What Will Become of Him?
This is my son! He is a typical American kid. He loves sports, climbing trees and creating rocketships and submarines using cardboard boxes, tape and whatever else he can get his hands on. He is healthy, strong, alert, very polite, has a great personality and loves to please others. His creativity is off the charts. He goes to an outstanding special day school where he is learning beyond what the experts said he would. He is curious about everything. One last thing, my boy also has a developmental disability [DD].
If he didn’t have a developmental disability his future would look bright. We’d be thinking about colleges he could attend when the time comes. He would be in competitions. He would have trophies in his room and ribbons hanging on his bedroom walls. He would have lots of friends, invitations for play-dates, sleep-overs and kids to play with at the community pool. And someday he would have a meaningful job making a livable wage.
According to a report published by the National Board of Labor Statistics released this summer, “. . . in 2015, 17.5 percent of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65.0 percent. The employment-population ratio for persons with a disability edged up in 2015, and the ratio for persons without a disability continued to increase. The unemployment rate for persons with a disability fell to 10.7 percent in 2015, and the rate for those without a disability declined to 5.1 percent.”
While these numbers are to a slight degree encouraging, they are not something we should be proud of. Despite the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, employment rates for people with disabilities remains far lower than for people without disabilities. So why are employers not hiring people with developmental disabilities?
According to a study funded by the United States Department of Education and conducted by researchers Mark L. Lengnick-Hall, Philip M. Gaunt and Adrienne A. R. Brooks, there are two primary approaches to improving the employment of indi