Job development for students who present multiple barriers to employment (i.e., severe cognitive disabilities, severe emotional disabilities, severe physical disabilities) offers you an opportunity to think more creatively about what kind of work they can do and what kind of accommodations they will need to be successful on the job.  It also offers you an opportunity to think about networking for jobs in new and exciting ways.



Determine what the student’s interests are:


It is important to develop jobs based on the student’s interest.  There are a number of ways to determine the student’s interests and strengths, which are outlined below. 


1.      Sometimes, the student cannot tell you what his or her interests are.  When a student cannot tell you what his or her interests are, you may want to use a non-reading interest inventory.  You may also want to observe the student in a number of different settings and you will need to ask family and friends about his or her interests.  For example, when observing Bill in a store, the teacher noticed that he kept picking up a fishing pole.  Bill’s mother reported that he loved to go fishing with his brother.  Since it appeared that fishing is a major interest of Bill’s, the transition team was able to brainstorm several jobs that related to fishing.    


2.      Sometimes the student may have behaviors that may interfere with his or her likelihood of getting and keeping a job.  It is important to keep in mind that all behaviors have a message.  In this case, you will need to think about whether the behavior can be re-interpreted as an interest.  For example, a student in the Eugene School District would tear any piece of paper within her sight.  Rather than seeing this behavior as one that would keep her from getting a job, the transition team decided to consider the behavior as something she liked to do or in other words, as an interest of hers.  They brainstormed all the possible jobs that might incorporate this interest and ended up placing her in a job recycling paper in a county office, a job at which she was very successful because it incorporated her interests. 


3.      Sometimes a student may want what you might consider to be unrealistic employment expectations, i.e. a student who cannot read beyond a second grade level wants to be an airline pilot.  It is important that you not dismiss the student’s interest out of hand because it might be the strongest thing to build upon.  Perhaps the student needs more information about what an airline pilot does and what skills and abilities are required.  It is better for the student to learn for himself or herself through personal interviews or job shadowing.  You may also want to look at what other jobs are available within the aviation industry that the student may be able to do.  You may want to explore with the student what is appealing about the job and why he or she is interested in it; this may lead you to another set of job possibilities that still meet the student’s interests.


4.      Consider self-employment or small business ownership that will generate income for the student.  The student does not need to do all of the tasks associated with business ownership alone.  For example, Bob, a 49 year-old man who lived 40 years in an institution with limitations in both receptive and expressive language, relied on others for 100 percent of his needs.  The people who worked with Bob could not imagine what kind of job he could do until they became creative.  It happens, Bob loved to sit in the porch swing at his home and watch all the activity on his street.


Although swinging on the front porch is not a typical work environment, Bob was able to become a drop shipment distributor for a company that makes and sells lawn furniture.  Bob agreed to have samples of the company furniture (include a porch swing) at his home for potential buyers to see and try out.  When someone wishes to purchase any of the items, they contact the company and order directly from them.  Bob gets a commission on each sale and best of all, from his perspective, each year he gets a new porch swing!



Determine what accommodations the student will need to be successful on the job:


It is essential that the transition team have an understanding of how a job accommodation can affect the employability of the student.  Unless the transition team can envision the right accommodation or support, the student is likely to be to be determined unemployable.  A list of possible job accommodations is presented below.

Since each student will require a different mix of accommodations, it is essential that you develop an individualized accommodation plan for every student.


The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a free consulting serifs that provides information about job accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the employing people with disabilities.  JAN can be reached at 9-800-526-7234 or visit their internet site at


1.      Work Schedule: the hours of the workday and the number of hours per week.  It helps to know as much as possible about the student’s desired work schedule.  The more flexible the student is, the more jobs are potentially available to him or her.  Can the student work full time or will part-time work be needed?  Will the student need additional time to get set up before the other employees arrive?  Is the student willing to work at night or during the weekends?  Will the student need to work around the bus schedule or someone else’s schedule in order to get to and from work? 


