Employment For People With Down’s Syndrome

A nation-wide study that was taken out in the United States in 2015 showed that over half of the adults with Down's syndrome they surveyed were employed at a paid job. Others were active volunteers, and a small number of the responders were even self-employed.

Finding A Suitable Job

Disabled adults have options when it comes to the kind of employment they might want to pursue, and finding the right one may need to involve the use of social services to connect them with employers who are informed and motivated to maintaining workplaces that are free of discrimination and help prospective workers meet their full potential regardless of disability. A good environment with someone who has Down's syndrome to work in should have several elements. First, it should be structured and provide a routine, as well as give a heads up when that routine is going to change. It should also utilize concrete goals and specific deadlines for an employee with Down's syndrome to work towards, though flexibility is also an important trait from a potential workplace. Finally, the employer should encourage a friendly atmosphere and education among its employees to promote tolerance and inclusion so that a person with disabilities would be able to fit in and feel accepted among their coworkers.

Some of the specific areas worked in by those who answered the aforementioned survey on working with Down's syndrome were restaurants, office settings, grocery stores, and warehouses.

Types of Jobs

Someone with Down's syndrome might find that their talents and needs aren't best met by a traditional job, and want to learn about what other options they might have. There are a few different kinds of work situations someone with a disability might find themselves looking into.

Competitive employment is what most people think of when they think about “working.” This kind of job is one that many people with Down's syndrome are capable of doing, especially with extra support on their side as they ease into their new role and routine. Supported employment is also possible to attain with the assistance of social services and helps lighten the load for those who face more challenges and have significant, long-term needs as they go about finding and maintaining a job.

Sheltered employment allows people to do subcontract work on a daily basis where they are paid under specific regulations for disabled people, below minimum wage. The workshops that this kind of work takes place in tend to be highly segregated environments, that is, someone's co-workers would be other disabled people for the most part and there has been criticism on this lack of integration as well as the pay scale.

Unpaid Experiences

If an individual can't find or hold down a job, and has financial support for a while, there are of course other activities and opportunities that they might want to look at to fill their time in a similar way as a job that would make them look more valuable as a prospective employee if they wish to continue a job search in the future.

Volunteer work is a popular option for those who need experience and job skills even among non-disabled people and it can definitely help provide a rewarding, structured routine in someone's week. It also helps to create more of a social life for someone with Down's syndrome, as volunteering in general is a good way to make friends and network with the people in your community. These new social connections can improve quality of life deeply, not just because having friends is better for people's mental health, but also through the opportunities and resources someone might receive or come into contact with as a result of meeting new people.

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Last Reviewed:
December 20, 2016
Last Updated:
May 25, 2017
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