Career Development for MRDD Adults using Authentic Learning

Career Development for MRDD Adults using Inquiry and Authentic Learning

Author: Jane DeMeis


Introduction

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Image used with permission from CDS, Inc.

(For those who are new to this field or are reading this course, but not in the field of supported employment, I would like to explain the level for who this course is written. There are many individuals who are mildly MRDD. Many can read up to a sixth grade level, some above, they can do basic math, several drive, but they all have at some point before their 21st birthday been diagnosed with cognitive disabilities. Sometimes there are cognitive disabilities coupled with physical disabilities. This course is written with those individuals in mind: who are in supported employment, and who are seeking an individual placement. This means, they are looking to work in a job that is inclusive in the community.)

Project Purpose

The reason for this course is to help individuals with cognitive disabilities such as Mental Retardation or who are developmentally disabled reach a goal of a career that is fulfilling and satisfying, just like everyone else. During my work as an Employment Specialist, I helped many people discover careers and work that was challenging and exciting, despite the fact that they were MRDD. My craft was to spend time finding out about the person and gain a real understanding of their personality and their dreams. Some of my successes included taking one young man out of a hotel housekeeping enclave, where he had worked for eight years and hated it. I worked with the Management at a fast food restaurant who was willing to hire him, and give him all the opportunities he could handle, which turned out to be a lot. I knew he could handle it because he was a very strong willed and a determined person who was eager to learn. Even though he cannot read well, he is on his way to becoming a manager himself. It was his dream to become self supporting and also be able to take care of his ailing mother. I spent many hours with him in my office, one on one, working on the exercises within this course. He finally learned to trust me and share his dreams with me. Last I heard, he was working on his driving. I had one young man who was autistic. He was hard to work with because he did not like to talk. Again, spending time with him, with me mostly doing the talking, getting to know his family and his likes and dreams, I placed him in a silk screen company. This young man was able to take the bus by himself after a couple of training trips, go to work, and do a fabulous job. Part of his first job was to inspect shirts as they came off the dryer. Because he was so meticulous, he could spot a flaw that others would not have seen. I knew that he had this trait from talking with his family and his teacher in high school. His supervisor and the owner of the company were so please they kept throwing new tasks at him and he has surpassed everyone’s early expectations. He now is silk screener, making more money than his father. The owner kept telling me to find more employees for him that were like him.

It is the purpose of this mini course to help the specialist or counselor learn as much as they can about their individual through inquiry, through the use of the internet, and then on to authentic learning by experimenting with placements.

Usually the only information that is available about the individual is from their VESID evaluation or from school records. It has been my experience that often these reports are shallow and sometimes not even the right individual. I had a psychology report on one individual that concluded that she was an energetic young woman who enjoyed cheer leading. The individual I was working with had Cerebral palsy and was very limited in her physical abilities.

Because this population does not often open up and trust, the purpose is to help the specialist/counselor find out more about their individual by using Internet tools. The activities are designed to help the specialist/counselor create an atmosphere of inquiry while assessing the individual for a employment search in a fairly brief time.

(For those who are new to this field or are reading this course, but not in the field of supported employment, I would like to explain the level for who this course is written. There are many individuals who are mildly MRDD. Many can read up to a sixth grade level, some above, they can do basic math, several drive, but they all have at some point before their 21st birthday been diagnosed with cognitive disabilities. Sometimes there are cognitive disabilities coupled with physical disabilities. This course is written with those individuals in mind: who are in supported employment, and who are seeking an individual placement. This means, they are looking to work in a job that is inclusive in the community.)

Goals

This course will look at using various methods of educational based research and development to enable the Vocational counselor and Employment Specialist to reach a more successful placement for individuals who are Mentally Retarded and/or Developmentally Disabled. [1] Often in the pursuit to create a placement, often the specialist or counselor will place someone in the job without a long term commitment or satisfaction to the individual, resulting in the person leaving the placement quickly. This mini-course is designed to reach the following goals:

The learner will be able to:

A. The learner will be able to understand different learning approaches such as authentic learning and inquiry.

B. Through the use of the Internet, the learner will develop a profile to help develop an authentic goal and placement for the individual.

C. The learner will develop strategies to use with the consumer that demonstrate authentic learning and real applications.

D. The learner will apply authentic assessments to determine is the chosen career will be successful with the use of various Internet websites such as CareerZone, VESID, ORMDD, and NYS Department of Labor. The learner will gain knowledge and skills which will enable the individual to experience career search and placement by using authentic assessment and learning and inquiry.


Definitions:

Individual: Consumer: A person who is receiving services for supported employment.

Learner: For this course, anyone who is looking to improve their placement skills who works with individuals receiving supported employment.

Supported employment: A service for MRDD individuals through VESID and/or an agency to help an individual receive counseling, skills, and support in gaining employment.


Resources:

Office of Mentally Retarded Developmentally Retarded.(2008) Frequently Asked Questions http://www.omr.state.ny.us/hp_faqs.jsp#q8

NYC Health, ( 2008) Division of Mental Hygiene. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Services and Information http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/bmrdd/bmrdd.shtml

U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (1993) What is Supported Employment? http://www.dol.gov/odep/archives/fact/supportd.htm

NYSED (2008). Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. VESID: About us. http://www.vesid.nysed.gov/all/home.html

Unit One Unit One MRDD

Unit Two Unit two MRDD

Unit three Unit three MRDD

Unit four Unit four MRDD

Conclusion Conclusion MRDD

link back to portfolio page How to develop authentic skills in vocational education for MRDD Students