2.      Environmental Considerations:  If the student has behaviors that may interfere with getting and keeping a job, you may need to think about environments where the behavior does not matter or environments that will reduce the likelihood of the behavior occurring.  For example, if a student has poor hygiene, the transition team might brainstorm jobs where good hygiene is not as essential as other jobs; e.g., collecting garbage, carpenter’s helper, paint mixer.  If the student has trouble getting along with others, the transition team should brainstorm job sites where contact with other employees and the public is limited.


3.      Reasonable Accommodations:  A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of the job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.  Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees with disabilities unless undue hardship would result.


An individual is considered to be a qualified applicant if he or she satisfies the employer’s requirement of the job, such as education, employment experience, skills or licenses and is able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations.  An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant because his or her disability prevents them from performing non-essential job duties.  If an applicant needs and/or wants a reasonable accommodation, they must request it from the employer although the applicant is not required to identify a disability; therefore, the focus of the discussion should be on the specific job functions where accommodations are needed to complete the task.  You or the applicant should be prepared to identify the specific accommodations that are needed. 


Reasonable accommodations can consist of a variety of supports and arrangements; some of which do not present an undue hardship to the employer including, but not limited to:

a)     providing or modifying equipment or devices

b)     job restructuring

c)      part-time or modified work schedules

d)     reassignment to a vacant position

e)     adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies

f)        providing readers and interpreters

g)     making the workplace readily accessible


4.      Job Coaching:  A job coach may be needed to help the student learn his or her job.  The job coach generally works on site alongside the student providing instruction and support until the student learns the job to the employer’s satisfaction.  Depending upon the student, the job coach may use any number of accommodations that best meet the student’s learning style.


5.      Instructional Strategies:  There are a variety of instructional strategies that can be used to train the student their job duties and work responsibilities.  However, since training by a job coach may draw attention to the student, it may also isolate them from co-workers and the supervisors.  It is essential that the job coach has knowledge of training strategies, the student support needs and preferred learning style.  The job coach must also be aware of the employers support needs and the demands of the workplace in order to select the least intrusive method for providing support and instruction.


Specific instructional strategies may include the following:

a)     job analysis, job duty and task analysis

b)     natural supports

c)      use of least prompt procedures such as indirect verbal instructions, model prompts, partial physical assistance and full physical assistance

d)     modeling

e)     natural cues

f)        adding an extra cue to the natural cue

g)     compensatory strategies

h)      reinforcer technique

i)        self-management procedures

j)        increasing production to company standards

k)      increasing the student’s independence while fading the job coach’s presence from the job site.


In many cases, a combination of strategies will be selected to promote the student’s success on the job.  The key to long-term employment for the student is determining which combination will promote independence while gradually fading the job coach’s support to the supervisor and co-workers.



There are several things that should be considered when identifying, selecting and facilitating natural supports. The job coach should determine and review all the possible workplace support resources and options with the student, supervisor and co-workers.  Second, a transition team member or job coach needs to determine which options match the learning style or needs of the student.  The supervisor, co-workers and student’s level of comfort with the identified support(s) needs to be determined.  The transition team members or job coach need to determine which support options result in or promote customer independence since co-workers and supervisors are not always available to assist the student.



Assistive technology may include low-tech items that are simple, with few or no moveable parts.  Some examples of low-tech devices are a) build-up or enlarged handles on work tools; b) dycem (a non-skid mat that can stabilize work materials); c) keyguards; d) laptrays; e) book stands; and f) reachers.  Low-tech items can be purchases through hardware or medical supply or catalogues or can be made from materials found in home workshops at a low cost.


Assistive technology may also include high-tech devices such as a computer, robotics and environmental control units. Rehabilitation engineers, occupational, physical and speech therapists, or other rehabilitation personnel can help identify and secure these devices.  Some possible sources of funding for high-tech items are the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Social Security Work Incentives, private insurance, granting agencies and the employer.


