Before I get started on this update, may I take a moment to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a happy and blessed holiday season for those who celebrate Hanukah or have some other wonderful tradition!
Part of the reason that I started this blog is share my experiences as a woman with disabilities. For those who do not know, I graduated last year with a degree with a BA degree in Human Services with a major emphasis on Gerontology, older people, and people with disabilities. I have Cerebral Palsy. in my case, means that I am confined to a power chair. My thought/plan was that I would go to work as a social worker in a skilled nursing facility – a nursing home. I did not know that almost all human service jobs require both a driver’s license and the ability to perform CPR and other first aid. Although I have requested accommodation for these, it has not resulted in a long-term job. I have had 2 very short-term jobs, one at an adult family home and another as a fingerprinting clerk. Neither job gave me much of a chance to succeed at it. I worked with the older ladies for four shifts. They were more happy watching T.V., than having me there. However, the youngest client was 87 years young; they felt as though I was bugging them. As for the fingerprinting job, the powers that be felt that I was not fast enough to keep up. These experiences caused me to re-think my plans. I am now enrolled in a Master’s program for Marriage & Family Therapy. So far, I have maintained an “A” average for my Master’s classes. In February, I will begin classes through NAMI, The National Alliance of Mental Illness for peer to peer support.
This program allows people who have successfully dealt with mental illness e.g. depression, anxiety etc. to help someone that is new to the behavioral/mental health system. I will act as mentor to them. Ten weeks of training will be required, but I am looking forward to this opportunity very much. I have always wanted a job/career that I would be able help people improve the quality of life of others. It is a great feeling to know that I made lives better in these difficult times.
As you see, there is still much work to do before people with disabilities get the employment opportunities as others. I think of it like the Olympics, we must be outstanding at the job to get the same opportunity to work. Yes, there are anti-discrimination laws in place, BUT, there is something called “At Will Employment.” Simply put, this means that a boss in 49 out of 50 states has the right to terminate anyone with or without cause, something that I have learned because of my years in school.