You may wonder what will happen when your young adult with Down syndrome ages out of the school system. What will he or she spend their time doing? Will they ever be able to live independently? Are there any government programs that can help provide for their care?
It Can be a Scary but Exciting Time
You feel so proud of your Down syndrome (DS) child but so uncertain about their future, almost as if you were walking on a tightrope without a net. Rest assured, though, that there are programs for your young adult which can help them live independently and have a satisfying life.
Young adults with Down syndrome can work. They often live either on their own with some help, and can even get married.
Develop a Transition Plan When Your Loved One Leaves School
Every person with Down syndrome is different, of course, so no two life courses will be the same. When your child is getting ready to leave school, you will want to meet with school officials and try to develop a transition plan for them. You will want to consider several things.
Do you think your child is able to work? Young adults with DS can hold a variety of jobs, for example, working in restaurants.
Jobs for Young Adults with Down Syndrome
The desire to feel productive in some way is common to most people, including people with disabilities. Many young adults with DS want to work, but many face multiple obstacles in their way when trying to get a job and find work that they can do. Here are three tips for finding employment for your loved one:
Computers Open Job Opportunities
Computers are opening up job opportunities for young adults with Down syndrome that were never there before. Many jobs in the past required a lot of social interaction and keeping track of large amounts of data and skills in one's head. Now, with the advent of computers, a lot of this work has been simplified, and a lot of communication can take place over email. On a computer, the challenges that a young adult with DS faces might not be as noticeable.
Here are other jobs that young adults with Down syndrome can do using the computer:
Manual Labor are a Good Option for Adults with Down Syndrome
Simple jobs using manual labor are a good option for a lot of young adults with Down syndrome. Some people could handle receptionist or office assistant jobs in a low-key place, if they have particularly good communication skills. Restaurant work is a common field for people with Down Syndrome.
Prejudice can be a big problem when it comes to people with Down syndrome getting hired. As the Guardian newspaper reports,
"Some employers mistakenly assume that people with Down's syndrome have mental health problems. And as people with Down's share "similar" physical characteristics, they are judged immediately on those rather than anything else", says Carol Boys, the DSA's chief executive. "Employers are merely looking at the label and making assumptions about what people can and cannot do, when there is such a wide range of abilities."
"In the US, drugstore giant Walgreens is enjoying the benefit of recognizing these abilities. Its distribution centre in South Carolina is reckoned to be 20% more efficient than any of its others - and 42% of the full-time workers there have a physical or cognitive disability, including Down's syndrome, says Randy Lewis, Walgreens' senior vice-president of distribution and logistics." ("Opening Doors," 18 August 2007, the Guardian, Matt Keating)
It may take some time, but eventually you will find the right placement as your child transitions into adulthood. Whether it be a sheltered workshop or traditional employment, everyone has a place somewhere. It just takes longer for some people to find their place. Growing up is an exciting thing, and no less so for young adults with Down Syndrome.