·        Compensatory Strategies:  Compensatory strategies can help the student learn and perform independently or eliminate instruction and allow the student to participate in activities that they otherwise would not be able to do.  Compensatory strategies should be designed with input from the student, supervisor and co-workers and not stigmatize the student and should be simple to use.  Any materials used must be those that any adult would use and be accepted within the work culture of the employment site.  The lease intrusive strategy should be use first.  Some examples of compensatory strategies are presented below.


Picture books, checklists, audiocassettes, assignment boards, color coding, or flow charts can help a student remember the sequence of job duties.  If the student has difficulty reading copy requests to determine work assignments, the following compensatory strategies may be helpful:

a)     in/out boxes for each co-worker requesting work with name or picture of co-worker on the box

b)     audiocassette requests for copy work

c)      special form highlighting relevant features to the task, such as thick outlined box where number of copies is written


If the student can’t count to package work materials, these compensatory strategies may help:

a)     sample of package for matching work

b)     strips of tape on the table that corresponds to number of items in package

c)      box with number of dividers that correspond to number of items in package

d)     picture with number of items in package


6.      Job Site Modifications:  If a student is having difficulty learning the job duties, the job coach or another transition team member will need to modify the training program to meet the needs of the student.


 One step is to analyze the training program to determine where changes can be made:

a)     does the prompting procedure match the student’s learning style

b)     is the student responding to natural cues

c)      is the student distracted by noise or people and can the location of the task be modified to decrease distractions

d)     do the number of job duties being taught need to be reduced to provide repeated practice on a specific job duty


A second step is to evaluate the task analysis:

a)     does it match the student’s abilities

b)     can the steps be further broken down

c)      have the physical abilities of the student been taken into consideration and can the task analysis be modified to match the student’s motor skills

d)     does the task analysis eliminate the need to make quality judgements


A third step is to assess the reinforcement:

a)     are the naturally occurring reinforces meaningful to the student

b)     does he or she need additional reinforcement to learn the job duty

c)      if a selected reinforce is being used, is it meaningful to the student

d)     is the timing of reinforcement correct

e)     has the reinforcement been faded too quickly


A fourth step is to consider Assistive technology: 

a)     is the student’s mobility or motor skills affecting their skill acquisition

b)     can the student physically perform the job but is it difficult or physically impossible for them to meet production demands

c)      has the work site been modified to meet the student’s physical support needs

d)     are work supplies positioned for maximum accessibility

e)     would the student’s level of independence be increased with the use of Assistive technology 


7.      Personal Assistance Services:  Personal assistance services such as personal care assistance, personal assistance with transportation to and from work; reader services, job coaches and related assistance may remove many of the barriers between significant disability and work.  In general, personal assistance services are those used by individuals with disabilities to perform tasks that a person would perform independently if they did not have a disability.  Personal assistance can be needed for reading, communication and performing manual tasks such as turning pages, assistance in bathing, eating, toileting, personal hygiene and dressing.


Job related assistance in the performance of such tasks as reading, communication, the performance of non-essential manual tasks and business related travel may be considered reasonable accommodations for which the employer is responsible—unless undue hardship would result.  Assistance in performing such tasks as toileting, dressing, eating and personal hygiene are personal in nature and are generally considered reasonable accommodations.  Medicaid may pay for these personal tasks if the student is eligible. 


8.      Work Responsibilities: Sometimes, despite efforts to change the instruction, modify the workplace or add Assistive technology devices, the student still has difficulty performing the job tasks or meeting production standards.  In these instances, the transition team or job coach may need to see if the student can share the job duty with a co-worker (job sharing) or switch for one that is of equal responsibility (job restructuring).  Job restructuring is also a good strategy to use when a job seeker is not “qualified” to do the job as originally structured or able to perform all aspects of the current job opening.  Since ideas for job restructuring may not be obvious, the transition specialist or job coach may need to spend time analyzing the business to determine the potential or undiscovered need.  Obviously, these ideas will need to be discussed with the employer.


9.      Long Term Supports: Some students will need long-term support to help them with employment retention.  The transition team will need to determine individualized strategies that will assist in career advancement and facilitate long-term job satisfaction for the student and the employer.  The transition team will need to analyze long-term funding issues and options.  The actual long-term supports provided are based on the work completed during training and are focused on the changing needs of the student.


