When I was asked if I wanted to contribute to a blog about learning disabilities, I was a little skeptical to say the least, because I definitely am no expert on learning disabilities; but I do enjoy writing and doing research, so I thought why not. (The fact that my girlfriend is involved with the LDAWE and is a LST for the public school board was a motivating factor as well).
After reading some of the other posted blogs, and I sat down to write my first blog; I am now a little nervous. I realize that I know very little about learning disabilities. That being said I will concentrate more on what I do know….preparing people for the workforce.
At my job (I work at Insight Advantage Inc.) I work with adults who have physical ailments or restrictions, or have been referred to us by Ontario Disability Support Program ODSP. Many of them receive computer, life skills, customer service or job specific training either with Insight or another company or agency. (Some are even referred to us after receiving a post-secondary education.) Our ultimate goal is to help find employment for our clients. My job is twofold. The first part of my job is to teach the classes and skills I discussed above, the other part is teaching a Job Search training course which consists of creating a resume, writing cover letters, thank you letters, job searching skills and job interview preparation and training, including mock interviews. The two biggest hurdles I see clients facing (outside of the economy) are confidence and motivation. I am going to talk today about confidence.
First off let me tell you what my definition of confidence is in this context.
Dictionary.com describes confidence as: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence. In job searching it is belief in yourself and your abilities to do the job you want or are applying for. That may sound so obvious, but for somebody with an ailment or a disability (physical or learning) it is often a struggle to find that confidence. To help attain this I talk to the job seeker, get to know them, find out their interests, what they want to do, even if they do not think they could do it. What you have to do is find a job area or field they are interested in. Offer suggestions about jobs by asking, “What about…., or Can you see yourself,” questions. If the job seeker is looking for work doing something they would like, the confidence will increase. At Insight, we have the capability and means to offer job specific training as well, to help boost the confidence of the job seeker.
If you have a learning disability it is important to disclose this information to anyone helping you find a job. If you were to secure an interview, thought should be given to disclosing the disability to the interviewer, especially if it would affect your performance in the interview. In my next blog I will discuss disclosure in more detail.