My son, Daniel, is now 29. He has been in the workforce for 9 years, transitioning his last year in high school. We chose a workshop for him based on his needs and skills, and at one point we decided to expand his work environment (due somewhat to a push from the state) to include the enclave (the business that provides the piecework he does) 6 miles south of us. So, every Monday morning he worked there; but after several months, there were signs that things were not going well. I would say, "Daniel, you get to go to P**** this morning!" But, he yelled, "No!" back at me on several occasions. It was just a couple more weeks before we had a meeting, and I was told that he just wasn't producing work at the enclave as well as he did at the workshop (same work!). It was brought to my attention that the enclave was really segregating the workers, anyway; but I felt the need to drop this programming stemmed more from a supervisor that didn't understand his abilities & disabilities and was frustrating him--even making him shut down.
Working with someone with severe disabilities is a whole world in and of itself. Daniel's academic skills are 1st Grade and below. His social skills are basic. He doesn't like idle chatter; in fact, he doesn't like to talk much at all. He does, however, like to be around people, is very aware, and likes to be active. There are many pieces to learn about this population as well as a sensitivity level that must be understood. Our goal should be that someone works to the best of their ability, is challenged fairly, and is happy doing what they are doing. THEY should be the barometer, not the idea of what success should be.
So, we returned full-time to the workshop making sure his days were diversified: using community facilities (swimming at the pool, stopping at the cafe, & volunteering), working with service dogs in training one morning a week, sweeping at a local utility company, and visiting other community places like the cheese store & an animal therapy center. These are activities he does with his coworkers; they are practical and enjoyable and add to his life experiences. He goes to work every day without complaint and says he worked hard when he returns. He is challenged without being frustrated. He demonstrates independence while having someone oversee him and redirect him when needed. HIS needs are being met; we know based on how he performs.
His experience would be enhanced with a facility that is more modern and less disjointed, but that is another piece all together.
Special Education Teacher