Long-term supports include both those that are directly related to the student’s job and personal life.  These include training, employer and co-worker support and those that are arranged and delivered away from the workplace, i.e., housing, leisure, financial support, transportation and relationships.  If any of these areas are left unresolved, the student’s employment stability may be directly or indirectly impacted.


General long-term support needs should be discussed prior to job development with more specific long-term support needs identified as the student begins to learn the job.  The transition team should develop a well-established plan for long-term support to ensure that the necessary supports are maintained.  The plan should identify the student’s needs, support options and student preference; and determine level of support, primary support and back-up support.


Obtaining and maintaining funding for long-term supports can be complex and require collaboration among a number of resources.  Difference in individual support needs and funding resources will require creative thinking as to how, and from whom, services are funded and provided.  Some possible sources of funding for long-term supports include a) the State Developmental Disabilities Program; b) Medicaid home and community-based waivers; c) Social Security Work Incentives – Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) and Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE); d) business supports; e) community supports, i.e., churches, volunteer groups and agencies, college internship programs, civic groups, friends and neighbors; and f) small business tax credits.


Use Personal Networks to Find Jobs

Personal networks are where job development should begin.  A personal network consists of all of the people that the student and his or her family know, including other family members, friends and neighbors.  It also includes community connections through religious organizations, local services or stores and clubs.  It may also include business or professional relationships such as teachers, classmates, doctors and former employers and co-workers.  You want as many people as possible identifying potential jobs for the student.  Each member of the student’s network accesses his or her own network to expand the number of job leads.  Some questions to help you identify personal networks are presented below.


·        Where does the student like to go for shopping or leisure time activities?  Has he established any relationships at those places?  Do people who work there know him  personally?  Do they know his or her family personally?

·        Who does the student generally spend his or her free time with?  Do they have jobs or job leads? 

·        What personal connections do they have?

·        Does the student participate in any clubs or organizations?  Does his or her family belong to any clubs or organizations?


Use Personal Networks and Mentoring Relationships


Personal networks are where job development should begin.  A personal network consists of all of the people that the student and his or her family know, including other family members, friends and neighbors.  It also includes community connections through religious organizations, local services or stores and clubs.  It may also include business or professional relationships such as teachers, classmates, doctors and former employers and co-workers.



Acknowledgement:  Adapted from Supported Employment Handbook:  A Customer-Driven Approach for Persons with Significant Disabilities edited by Valerie Brooke, Katherine Inge, Amy J. Armstrong and Paul Wehman of Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Supported Employment at Virginia Commonwealth University, February 1997. 





1.      It has been said that teenagers consider long‑range planning as what to do for the next three hours. While that's an exaggeration, it's important to remember that special education students face the developmental tasks of adolescence as well as the particular problems created by their disabilities.


2.      Job Placement can be that "something else.” Most of the students we work with have had bad experiences in school. Many of them feel like failures. Job Placement appeals to them not only because it makes school more interesting but also because it puts them in an arena where they can be very successful.


3.      Obviously, an individual student's abilities, interests and needs will have an effect on how you work with him/her, where you look for a placement site, what type of training will be necessary and what, if any, modifications will need to be made. There are two points to remember:


a)     Don't make any assumptions about what a student will or won't be able to do based on his/her disability; work with them on an individual basis to find out.


b)     The special education teachers are well versed in both the generalities and the specifics of the students they're working with—be sure to make use of what they can offer.


Do as little as necessary for each student. Some students need a lot of help but there are others that need only a little.  For instance, for one student it might be necessary to not only find the job but actually work with the student for the first few times. Another student might need help on how to look for work but would be quite capable of actually doing it.


You may need to teach students about all aspects of working: time cards, breaks, evaluations. Sometimes it works out better to teach this as it happens on the job because its relevance is immediately apparent to the student.

It’s important to consider the student's interests when determining possible placements. If they're interested in a job, it's much more likely to be successful for all concerned.  Ideally, students have participated in a variety of work experiences and work assessments before placement.  The information gained can also help you determine a good placement.


