With increase in awareness and sensitivity, the career opportunities for adults with special needs has also seen an upward trend. More companies now welcome special need adults to be a part of their organization, not as a charity measure but because they are valuable. Renowned companies that offer inclusive employment opportunity to special needs people are Microsoft, SAP, Willers Towers Watson, Walgreens etc.
"They pleasantly surprised us. Our challenges have been more with normal people".-Mirchi and Mime is a Mumbai based retaurant set up in 2015 with a staff chiefly consisting of people with hearing and speech disability. Most of the activities are undertaken by the staff members who communicate with customers through sign language.
“Hiring differently abled is not a charity but a business decision for us. My guests love them too” Patu Keswani, CMD, Lemon Tree Hotels-Lemon Tree Hotels, Hotel Chain with 40 hotels in 24 cities. Currently Lemon Tree has 22% Special need staff with Autism, Down syndrome and speech and hearing impairment.
Increasingly more number of companies have realized that special need people add more value to their organization in terms of more productivity and less attrition rate (number of people leaving the organization). A baby step has been taken in the direction of inclusive employment for special needs people but a lot has to be done. Awareness, Compassion, Love and Support are the key ingredients that can make this happen faster. There is still stereotype associated with special needs. Time and again various special need people have done something great and have achieved something way beyond expectations.
There are various business verticals where adults with special needs can do wonders. Coding, Data Mining, Motivation speakers are a few of them. Based on the skill set and the comfort in social interaction, special need adults and their family members can help their kids get the best job available for them. There are various profiles where need to interact with others is lesser and could be a boon for people with special needs.
1) Education Sector: There is vast scope for special needs adults in the education sector. As per ability and movement capacity you may choose to teach kids online, by going to schools / colleges / universities, additionally you may run hobby based classes as per your skills. Special needs people may start a special education center for kids with special needs and help them in their journey, they would have firsthand experience of the problem and how did they overcome the problem and could be a guide to others. They may also become a corporate trainer or motivational speakers. They may motivate school kids, corporate employees to break free from all barriers or obstacles and have a positive outlook towards life and the world around them at large. Kerry Magro, is an excellent example. He is a Professional Speaker at National Speakers Association and best-selling author who is also active on the autism spectrum and started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education.
2) Coder / Programmer / Software Engineer: You are not good at understanding emotions and the hidden meaning behind the words; this job profile may interest special need adults. Talk to machines in 0,1 and they will reply in the same language based on some logic; no hidden meaning no mischief. Since people with special needs like autism have a different perspective and are more process driven can be a great fit for code testing / software testing profile. Specilisterne is a thriving software company. However, these colleagues had to meet a certain job requirement in order to get hired -- they must have autism. Specilisterne means "Specialists," and they test software. It is a tedious click by click process where most of us would lose focus and make mistakes. Thorkill Sonne (Founder), says workers with high-functioning autism have different brain wiring that gives them an edge. They have a good memory, they have very strong attention to detail, they are persistent … within their area of motivation and they follow instructions."
3) Food Junction, restaurants and clubs If you love cooking and wish to explore your creativity in foods and food items, you can start your own food junction or even work at a food store in support services or as per matching your skills. Collette had Down syndrome; she launched her business from her Boston apartment and started taking online delivery orders. She was covered by the television media and is doing great and her cookie business is thriving.
Aditi Verma (Down syndrome) is also an inspiration. The young entrepreneur is successfully running her own restaurant in Mumbai.
4) Writer or creative artist Depending upon your skills and wishes of interaction with people you can explore your creativity with brushes as painter or become an artist. Hans Christian Andersen and William Butler are great examples; they are Children’s Author and a Poet respectively.
5) Data Scientist As a data scientist, formulate approaches to solve problems using well-defined algorithms and data sources. They use data exploration techniques to discover new questions or opportunities within the problem area and propose applicability and limitations of the data. They engage with peer stakeholders to produce clear, compelling, actionable insights that influence product and service improvements that will impact millions of customers. A data scientist, engages in the peer review process and act on feedback while learning innovative methods, algorithms, and tools to increase the impact and applicability of your results.
6) Creative Thinking, Out of the box Every person is unique, the same is true for special needs people, and they have a different way of looking at things. This may help organizations in thinking out of the box, special needs adults may have a different perspective to the problem and how the problem can be solved. Special need people could be very creative in nature. A study published in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found a strong link between autism and creativity. Autistic people have restricted interests and hence they tend to be expert of the subject.
7) Sports Person If special needs kids have interest towards sports they can become great sports personality. A very good example is Michael Phelps who was diagnosed with ADHD. Simone Biles, Olympic gymnast, hailed as the best gymnast of all-time, has ADHD. Justin Gatlin, professional track star and Olympian, has ADD, Tim Tebow, professional baseball player and professional football player, has a form of dyslexia, Magic Johnson, former professional basketball player for the LA Lakers, has dyslexia and ADD Chris Kaman, professional basketball player, was diagnosed with ADHD and a language processing disorder, Brandon Knight, professional basketball player, has visual/ spatial processing issues.
All career opportunities mentioned above have been in general without taking consideration into specific special needs, location and particular individual and thus before pursuing any job, you must look over your strength, job conditions. Preferred would be to take the advice of your family as well as consult any doctor if desired to check your medical fitness as well as look over other career opportunities too in addition to mentioned above.
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