Severely Disabled

I was reading an article about how people with severe disabilities are paid. In a law that was meant to get more disabled people working, it is not a necessity to pay them minimum wage. You can pay them based on the amount of work that they do. In some cases it's cents a day. And those are the lucky ones. The unemployment rate for the developmentally disabled is about 70%. Let me say that again. 7 out of every 10 developmentally disabled adults is not employed.

It got me to thinking about a lot of things. How little we value these people. How low a priority of helping them to live rewarding lives our government, and most of our populace, has. How much we are willing to send the jobs they can do to to India where people will do the same jobs for about the same amount of money and then ship it back here for us to buy. How, instead of rewarding employers for hiring people with disabilities, we encourage them to devalue them.

I was on the board for a sheltered workshops. It was run by well-meaning, caring people who did the best they could with the pittance they received from the state. I heard the complaints from the parents of the clients we served. About how so many days there was not enough work to do and their adult children sat around doing nothing. And I knew the unlucky ones who did not meet the minimum standard to work in the workshop and were housed in adult daycare where they watched videos and did nothing all day, every day.

It also made me think about severe disability. Nathan almost certainly qualifies as "severely disabled." My mind shrinks from that thought. Rejects it. Hates it. Fears it. Curls up and sobs. But there it is. Unless things radically change, he will be one of those people who I pray can find a job. And while Sam is much higher functioning, unless people's belief's about hiring change radically in the next 10 years, it won't matter how many skills he has, he will be too weird to be hired.

Our minds are so caught up in raising our kids, getting them educated, helping them as much as we can. But what happens at 21? When all school services end and life as we know it comes to an end? Will there be anything out there for our children? Or will they do nothing all day, every day?


  1. You find a good program that helps find jobs for the developmentally disabled. In my area, they help them find jobs and even send a job coach to help ensure that they do what they are supposed to and that they are learning how to do their job efficiently. I used to work as a coach for the dev. disabled. I never thought that I would have my own child who might end up needing that same help. (((Hugs)))


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