Take your entire family to do community service. Many times our children with disabilities are the recipients of service, but it’s important that they learn to serve others and that people see what they can do. For example, we volunteered at our local food ministry, Scouting for Food, and visited nursing homes on holidays. Make sure your kids are also granted leadership opportunities as available at school, in clubs, and at church.
For example, Andy is President of Deacon’s Quorum and Scout Historian. He is in charge of announcements as quorum president at church; this also gave him the confidence to speak in public.
As educators, we need to consider how we can encourage our students to be part of school leadership activities, including Student Council, Key Club, etc.
School service learning clubs are another opportunity for your son or daughter to work with his or her peers in a school or community project (e.g., planting a school or community garden, shopping and delivering groceries for elderly citizens, collecting food donations for homeless shelter, etc.). School service learning projects are a great way to establish friendships, learn important soft skills, and develop a sense of how one can contribute to his or her community!
Note: Volunteering can be an important stepping stone toward employment. However, it is important to avoid the volunteer employment trap – volunteer experiences can be tremendous opportunities to learn critical job skills, but volunteer work is not the ultimate goal. Paid, regular work is!
Parents should start wherever their son or daughter is at. You can start with teaching a child to put their clothes in a laundry basket or take cups to the sink but then move to the next step as their son or daughter learns a skill. Often that parents may be afraid of rejection if they enroll their son or daughter in community activities. Your son or daughter doesn’t need permission to sign up for an activity in the community-just a plan for supports where needed.
What are 2 steps you can take at home or in the community right now to prepare for work?
Now that we have discussed some ways to prepare your son or daughter for work, let’s talk about some possible concerns about employment. Are there some barriers or obstacles that might be holding you back? Take a moment to write down your greatest concerns about employment.