Some time ago, I had an experience that continues to resonate with me. Today, I’d like to share it with you because I feel that it’s very important for all of us to think about.
I had a patient, Jaume, who came to me for help after undergoing gingival surgery.
Jaume has Down Syndrome, severe malformations of both hands, and is hyperactive… After examining his mouth thoroughly, it was very clear that he had developed a serious infection, and I had to tell him that delicately. I carefully explained to him exactly what he needed to do to overcome the infection, and that he needed to stay home and rest for a few days. But once I told him that, he showed total disagreement and said, “I’m fine! It’s just a fever. I’m just bleeding a little bit. I have a bad taste in my mouth and some inflammation, nothing is wrong!” He was repeating over and over again- “I have to go to work. They need me!”
How amazing is it that Jaume felt empowered by being needed at a job? - When individuals with special needs have a goal of obtaining a job, they will continue to focus on this goal and establishing professional relationships with their peers forever.
If you are a parent, caregiver or relative of someone with special needs, your heart wants what’s best for your loved one. What I want to recommend is that we all start thinking differently about how people with disabilities interact with the world, and specifically, the workplace. Ask your therapists and counselors about programs that actually help people accentuate their unique abilities! Help them get out there and develop the skills that they need to contribute, be challenged, accomplish goals that they are excited about, and feel needed!