Often the students have interests that don't coincide with their abilities or they have been so isolated that they only know about jobs they've seen portrayed on television (and how many shows have a busboy as a central character?) and (perhaps) their parents’ occupations.  In this case, talk with students about the skills necessary to do a job they're interested in. Then help them identify their skills. Gently compare the two lists. Try to find out what excites the student about a certain job. For instance, if he/she wants to be a doctor, is it because of an interest in medicine? In white uniforms? In excitement and sirens? Is it one of the only jobs he/she knows about? Once you know, you may be able to satisfy the interest another way.

All jobs have a combination of three factors: People, Data and Things. In addition, one factor will probably predominate. Most people have a strong preference for one of those factors. Put "Things" people in "Things" jobs and "People" people in "People" jobs (or you are absolutely asking for trouble). You can pick this up fairly easily by talking to the student or by observing him/her. Does a student spend time chatting with you and asking you questions about your life? If so, he/she probably is a People person. Does he/she spend most of his/her time dealing with objects? Telling you about the car he's rebuilding at home? Probably a Things person.






From Transition to Adult Living: A Guide for Secondary Education

California Department of Education



Parents as Equal IEP Members


Families provide the most relevant information


A major task of the IEP team is to obtain present levels of performance data on a student with a disability.  Valuable information in this regard can be provided to the IEP team by families when their student reaches transition age.  Families can assess and support their student’s transition needs by asking the following questions:


·        What opportunities has our son or daughter had to participate in non-disabled, organized social groups?

·        What types of social situations or activities does our son or daughter prefer?

·        Does our son or daughter require any accommodations, specialized or compensatory equipment, devices or systems (e.g., augmentative communication) to participate in these social situations or activities?

·        What about exploring career opportunities?

·        What paid or non-paid work does our son or daughter enjoy and do well?

·        What work related skills has he/she developed?



Ways parents can support transition


Grade 9

·        Discuss career plans, options, dreams and goals with your child.

·        Develop systematic four-to-six-year plan of study.

·        Review with your child the necessary requirements for high school graduation.

·        Become aware of the career training opportunities in school and in the community.

·        Understand education and training requirements in career areas of interest.

·        Help your child become familiar with student organizations or clubs in school or in the community.

·        Stress the importance of staying in school and earning a diploma.

·        Understand the difference between a diploma and a Certificate of Educational Achievement or Completion.


Grade 10

·        Review your son’s or daughter’s academic performance and progress toward the four-to-six-year plan of study.

·        Check on financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

·        Attend career fairs with your son or daughter.

·        Talk with people who work in positions related to careers of interest to your son or daughter.

·        Explore degree or vocational programs available at your local community college.

·        Continue to stress the importance of staying in school, earning a diploma and pursuing postsecondary school options.

·        Review the eleventh grade plan of study with your son or daughter, including as many general education classes as appropriate.


Grade 11

·        Check on college entrance exam dates and registration procedures.

·        Review your son’s or daughter’s academic performance and progress toward the four-to-six-year plan of study.

·        Identify entrance requirements of various postsecondary career training options in the community.

·        Review graduation requirements and your son’s or daughter’s progress toward earning a diploma.

·        Check on financial aid and scholarships

·        Review the twelfth grade plan of study for your son or daughter, including as many general education classes as appropriate.

·        Learn about the salary and benefits in the career area of interest.

·        Check on the education and training requirements for your child’s area of interest.


Grade 12

·        Check the due dates for financial aid and scholarships.

·        Recheck graduation requirements and your son’s or daughter’s progress toward graduation.

·        Help your son or daughter complete and check applications to postsecondary education or career training options.

·        Check on available support services in college or career training options (e.g., Disabled Student Services).

·         Learn about costs associated with post-school training and/or living arrangements.






Maria’s and John’s families support the IEP goals and objectives in the following ways:


Maria and her family designed community experiences to support Maria’s transition plan to adult life:

Since Maria has learned about recycling at school, her first chore at home will be recycling the newspapers.  Maria will pick up the papers in the living room each morning before school and put them in a box in the garage.  Then she will put the newspapers in paper sacks on the evening before the recycling truck comes and put the sacks at the curb for pick up in the morning.

