Ryan Honschooten, VisAbility’s Youth Support Officer in our Children’s Therapy and Support Services explores opportunities available for young people living with disability entering the workforce. In this series of three articles, Thinking of Your Child’s Career, Ryan shares his thoughts with parents and their children on how to go about finding meaningful work.
“Career planning and development is an ongoing process everyone considers throughout their life. Regardless of which year your child is in at high school, to build their confidence and direction as parents or carers, you could be encouraging them to think about their future and a career they would like to explore.
As an individual with disability, your child has a few more challenges to take into consideration and to work through in comparison with their peers. They will need to work through these challenges in order to be successful in the work or study environment they find themselves in. This is something that I know firsthand. In my career, during study, and in general day-to-day life, I’ve consistently had to overcome a variety of challenges and obstacles. I believe that keeping positive, and being independent and resilient go a long way towards being successful.
I also strongly believe it’s in your child’s best interests for them to be consistently work on bettering their life and social skills. This means they will be job ready and confident to take on employment or attend future study after school, and reduces the shock of dealing with change in environment and pace.
One area that is particularly important to develop is independence. Employers expect all workers to be independent and resilient, with the ability to get around in the community or the work environment on their own. Employers will expect your child to effectively communicate with others in a confident and appropriate way, whether that be advocating for themselves, managing workplace relationships, talking face-to-face or using technology.
Above and beyond independence, some key skill areas a teenager with disability may want to focus developing are:
- Personal care
- Home management
- Orientation and mobility
- Communication skills
- Making a good first impression
Work experience is one great way to find out what is involved in your child’s chosen career, or what a desired job involves. It can help test early on if the job is suitable for your child, or even if it’s the career they really truly want.
Work experience can also assist your child in realising for themselves that their chosen career may not necessarily be suitable to them and their disability. As parents you can guide and advise your child on their career choice, however in some situations they must learn this for themselves. Sometimes it takes until your child has come to their own realisation that their chosen career is not suitable, that they will be likely to want to explore a different career path.
So where do you start? One starting place could be Project Aspiro (link opens in new window). This is a fantastic resource for individuals living with blindness or vision impairment and their family and friends. It is a global source of information, tools and resources.
If you would like more information, or to have a chat about a career path for your child, contact our Disability Employment Services or call us on 1800 847 466.