I teach at a school that caters for children with autism and/or mild intellectual disability.
In my five years on the job, I have seen many young people stuck at home upon graduation because they are not able to secure meaningful employment. It is an inevitable downhill road to a poor quality of life for them.
Schools try their best to prepare students for a productive and meaningful life, but the missing piece of the puzzle lies in the hands of the employers.
I applaud companies which employ people with special needs.
However, I have also come across employers who only pay lip service, are not prepared to make accommodations for our students, or offer our students jobs so they can enjoy special incentives but stop hiring them when the incentives are taken away.
I appreciate that employers have bottom-line considerations and that, in today's world, productivity is paramount. People with intellectual disabilities may not be as productive as other workers, but it is a matter of how flexible employers are willing to be.
Perhaps they can pay such workers according to their level of productivity, with a neutral party determining what that level is.
I urge employers to truly embrace diversity and inclusion.
People with intellectual disabilities can contribute to our society, too. What they need is not sympathy but opportunity.
|"Employment gives people with disabilities financial freedom and a sense of self-worth when they are a contributing member of the society." - SPD. Image from SPD.|
Lum Kwai Yeow (Ms)