It’s about so much more than the daily grind: the right job can be a source of tremendous satisfaction and personal fulfillment. 

Members of the I/DD community deserve the opportunity to pursue rewarding, enjoyable work. If you’re considering joining the workforce, you should know that holding a job offers many potential benefits like: 

Unsure of how to get started? Here are four tips for starting your search. 

idd job search with disability1. Know your strengths.

Planning your job search around your strengths will help ensure that you find work that is satisfying and rewarding. 

Think about your best qualities: are you hardworking and reliable? Friendly? Artistic? Organized? 

What challenges are you facing? What kind of work would you feel comfortable doing, and what makes you happy?

Whether you seek a job by asking friends and family or through your state’s I/DD Employment Services, it’s important to look for work that suits your skills and personality. 

Your resume is your chance to summarize your unique skills and work experience so that potential employers can get to know you better. Writing or updating your resume can be intimidating, so take advantage of resources to help you get started. Successful resumes are clear with good spelling and grammar, so it’s a good idea to have someone your trust read your resume and give you feedback. 

2. Sharpen your skillsidd job search office wheelchair

Because many jobs look for prior experience in a relevant field, it may be a good idea to build up your resume by volunteering. 

Volunteer work can allow members of the I/DD community opportunities to try out different varieties of work without the pressure of traditional employment. Giving back to your community feels great, and you may also discover brand-new talents and interests in the process.

Do you enjoy being a student? Organizations like the United Disabilities Services Foundation (UDSF) connect individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the training they need to succeed in their field of choice. 

idd job search restaurant3. Practice makes perfect.

Individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and neurodivergence often feel more comfortable in novel situations when they know what to expect. 

Research frequently asked interview questions and practice your answers. Think about what you want to tell your interviewer about your interest in the job and the skills that you can bring. Role-playing the interview with a trusted friend or family member can help you feel relaxed and prepared for the real thing.  

4. Explore your resources.

Look to your community for help with refining your skills and identifying employment opportunities. 

Local programs like Everybody Works NC exist to connect I/DD job seekers with potential employers. These services also help community members connect with each other to share their insights and experiences. 

Take advantage of resources tailor-made for I/DD job candidates, and explore how you can turn your unique skillset into a rewarding career. 

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, it’s time to plan some summer fun. 

Families with sensory-sensitive children may have specific criteria for safe, enjoyable activities, but their options are far from limited. Here are six of our favorite ways to laugh, learn, and explore together this summer. 

sensory friendly art1. Plan a sensory-friendly art project.

Unlike so many activities, there is no right or wrong way to approach arts and crafts. Whether your sensory-sensitive child is a creative soul or a reluctant artist, art is a fantastic way to encourage open self-expression. 

Consider laying down plastic table cloths to create an “art zone” where messes aren’t a concern. If textures are an issue, try to offer a variety of craft supplies that your child will find pleasant to the touch, like fabrics, construction paper, pom poms, and pipe cleaners. Let your child choose how to interact with the materials, and let the creativity flow. 

2. Take a yoga break.

Mindful movement is a great way to release pent-up energy without the sensory challenges of team sports. 

Yoga has been shown to have multiple benefits for children with autism and other sensory differences. With practice, yoga can relieve anxiety, improve emotional communication, and increase body awareness. 

Head online for free resources that can help you make sensory-friendly yoga part of your summer routine. 

3. Go for a nature walk.

Completing a hike comes with a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Whether your family loves long walks or shorter ones, spending time in nature is great for the body and mind. 

Make your nature walk sensory-friendly by choosing a quiet, familiar trail with lots of opportunities to stop and appreciate your surroundings. Consider visiting at off-peak hours, both to avoid crowds as well as harsh sunlight or high temperatures. 

Don’t worry about mileage — it’s about the memories you make, not the ground you cover. 

4. Try equine therapy.sensory friendly equine therapy

Some children who tend to find their peers overwhelming are quick to form powerful bonds with animals. 

Equine therapy for autism and sensory-processing disorders uses horseback riding to boost kids’ confidence, calm their anxieties, and improve communication skills. Research shows that the relationships children form with horses contribute to long-term improvements in emotional health.  Explore local equine therapy day camps to find programs tailored to your child’s individual needs. 

If your child is an animal enthusiast in general, reach out to your local animal rescue. Many shelters have kid-friendly opportunities to help animals in need while building self-esteem. 

5. Pack a picnic.

There’s a reason people say that food just tastes better outside. Add a new dimension to lunchtime this summer by taking your meal outdoors – even if it’s in your own back yard. 

Plan a sensory-friendly picnic by choosing a shady spot. Lay down a soft blanket to avoid any itchy sensations from the grass, and choose mild foods that you know your child will enjoy. 

6. Seek out local sensory-friendly events.

Tap into your local community to stay up-to-date on upcoming events geared towards families with sensory-sensitive children

Many local amusement parks, movie theaters, and attractions have designated sensory-friendly events that allow all children to join in on the fun by removing aspects of the experience that may be overwhelming. 

If you notice sensory-friendly options that are missing in your area, harness the power of your I/DD community and connect with other families who share your goals. 

With the recent pandemic, many of us have experienced some impact on our mental health.   We have faced loss, uncertainty and disruption of our normal routine. To make matters worse, we have not had access to our usual support systems and loved ones.  This has been a challenge and although the vaccine and decrease in COVID cases is a welcome relief, the mental health effects are still lingering. 

