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Brent, his family, and his care team have worked hard to find the accommodations he needs to be independent.
Finding Independence at Work and Home
Brent | February 9, 2018 | Family Care Client
Brent is like most 22-year-old young men. He has a job and lives in a home with three other roommates. This is the way his mom Lisa always saw it for him. She always wanted Brent, who is legally blind, to have options that allowed him to live his life independently as an adult. It took a lot of perseverance to get to this point and now it is paying off.
“He’s an independent young person. He likes living with his roommates, and likes to visit his parents every once in a while, but also likes to go back home again,” she says. “He’s doing the things a 22-year-old should be doing.”
A member of Family Care program in Washington County, Brent and his family began working with his care team before he was out of high school to find an apartment where he could live independently. Lisa says they were very goal-oriented in their plans for Brent. They wanted to find the right place for him to live and that meant finding the right fit.
Brent also continued to work with career classes through the high school including job sampling and very short-term job trials. He tried a number of different jobs for a few weeks, but they were not always a good fit for Brent’s skills and abilities and he had a hard time learning them in such a short time. He also received orientation and mobility training and help with navigating through town, using taxis, getting in and out of buildings, and learning about necessary adaptations to the workplace.
More recently, he was able to complete a longer job trial at a local hotel, for more than two months, more than once a week. He had worked there once for a shorter trial while he was in high school and remembered some of the people he worked with. Trying the job for an extended amount of time gave him a chance to learn the job and also the physical layout of the hotel so that he could get around easily.
After his trial the hotel offered Brent a permanent position and he now works there part-time three days a week. He mops the floors, cleans, takes out the trash, helps the maintenance workers and others. He enjoys his job and Lisa says it makes him feel important and a part of the community. She says his employer told him they feel the work he does is important too. Having him there makes it easier on the other employees. For example, a coworker who had a sore leg told Brent her leg didn’t hurt as bad anymore because he was able to help with some of her work.
“It was really nice to see how supportive and accommodating everybody was,” Lisa says about a time when she observed Brent at work.
Brent is also excited about the job and the paycheck he is now earning. Lisa took a picture of him with his first paycheck, which he says he plans on saving. He may use it to visit family in Minnesota that he hasn’t seen in a while or maybe to go to see a game in Chicago, since he’s a Bears and White Sox fan.
“It’s really nice. I know what needs to be done, ” Brent says of the job.
Lisa says she continues to see growth in him. One day when they didn’t need the taxi that gives Brent rides to and from work, Lisa wasn’t sure how to cancel it. She said she was so proud when he took the phone from her and did it himself, knowing who to call and speaking clearly so they could understand.
Lisa hopes other businesses will continue to think about ways that they can have individuals with disabilities get involved in the workplace. She says it takes some creative thinking, but there are a lot of benefits for the business and for the worker.
“It’s a big unknown, but it’s worth giving it a shot,” she says.