FOCUS ON ABILITIES
From the moment of diagnosis, everyone involved in the life of that child is met with a consistent barrage of reminders of the “perceived disability” that the child has. The next barrage of information are the many additional reminders of what your child cannot and most likely will never be able to do. Ironically, such things are often spoken by someone who does not have a child with disabilities. Hence, the blueprint of the child’s future is somehow etched into stone by way of a report, or two.
With the very commencement of life, with disabilities, starting off in such a manner, it is no surprise that the conversation repeats itself over and over again throughout the years of that child’s life. So as the child grows, stories are told, or moments are related, and often the listener is repeatedly reminded of the disability. Thus, the listener begins to focus more on the disability of that individual/child, and that transitions into the focus of the overall message about that person.
The way a story is told can lead someone to believe that the real story is the disability, when it is not at all. It is only a footnote to the real story.
Here are two very simple ways things are said that lead someone to believe that the disability is the focus: Scott, a young man with autism starts a small business building custom art with Legos; OR Tammy, a young girl with down syndrome finds her passion as a dance instructor.
We prefer sharing these stories this way:
Scott, a budding entrepreneur focuses on Lego Art, a unique skill gained through his Autism.
Tammy, a passionate dance instructor focuses on her dance skills, not her chromosomes.
Whether you are trying to find a job, or start your own business, how you refer to yourself will dictate to others what you focus on, and they will simply follow the lead. Set the example in how you talk about yourself and lead others to focus on your abilities as you do.
We are not suggesting non-disclosure. But disclosure of one’s disability can happen on an as needed basis. But when the overall context of your conversation about your child, often contains an element of his/her disability, the disclosure quickly becomes enclosure. You have locked your son/daughter into a proverbial box and those listening will see your child inside that box, never out of it.
You have so much influence and power among our community and yet, your professional view of a child can never outweigh the innate and human insight a parent has about their own children.
So when you may look at a report, let it receive the 2 dimensional validity it deserves and not more, because life happens in 4D.
When you want real information about someone’s abilities, don’t read a report. Ask the person. Ask them what they LIKE, and what they ASPIRE to do, and if they can’t speak, type with them, send them a text message, and email, or try one of the MANY increasingly more accepted alternative means of communication like Facilitated Typing. What do you lose? Nothing. The point? If you want to focus on the abilities of the individuals you serve, you must start off by learning the best way to ask such questions on their terms, in order to receive accurate information.
The Case for Meaningful Employment
When we begin focusing on what others can DO, and not let what we think they cannot do, pave the way forward, then there is not doubt that there will be an increase, not only in employment, but more importantly, in work that is meaningful to that person.
TIP: Are you helping someone with finding a job? Don’t tell them you have a great job lined up for them. Ask them if they think it’s great first. And if it isn’t, get them something they do like. You would no doubt want that for yourself.
At the end of the day, every single one of us has a choice. We can choose to focus on the disability of a person, and subsequently impress upon all those who listen to us, that the disability is the focus and consequently remove opportunities from them based on what we think they cannot do. Or, we can choose to focus on the ability of a person, recognize the disability as a side note to their life, and move forward based on the assumption that they CAN.
No matter what our stand, position, relationship or connection to disabilities is, we have the power to influence others to focus on abilities by the stories we tell and how we frame those stories.
Blog article provided by:
a #JobCreators Movement | Picasso Einstein LLC