Unit four MRDD


Back to main page Career Development for MRDD Adults using Authentic Learning

At this point in the course, you should have a pretty could idea of the personality traits and make-up of your individual which you have collected through the various exercises. You should have also compiled a list of possible job paths that your individual selected through the CareerZone website exercise. A earlier stated, the process of inquiry is: “The job-embedded nature of action research provides a real-world context and the “research” of collecting and analyzing data engages teachers in inquiry and reflection.”

In this unit, we will work on authenticating this data.

In Unit one, I defined authentic learning as real-world problems that engage learners in the work of professionals; inquiry activities that practice thinking skills and metacognition; discourse among a community of learners; and student empowerment through choice.

With the MRDD population, you have hurtles of prejudiced employers who feel that people with disabilities cannot function in the real world. If this was not true, you would not need supported employment. This is where you work on authentic skills with your individual. Due to the nature of supported employment; there usually is a demand to get them out and working. This limits the time for research and development other than actual placement. But by applying the research into personality and aspirations, you should be able to define a direction for placement.

But the news is not all bad. The government offers incentives to help with this dilemma and also allows the practice of authentic learning. By reviewing the VESID website you will see that they offer tax credits for hiring individuals which will allow the individual to “try out a job” and the employer “try out the individual”. The skill is to match the correct employer with the correct individual. Many employers are more open to the possibility of letting a individual experiment in a job for six months, knowing that they will get any money they have invested back from VESID.[[1]]

This is where you try authentic learning.

Activity: Select one area of interest of the individual. Research the skills, the potential for area employment, and the related jobs mention in CareerZone. You may find that the first choice is not going to be possible for the individual because of physical limitations. Do not let that stop you from pursuing the goal, however reality does factor in. For example, an individual may want to be a police officer. Depending on the cognitive abilities of the individual, it is probably not going to happen that they will ever be a street cop. But with the consumer, have them research similar skill type jobs. They want to be in charge or protecting, then maybe a crossing guard would work. I had an individual who worked security in a store. Work on the levels of a job until you find one that is challenging enough but has a real possible outcome. Have the individual think like the profession they are interested in. Try to create scenarios for them that would involve them responding like they have that job. For example, have the individual look at the newspaper stories that involve people in the field of their interest. Ask them how they would have reacted if they were the person in the story. Have them collect articles in a scrap book and reflect with them about their choices.

Activity: Take the individual out and about to see the reality of the job or career they are interested. The world is a different place when you are behind the counter. Have them actually visit locations where they can see firsthand what is involved in their choice. I had one young woman whose life goal was to be a McDonald’s employee. Everyone who knew her knew this was her goal. I made it happen, and within six months, she was not so happy with McDonalds. She is happier than when she was working at the workshop, and she does a pretty good job, but she never realized how much physical work was involved. This happens to all of us. We have no idea of the job until we do it.

Activity: Community Work teams. My company has several work teams that are inclusive in the community. They are completely supervised and the company provides transportation. This is an excellent method of placement for someone who never has worked before and may need supervision. It is often the first steps to individual placement. This true authentic learning, as they are given tasks that are monitored and they develop vocational skills in a safe and nurturing environment. There is a job coach who is available to work one on one and then also the Supported Work Instructor who is assigned to that enclave or work team.

Authentic Assessment: In the field of supported employment, each individual has a goal plan. This goal plan is part of their Individual Support Plan, if the individual is receiving waiver services. The goal plan is an assessment tool designed for two purposes. One is for billing and the other is for assessing the progress and successes of the placement for the individual. All individuals in my company have a goal plan whether they are working at an independent placement or in the workshop.

This assessment is reviewed every six months and a new plan is put into place every year. The original goal should be written with the individual so that they can have a say in their level of expectations. The goal should also be reviewed with the Service Coordinator, the family, or anyone else who is involved in the success of the individual. The goal should be fairly broad in the description of expectations with at least four or five tasks to achieve. It is the tasks that are measurable. The goal can be rewritten at anytime with approval of the support group for that individual.

Example: Charlie will work on improving the quality of his housekeeping skills to the standards of the hotel.

Task 1. Charlie will learn the proper method of making the bed which will include putting the sheets on in the proper direction, removing wrinkles and applying the coverlet in the described manner.

Task 2. Charlie will remember to empty all the trash and remove and disposable articles from the room.

Task 3. Charlie will place the hospitality items in the correct (can be described in the plan) locations.

And so on….

The goal is mastery. The idea is to develop the vocational skills of the individual, show and assess measurable growth, and eventually lead the individual to an employment situation that is satisfying and challenging. The ultimate goal is to get the individual to a place where they no longer need supported employment.

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