Exploring Self-Employment Opportunities for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Exploring Self-Employment Opportunities for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

♪ (Renate)So many families will
look at someone who is
self-employed and say
“Oh that’s great.
That’s fabulous.”But that wouldn’t work
for my son.
He’s got these barriers,or she’s, you know
living with these challenges…
But you know the more
stories that are out there and the more examples
that we have, and there’s a lot, it
can be for everyone, it’s just thinking
outside the box. I think that many
people understand that their adults with
disabilities have value, and they don’t
really know… how to,in quotes, “sell that”
to an employer. So, starting a business means
we get to, as families, get to have some control over
what it is that gets offered and the way in which
it gets offered. (Renate)It’s not very often
that people think
they want to be self-employed.Because a lot of people
don’t know what they want
and they don’t know
what they’re good at
and so that’s where
we start pulling things out,
and then we see,
and then they see “Wow, that’s an
opportunity.” (Deborah)Anthony at your
Service is a business
that specifically employs
adults with autism
and other intellectual
to do pick ups, deliveries, and
errands, in the Edmonton area.
Hello!We were realizing that there’s
going to have to be something.
He can’t go to school for
his entire life…
And so we started
thinking, “What will we do? What will we do?” And we
started tossing around what does Anthony like? Well Anthony likes traveling
around listening to music, he likes seeing the world,
he likes helping, and he likes to carry things
for people. And the light went on
and it was like “That’s what it is,
it’s deliveries.” So that was when Anthony at
Your Service was born.It was just intended for
Anthony at the beginning,
but like, people wanted
to help, so all of a sudden
we hadwaymore work
than we thought,
and after about the end
of the first year,
we started being asked
to do jobs at times
when we didn’t have
someone working with Anthony
and I thought,“Here’s a job for more people.” I think Anthony at Your
Service is a great model that other
families can use, they looked at what
his strengths were and they built the
business around that. And sometimes it is
a really small niche but a lot of times there
is potential for that. (Ellen)Alex’s Assistance is a
shopping business basically,
if you need…items purchased, Alex will
go do that for you. He is especially talented
at picking cards.He’s very good at
finding the right card
for the right person.We had Alex volunteer
at a few places
to see… what options
were out there, but for someone
with Alex’s disabilitythe challenge was
finding something
that he could say that he liked
and he wanted to do.
(Keri)Devon loves animals
and loves her independence
and she really struggled
finding paid employment.
Everybody was encouraging
her to volunteer. One of her first volunteer
jobs was at a groomer’s and she found that she was
doing more janitorial work than really interacting with the
animals and that frustrated her. I suggested that she open
her own dog walking business and she jumped on that. One of the things we did
was create a Facebook page for her and we also
did a promotional video and put it on her
Facebook page and it really just kind of
spread from there. Step One is figuring out what
our individual will want to do that is sustainable, that he
or she likes to do and that we can
stay involved in. The second part is figuring
out the market. Customers want to support but they also want the service
done appropriately. We want to make sure that we
comply with things like having a business license,
we want to make sure we’ve got WCB, commercial
insurance, all of those things. Those are all really
important things that we needed to learn about. (Renate)I think obviously for
the person who is self-employed,
it’s empowering.
It’s not being isolated.
Everyone feels good when
they’re doing something
that they’re good at as opposed
to being placed into a job,
where they’re trying to
make it work and it doesn’t. (Deborah)He likes doing itbecause it gets him
in the community.
It involves
him with people.
He’s contributing,
he feels valuable,
he’s proud of himself.That’s what’s important. (Ellen)I think Alex’s business
is successful
because it is what
he loves to do.
He loves to shop…He loves to be in
the malls where people are and it’s rewarding when
you can pick something that you love and
do it for a career. Those are beautiful! (Deborah)I know that if you’re
thinking about self-employment
for your child that you care
about his or her quality of life
and this is one way to
have a lot of control
and create some really unique
and exciting opportunities
for your son or daughter,
and for others. ♪

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