Although our society is learning to be more accepting of others' differences, it is still very difficult for adults with Down syndrome to find employment. A rewarding career that will pay them for their work. So as the world is preparing for World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, 2016, over at Special & Determined, they have already started celebrating individuals with Down syndrome who are living the American Dream by owning their own businesses or who have found fulfilling employment.
On March 21, 2016 the world will be celebrating "World Down Syndrome Day," an incredibly important day to individuals with Down syndrome and their families. This is a global awareness day that is celebrated annually. This day brings awareness to advocating for the rights, inclusion and well-being of individuals with Down syndrome.
Why March 21st?
It is symbolizes what Down syndrome is. An individual with Down syndrome has an extra (a third copy) of the 21st chromosome. Normally individuals have two copies, half from the mother the other half from the father. The additional material is what causes the alternation in growth and development causing the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
Because of their cognitive delays, learning difficulties and speech delays, adults with Down syndrome find it very hard to find meaningful employment. But it is not impossible. There takes a lot of planning and education. Planning on the part of the parents to get the right team together to create a "good transition plan" which starts at age 14. Then education to employers, so they can understand the value an individual with Down syndrome can bring to the workforce.
So where do parents start?
Transition planning starts in high school, with the IEP team, counselors, job coaches and mentors. It involves looking towards the future and envisioning all the skills and preparations that will be needed for their loved one with Down syndrome to live a fulfilled life. Deciding whether there will be postsecondary plans or going right into the workforce.
There is also education that needs to take place with employers, and there are many organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society who have created a wonderful resource for employers entitled "Valued, Able and Ready To Work." Some organizations are working with local employers to create "on the job training" or "shadowing programs." This not only helps the individual with Down Syndrome understand the job, but allows them to show their skills to the employer. Employers will see the benefit to having an individual who enjoys their job, is reliable and is on time, and how that can trickle down to their other employees.
But for other individuals with Down syndrome, they may want to become entrepreneurs and own their own businesses. So with the help and support of their family and friends that do the research to help their loved one open a business doing something they love to do. Whether it's in art, or in sales individuals with Down Syndrome can be entrepreneurs making a contribution to our economy.
With the campaign that is taking place over at Special & Determined, entitled "Down Syndrome in The Workplace - Making A Contribution To Our Economy," they are celebrating 21 individuals with Down Syndrome who own their own business or having meaningful jobs, and also share organizations who employ individuals with Down Syndrome. The campaign is to help celebrate World Down Syndrome Day being celebrated on March 21, 2016 and bring awareness of how individuals with Down Syndrome can find employment.
The campaign is being run by Marla and Paul Murasko, owners of the blog Special & Determined who are also parents of a child with Down Syndrome and see the importance of education and advocacy. Visit their site (www.special-and-determined.com) to find out more about the campaign.