic are opening doors for him.

Recently, the event #Trailblazing2017 a Global Conference on Meaningful Employment brought together the brightest minds on the topic of disabilities and employment for the B2B conference. Dr. Temple Grandin and Stephen Shore, Ed. D headlined the group of guest speakers. Having Autism gives these two well-respected speakers and advocates a unique perspective on employment for those with a disability. Leaders in education and business were also available to provide their take on the opportunities and challenges facing the often-overlooked disabled workforce. As one expert panelist, Stephanie Martin, President of CLE, put it, “It is simply good for business and the right thing to do.” Synchrony Bank CEO, Margaret Keane, and her team have made an impact and are seeing the ROI of hiring employees with disabilities. At the end of September, Margaret gave an interview on Bloomberg TV where she described her goal of creating a diverse and inclusive company. They began the initiative of hiring team members with disabilities over a year and a half ago, and have seen the retention rate be much higher with this group of talent. She also mentioned that nearly 80% of people in the US with disabilities are not employed. This statistic tells us there is a long way to go, but progress is happening.

The above examples are all making a difference in starting conversations and creating opportunities for those with a variety of disabilities including learning differences. Preparing our young adults that face these challenges with the right supports and tools, will give them an edge in the workforce. Parents can help their students by finding the right fit among the variety of support programs available that will guide them to their goal of independence. We all have different talents to bring to the workplace and deserve the opportunity to develop them.

College Living Experience is a post-secondary program for young adult students who require extra support to become successful learners and more independent adults. Check out options and programs across the US at or call us at (800) 486-5058 to learn more.

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.
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