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for the Blind

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Need ideas please...

I am a vocational counselor at a high school working with students with developmental disabilities. We have a 5 year plan (our kids go to school until age 21) to try to even out the playing field with their regular ed peers where we utilize up to 3 hours a day on vocational training. It is our hope that by their senior year, they are training at an employer who will hire them upon graduation.

Why I am writing this is I have a student who is visually impaired that I am trying to discover his passion. As is the case with most 17 year olds, when you ask him what he'd like to do he says, "I don't know," then yes to every suggestion I make. We have had great success with many of our students by thinking outside of the box (e.g golf course jockeys instead of dishwashing or bagging) and I am looking for ideas. Everything I see online says find out your skills or what you like then gives advice, however, I need assistance thinking of vocational opportunities to match very little known skills but desire to learn.

This student is a "shaken baby" and as a result, has limited use of his left arm and hand, but reasonable use of his right. He is interested in "guy" things, but very personable and likeable, and likes to work. But, he is 17 and that means he sometimes tries harder to listen to his I-pod than be available when someone calls, and has other similar issues that most "first-job" kids haven't learned about yet, but generally speaking, he does have the desire to work and takes pride in a job well done. He is developmentally delayed, so he may take 3 months to learn a job others learn in 2 weeks but we have the time and energy to support him in this manner. He does have some vision but not enough to see detail.

Currently he is working as a dishwasher in a restaurant. The bussing isn't as successful as he can't see the crumbs or streaks on the table - like when syrup is spilled. I was approached today to put him back in the same situation next year and I would prefer to give him a different opportunity. It doesn't have to be a job where eventually he could get paid - more like a stepping stone. Many of our kids are hired as they become part of the culture of an organization, not necessarily because their job existed beforehand.

Does anyone have any ideas? I'd be so grateful. Some days it's so easy to think outside of the box, and other days it's a real struggle. Thanks so much!

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Re:Need ideas please...

Have you contacted the Vocational Rehab office near you for assistance and/or training. You can usually locate them through your local unemployment office or Job service office. Vocational Rehab. can assist with schooling or vocational training for a variety of handicaps so someone with a disability can learn to support themselves and be independent. I hope that helps.

Re:Need ideas please...

I understand how difficult it is to accomodate both the teenage aspect as well as the multiple disabilities. My first thought would be to look for something that includes contact with other employees. There may be something in a hospital setting or perhaps delivering mail in a large office. I know that many job placement specialists have had good success in working with hospitals as they have many chores that need to be done. Good luck and keep thinking out of the box.

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