How Can I Help Adult Brain Injured Son on Disability Get a Part-Time Job
June 26, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

My son is 36 years old, I have POA and am his advocate. Prior to receiving benefits, he was a very hard worker always fighting to do his best despite his ongoing associated issues. We've worked with brain injury groups to attain his independence and he's married now for the 5th time. (another story) They include cluster headaches with profuse vomiting, slurred speech, hand tremors and poor reading skills. (Doing better with medication now) He has permission from the state's "Ticket to Work" program to work part time and we have sought their help to no avail. (Out of funding). He's has gone to the manager of many fast food places, grocery stores, etc but his slurred speech and tremor makes him look like he is high on drugs, thus rendering him unemployable. They always tell him to go online and apply for the position but his work history *appears* to be sketchy and he has been on disability for 4 years now. How to explain all of this online???

He is feeling worthless, has no friends and really really wants to contribute financially to his marriage. He is honest, dependable and is drug and alcohol free. Every agency I call for the past year tells me that there is no funding. He is not eligible for vocational rehab at the state level. Would it be okay for me to show up at these places with him and beg for a job? HR people tell me that he shouldn't disclose his disability but it's so obvious! So-thinking outside the box please share your ideas with me so I can help my son. ~Sush
posted by ~Sushma~ to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Has he thought about working at a local university cafeteria? My university (state school in Pennsylvania) had a program for mentally disabled workers who served ice cream/bused tables etc that worked pretty well. The students were surprisingly supportive and kind across the board.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 9:16 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

He needs a Job Developer. Someone who could approach an employer and "sell" your son to them - not beg for a job, but really sell the employer on the idea that this man could be of great use to them and that it will be to their advantage to have him on board. This is a thing that happens all the time without government subsidy. Is there an employment service in your area that has Job Developers?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:32 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

This newsletter (link goes to a pdf), may have some ideas and web links that could be useful for you.
posted by gudrun at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I once worked with a young woman who suffered from the long term challenges of a brain injury. She cleaned kennels and walked dogs, and was great at it. Would some sort of job where he didn't work with the public be okay with him? He could volunteer at the humane society for a few months to get his foot in the door.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

Does he already have a psychologist? If so, he should ask them if they know of any services in the area to help mentally disabled individuals find work. If he doesn't have a relationship with a mental health care provider already, I would call your local mental health service and ask them for their advice.

In my small, rural hometown there was a program for mentally disabled workers that helped them find placement which the local mental health service would direct you to. WalMart greeter was a popular option.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:47 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

ms. straw works for a transitional program run by a County Office of Education, that's hosted at a community college. They have a coordinator that helps get their DD students jobs out in the community. Sounds like your son is operating at a higher level than many of their students, and a coordinator in that role may have a line on jobs that are a different level than the immediate clients said coordinator is trying to place.

Finding that coordinator role person can get you straight to a sympathetic hiring manager.
posted by straw at 10:18 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know someone who was in a similar position. Their family was able to find a sympathetic counsellor at a program where they usually wouldn't take someone so high functioning. The individual was screened a little harder than usual and thus ended up being designated and was able to take part in the program, which trained them for work as a cafeteria worker, laundry room worker and cleaner for large institutions. The plus was that those were unionized positions, so there was some peace of mind. But that's in Canada.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:29 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

HR people tell me that he shouldn't disclose his disability

This seems like it could backfire - it's my understanding that he can't claim ADA protections unless he discloses. (I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.)

Do you have access to any sort of job counseling for people with disabilities? If he is on disability, does he have access to some sort of case manager? Are there local nonprofits that specialize in connecting disabled people with work? Ask for help with job placement, not vocational training. You, as him mother, really shouldn't go to businesses and advocate on his behalf, but you may be able to connect with a trained professional who can do it for you.

I would really consider talking with a disability specialist/lawyer/something about the ramifications of disclosing his medical history. "Man heroically overcoming traumatic brain injury" might have a better chance finding work than "36 year old man with a four-year gap in his work history who slurs and brought his mother to the interview."
posted by catalytics at 10:48 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Contact Easter Seals (this is the page for Central Texas, if you are in another part of the state they can connect you with the proper chapter). They have programs specially designed to help people like your son find work that is suitable for them, with employers who are committed to hiring people with disabilities. It won't cost you anything.
posted by anastasiav at 11:44 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are there small businesses in your area that you personally frequent often enough to know the owners or managers a little? (For example, the manager of my local supermarket knows me, and we have little, friendly chats when I come in to buy my near-daily post-gym banana. Similarly, the folks at my gym, dry cleaner, the deli near my office, and a few other places know me by sight and seem happy to see me.) If I were you, I'd approach those people, your business-owning acquaintances, and explain the situation to them. Tell them that you have a son and what his capabilities are, and see if they might be open to a trial-run of having him work a few hours there.

This isn't a typical HR situation. The reason people say that parents shouldn't get involved or that people shouldn't disclose disabilities is because they're worried that it will make the job candidate appear less capable, and thus less likely to be a good employee. But your son's capabilities actually are different from the average candidate, and I think that it would be better for an employer to understand that, both because it explains why he presents the way he does, and because it means that a job he does get is more likely to work out. Your son can't advocate for himself as effectively as other people can which is why you have the POA, and his future employer should know what he can and can't do. You want to create a sort of partnership between your family and your son's future employer so that you can continue to help him and so that his employer can work with him appropriately to put him in the best possible position to succeed.

I have no idea what the legal ramifications of such a thing are. If you're worried about what they might be, you should talk to a lawyer. IANAL. But I've seen this sort of arrangement, where a parent sets up a job with a small business he's personally familiar with, work for other families of people with intellectual disabilities.
posted by decathecting at 2:13 PM on June 26, 2013

If your state's VR department is telling you they can't help because they have no funds, they should still be able to refer you to one or more Employment Networks that serve your area. ENs are third-party organizations that contract with the government to provide jobs, job placement, and career support services to disabled workers using the Ticket. You can search for ENs by state here: Alternatively, call the Ticket hotline at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY: 866-833-2967) and ask for assistance.
posted by weebil at 3:42 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you tried contacting Goodwill Industries? This is part of what they do.
posted by faineant at 5:42 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Goodwill has training and job placement programs for people with disabilities. Is there one in your area?
posted by elizeh at 6:19 PM on June 26, 2013

Googling "Community Rehabilitation Programs Virginia" brings up this site which would seem to have some good information for you. Maybe they offer or support employment programs, just for example like this one in California.
posted by Dansaman at 11:40 PM on June 26, 2013

The two jobs I have frequently noticed obviously cognitively and/or neurologically disabled people working in are movie ticket collectors and Walmart greeters.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:01 AM on July 3, 2013

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