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tumblr_ndyvqwykza1tubinno1_1280Whether you are just starting your job search or you have been in the workforce for years, finding employment opportunities can be a challenge if you are living with a neuromuscular disorder.

Looking for your first job

It can be difficult to break into the labour force and gain work experience, especially for youth with neuromuscular disorders. So how do you find the right opportunity?

Volunteering is a fantastic way to add skills and experience to your resume, and it gives you the opportunity to build a network and establish references that can help find you a job. Unlike work, volunteering can be flexible: many organizations are looking for volunteers, and you often can work with them to accommodate your schedule and needs. It may not be the most glamorous option out there, but volunteering is a great way to build experience, make a difference in your community, and have some fun!

What if you are not sure what you want to do? When in doubt, do something you enjoy: following your interest allows you to get more out of the experience and it will put you closer to getting paid to do something you like. You will also gain knowledge, experience and friends. There are many organizations out there that will help you figure out what you are good at and what you would like to do. If you aren’t sure where to begin, contact your local services staff at Muscular Dystrophy Canada—they can get the process started!

Adapting your career to life with a neuromuscular disorder

Of course, not everyone needs to gain experience and make contacts. Maybe you’ve already been gainfully employed: you have been paying bills, providing for your family and contributing to your household for many successful years—and then you are diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition.

You are going to have questions: what is a neuro…something condition?  How did I get this?  How can I get rid of it?  Eventually, those questions will extend to your career and to your family’s finances: can I still work? Do I need to sell my home?  Will I still be able to drive?

If you find yourself diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder, there are options. Employers can and may change the duties of your job or work hours to accommodate you and your diagnosis.  Some employers may invest in technology and equipment to keep you employed.

But what if your employer is unable to accommodate you? You will need to review your options. Be honest with yourself, and talk with your friends, family and employer. Review your current, extended and transferable skills. Are you eligible for retraining? Can you return to a post-secondary institution to learn new skills? Maybe you want to be self-employed and work as a consultant. Be sure to explore all of the possibilities.

There are programs and services available to individuals with disabilities to enter into the work force, so investigate what is available in your community. There are many sources of help and advice: the local government employment office, your occupational therapist/physiotherapist, your case manager, the Neil Squire Society, the March of Dimes, or your local Muscular Dystrophy Canada services staff. Take this opportunity to evaluate your abilities and skills, and be patient and positive—you may find employment in an area that you never considered!

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2 Responses

  1. M. MacDonald says:

    I am a person with a severe neuromuscular disorder. I’ve done all the things mentioned in this article. It is not as simple as this article presents to find a full-time job. Also, it is my experience that employment equity plans where the applicant is invited to self-identify as a person with a disability make no difference at all. Sorry to be negative but this is reality. It would be helpful too to let go of the myth that all persons with neuromuscular illnesses have a large supportive families.

    • musclecanada says:

      We recognize employment opportunities are not easily available for those with a disability and often looking for employment is exhausting and tiring. All of us come from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and may have a visible or invisible disability. Our support system can be large or small depending on our personal comfort level and may include: family members, friends, school mates, colleagues and various community support groups. Those with disabilities are finding gainful and meaningful employment and it can take time. We encourage you to go to your local job search group (Neil Squire Society, Government of Canada, etc.), talk about your desire for employment and the type of employment you prefer, remember be realistic about your opportunities and skills.

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