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not immune to these same mental health impacts.  They experience the same range of mental health symptoms that the rest of the general population does. However, the resources for people with these dual needs are often scarce and difficult to access.

We recently came across a resource that we want to share with you.  The Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities National Training Center is an organization that works to improve mental health services and support for people with developmental disabilities by providing access to training and other resources. They have free easy-to-read online learning modules for people with IDD, their families and caregivers as well as evidence-based, trauma-informed, modules and resources for mental health clinicians. 

On their website, you can also access blogs, podcasts and storytelling videos of people with IDD sharing their experiences with mental health conditions. Check out their website here:  https://www.mhddcenter.org/learn-now/

 

Melinda Frederick, MS, LCMHC, NCC

Sr. Director of Quality Management

Community Based Care

For Immediate Release

CBC Expanding into Virginia as They Announce Merger with F.A.C.E.S. Community Services

F.A.C.E.S. Community Services, LLC. is pleased to announce that they have joined the CBC family of providers.  F.A.C.E.S. was founded by Albert and Adrianne Sears in Chesapeake, Virginia, in 2009, with the goal of providing services that are designed to help each individual develop independent skills in a variety of home and community based settings. Albert Sears stated, “We are pleased to announce that we are joining the CBC family.  CBC is exactly what F.A.C.E.S. has been seeking to further the development of the individuals we serve.  Our values and goals are aligned perfectly.  We are not only pleased and excited to be joining CBC, we are extremely proud to be a part of their family!”

 

Mike Kotzen, CBC President/CEO, said, “We are thrilled to welcome F.A.C.E.S. to the CBC family of providers.  Albert and Adrianne have built an incredible legacy of service in the Chesapeake area and we look forward to building upon that foundation for the benefit of the individuals we serve, their families and our employees.”

 

Gene Rodgers, CBC Executive Vice President, added, “As we have gotten to know the Sears family, we have been impressed by who they are as people and as the leaders of F.A.C.E.S. They were the perfect partners for the work we do serving individuals and their families, while also working to match them with the most talented, well-trained, compassionate caregivers anywhere. The Sears are and always will be a part of the CBC family.”

To learn more about F.A.C.E.S., please visit http://www.facescommunityservices.com/.

 

About Community Based Care

 

The CBC family of providers supports people with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities and Home Care/Companion Care needs, and their families, in order to achieve their fullest potential, by matching them with the most talented, well-trained, compassionate caregivers anywhere.  CBC serves over 2,500 clients in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia and employs over 3,500 talented and committed caregivers. CBC providers offer state of the art training, benefits, 401k and electronic health records to best serve our employees and clients.

 

For more information on CBC and its family of providers, please visit www.cbcare.com.  For more information on mergers & acquisitions please contact Gene Rodgers, CBC Executive Vice President, at grodgers@cbcare.com.

About the N.C. Innovations Waiver and What’s New

The Home and Community Based Services Waiver for North Carolina is called “NC Innovations”.  The waiver is, essentially, an agreement between the state of North Carolina and the federal government — Medicaid or “CMS”, specifically — about the service offerings available to persons with disabilities on the waiver. Currently, there are about 13,000 people in NC on the waiver, and approximately the same number on the Registry of Unmet Needs — the waiting list. 

If you or your family member is currently on the waiver, you should know that the waiver is updated periodically, and when it is, it is posted for public comment. It so happens, that we are in a public comment period right now.  You can read the proposed changes to the NC Innovations waiver by visiting this website and the actual proposed policies can be found here (warning — large file). 

Our provider leadership has reviewed the proposed waiver changes, and, in case you’re interested, is providing the following feedback to the state. 

First, a few positives…

Throughout the new waiver, there is a heightened emphasis on competitive employment for people with disabilities.  This is great!  NC is a “work first” state, meaning that people who want to work should be supported to seek jobs that pay at least minimum wage.  Work and meaningful daily activities are key quality of life outcomes for everyone — you, me, our staff, and the people we serve.  Having more opportunities to support people towards competitive employment in Day Supports, Supported Employment, Community Networking, and other services, is good for people with disabilities. 

Another positive is enhanced support for individuals with disabilities to live more independently.  Community Navigation could include tenancy supports, which would provide assistance in seeking affordable housing — a major barrier to Supported Living services.  The Supported Living definition itself does not change much, but, there is a lot of support required before Supported Living can even begin, and these additions could help meet that need. 

On the downside…

Family members (non-parents) would not be allowed to support persons on the waiver under 18 living in the same home.  Outside of the current COVID-19 easing of restrictions, this has been the case for parents.  We do, however, have some siblings who are serving in this role, and there is no grandfathering provision in the waiver to allow this to continue. 

Also, while the Individual Budgets section (Appendix F) has been amended to clarify that a person’s individual budget should not be tied to his/her Supports Intensity Scale score, we think the language could be stronger.  The budget is not a cap on annual spending; it is only a guideline. 

 

Overall…

There is a lot to like about the direction the state is going with the NC Innovations Waiver.  There is an increasing emphasis on meaningful daily activity, employment, independent living — and broadening the availability and flexibility of supports to achieve these outcomes, including through expanded telehealth options. 

NC has been sincere in its outreach for individual and family member input, so I would encourage you to review the proposed changes and share your perspectives. 

Together, we make the difference — 

Richard Edwards

CBC Regional Vice President, North Carolina

 

 

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