She will help her mother fold the laundry.

She will help set the table each evening for dinner.  To start, Maria and her mother will work together until Maria can do it by herself.

Maria’s mother will make a chart with a picture for each chore and days of the week.  Maria will check off each time she completes a chore.

Chores will be added as routines are established.

The family decided to talk to their regional center worker and their pastor to explore different community services for volunteer or work opportunities.





John and his family design his ongoing home and community experiences to support his transition plans to adult life.

I baby-sit for my twin sisters.

I cook meals for my family.

I shop for groceries.

I wash my own clothes.


John’s family supports and reinforces the self-advocacy skills he is learning in school – how to talk about his disability and the types of accommodations he needs.

·        John’s parents provide a variety of hands-on tasks for John to do at home.

·        John’s aunt is helping him use the computer for writing homework assignments.

·        John’s parents are helping him take charge of his medications and consultations with his physician.


His mother and father support his interest in the graphic arts and music.  The family goes on outings to concerts and art exhibits.






Ways Parents Support Their Students’ Growth and Development Towards Self-determination


·        Self-determination and self-advocacy skills will enable your daughter or son to participate fully and meaningfully in planning for her/his future.



Ways Parents Can Nurture Self-determination and Self-Advocacy


·        Allow your daughter/son to “grow” (take risks, safe experiences) and try out new things.

·        Recognize that all young people will make mistakes and change their minds before settling on a definite path.

·        Learn how to assist or let your daughter/son advocate for herself or himself.

·        Know when to “step-back” or when to “step-in” without taking over.

·        Help your son or daughter feel good about himself/herself and to understand his/her challenges/disabilities.

·        Emphasize what he or she can do.  Celebrate accomplishments.


Your own family’s religious beliefs and cultural values provide opportunities for learning.


REMEMBER, self-determination doesn’t just happen.  It requires a great deal of preparation, practice, and partnership with schools and agencies





The development of the Transition to Adult Living: A Guide for Secondary Education was coordinated by Diana Blackmon, consultant for the California Department of Education, Special Education Division.




Family Partnerships


Family members provide the most long-term and important support in a person’s life and can make critical contributions to successful employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.


The type and severity of the family member’s disability can also affect family inter-relationships. Progressive disabilities require families to continually adapt and change roles. Families can become exhausted from acting as primary caregiver to individuals with spinal cord injury or other chronic medical conditions, or from stresses resulting from a family member’s traumatic brain injury or psychiatric disabilities. Families of individuals with cognitive disabilities may assume lifelong roles as guardians and conservators.


Benefit of Family Partnerships


Family partnerships can assist teachers and transition specialists to achieve program goals in the following ways:


Families provide increased awareness of the needs and strengths of the student.

Communication with family members can enhance effective communication with students during the transition process.

Families provide support for the special education program.

Families who are partners and stakeholders will have intimate knowledge of the program and a vested interest in the need for the program to “work” for the family member. Families can assist in promoting the special education program by being involved in advocacy roles and developing political awareness.


Families help improve service to diverse and undeserved populations.

With family participation, an increase in the number of job opportunities may result. A report of a June 1996 study by the Center on Promoting Employment (RRTC Boston) “demonstrates that family members play crucial roles not only in career preparation but in actual job search efforts. Young adults both with and without disabilities find that using their personal network of relatives, friends or neighbors is the most effective way to find a job” (Point of Departure, TATRA 1996).


The value of the family should never be underestimated. As noted in Point of Departure, families can help to:


Family Contributions


Disability clearly has an impact on the whole family. Yet, despite all the stresses related to a family member’s disability, families are resilient. Love and caring can be the source of motivation, energy, action and commitment to the well being of their family member with a disability. The categories below reflect a range of roles families may assume that enhance their family member with a disability’s ability to reach successful transition outcomes.


Working with Families


Alliance building requires engaging families by creating personal connections.

