Do people with Down’s syndrome actually want to work?
Indeed, people with Down’s syndrome have a strong sense of self-esteem and have a desire to be contributing members of society. This behaviour is visible throughout their development as one finds them increasingly eager to take charge of their day-to-day affairs and to make their own decisions.
Are people with Down’s syndrome employable?
A research carried out in the UK has revealed that as many as 81% people with learning disability at working age want to work.
So why are very few people employed at present?
Indeed, there are many possible areas where people with Down’s syndrome can be gainfully employed. There are even some areas where you may find a person with Down’s syndrome better suited than a ‘normal’ employee.
In the developed world (US, Europe, Australia), there is a growing number of people with Down’s syndrome gaining employment and leading a meaningful existence
In the past, it was believed that people with Down’s syndrome could not employed because of their disability. The reality is that they were not given any opportunity in the first place.
What are the advantages of employing people with Down’s syndrome?
Research by Joseph Roundtree foundation has shown that employees with disabilities generally stay in jobs longer than their non-disabled counterparts. They have a stronger commitment to work, good punctuality record and low absentee rates.
Which jobs are suited for people with Down’s syndrome?
Besides, by accepting people with Down’s syndrome, you would demonstrate your thought leadership as a company, with significant positive rub-off effect on your corporate image.
Companies that have engaged people with disability have reported the following as the reasons for their decision - improved staff morale, good business practice, reduced staff turnover, improved staff attendance, access to untapped pool of labour, a positive corporate image, promoting social inclusion, adherence to equal employment requirements.
People with Down’s syndrome display a strong adherence to repetitive steps and tend to do repetitive manual tasks with much better adherence than others. They love the routine and orderly tasks and can perform them meticulously.
Which jobs are not suited for people with Down’s syndrome?
There are many examples of jobs that people with Down’s syndrome have been able to perform well. These include courier reception (acknowledging incoming mails and couriers), photocopying and delivery to requestor, data entry (in specific cases where there is a high degree of clarity and monotony), school mentors, etc.
There are also some examples of people with Down’s syndrome nurturing their natural instinct for music and dance and have found their way into related professions.
Because of their learning disability, it would be unrealistic to expect a person with Down’s syndrome to perform jobs requiring analysis, calculations, decision making, etc.
What are the medical issues that an employer needs to know?
Similarly, jobs with a high degree of change or discretion may not be best suited for people with Down’s syndrome because of their natural comfort with consistency and relatively longer lead time for learning the changes to the routine. At the same time, because of their relatively shorter attention span and therefore may not be suited for jobs requiring long stints of uninterrupted work.
With improved awareness, people with Down’s syndrome receive timely medical and paramedical attention right from early stages, helping a majority of them to be free from any physical disability.
Would any adjustments need to be made by the employer?
The physical and mental ability of people with Down’s syndrome varies across a wide spectrum. It is therefore recommended not to make about what they can or cannot do and to evaluate them with respect to specific needs of the job.
Most jobs and work environments have been designed with non-disabled people in mind. It is possible that certain aspects of the job many need to be modified to suit people with Down’s syndrome.
How do I get started?
The toughest period would be the initial period. The best approach would be to start with a small commitment – say of 2-3 people. In the initial stages, one of your people may need to work as a facilitator to ensure an acceptable fit between the job and ability and also to ensure there is ‘acceptance’ for the idea within the organization.