Build trust by following through on promises – particularly important when previous experiences with service providers have not been positive.


Impediments to Family Involvement


What is standing in the way of family involvement in the transition process?


Unfamiliarity with systems hinders family involvement.

Families may have little energy left to devote to navigating service systems and can find them intimidating. Parents and families used to the special education system may have established ways of relying on the educational system, which do not carry over to adult support services. Many parents of young adults with disabilities are unprepared for the move from a single agency to multiple agencies, from mandated services to non-mandated services and from a system that assumes no rejection, a least restrictive environment, accountability and the importance of family involvement to one that does not.


Families may be reluctant to participate for other reasons.

For example, families are exhausted from meeting the daily needs of their family member with a disability; are tired of dealing with the system, or have had negative experiences and want to avoid further interactions. While professionals encourage maximizing adult independence, they may not understand the impact this will have on a family. Families may approach the system with fears stemming from previous interactions with government agencies. Culturally diverse families may have been discriminated against or felt disrespected when they sought help from government programs in the past. Aging parents of older adults with disabilities may be equally skeptical of service systems because years ago professionals recommended institutionalization of their family member. Parents may also be influenced by mainstream cultural norms that emphasize less parental involvement in the daily life of their adult sons and daughters.


Families report feeling judged when they come into contact with professionals.

When their expressed preferences are quickly dismissed as “unrealistic,” families feel they are not being taken seriously. Professionals can unknowingly send a message to caregivers that they are either doing too little or too much. Families can feel they can’t do anything right –


If we are concerned, we are overprotective; if we are unconcerned we are neglectful.

If we are involved, we are demanding; if we are not, we are detached.

If we have high expectations we are unrealistic; if we have simple aspirations we set our sights too low.

If we nurture generously, we are smothering; if we nurture less we are withholding.

If we offer advice, we are controlling; if we refrain we are disinterested.

If we phone, write or visit often, we are pests; if we don’t, we are uncaring.

If we help with tasks or give or loan money, we cultivate dependency; if we don’t, we are unsupportive.


Based on “Why Mothers Have a Tough Time” attributed to Jordan Miller, MD Center for the Study of Women’s Psychology





From: The Family as a Critical Partner in the Achievement of Successful Employment Outcome 

Twenty-Sixth Institute on Rehabilitation Issues 2000

Region 6 Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program (RCEP) at the University of Arkansas





Getting a job requires different skills than keeping a job. There are four important points that must be considered:


Proper Job Search Techniques

There are many myths about how to search for a job in our society. The biggest is probably, "The best qualified applicant will get the job." Actually, the person who gets the job is usually the one who best knows how to look for work.

You owe it to your students to research the latest information about job search techniques. For instance, studies have shown that only about ten to twenty percent of all jobs ever get into the want ads. Therefore, to spend most of the instructional time focusing on how to read and reply to want ads is unwise. Students need to be taught about the hidden job market and how to approach employers directly.  Students need to be made aware of community resources such as the Alaska Job Center Network, Job Fairs and other agencies that help people find work.  It is a good idea to visit the Alaska Job Center Network offices with your students.  There are employment counselors and resource rooms available to students in their job search.  For a full listing of Job Centers in your area, visit the Department of Labor and Workforce Development website at  Students also need to learn how to take advantage of the Internet in their search for employment.


The Paperwork of Job Hunting

Sometimes students may have trouble reading and writing. Some students can be taught how to transfer information neatly from a master application. Others need to be taught to ask someone else to help them fill out an application. The same goes for résumés.  Make sure they have a Social Security card and picture ID.


Interviewing Skills

People need to be taught how to make the best impression they can during job interviews. Topics such as establishing rapport, the most common interview questions, and proper grooming and attire must be addressed.  Role playing job interviews can be a very effective teaching technique for many students.


Accommodations Needs

As much as possible, students need to know about their disabilities, how to discuss what accommodations and adaptations they may need to successfully perform the job functions, how to capitalize on their strengths and how to compensate for them, and how to talk to an employer about them.