October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. What is this? This is to make sure that companies hire people who have disabilities. People aren’t being hired as a result of companies being scared. This is because they have a lot of misconceptions.

3 Misconceptions

  1. Lazy

One of the misconceptions that companies have is that people with disabilities are lazy. This is not true at all. People with disabilities are willing to work hard. I knew several coworkers with a disability and they worked really hard.

  1. Always Late

Another misconception is that people with disabilities usually are late for work or call in late often. This is also wrong. Since people with disabilities usually take public transportation, they might be late because the bus or taxi might be late.

  1. Slow

People with disabilities seem to be slow in getting things done, which is the last misconception. This might be true for some people with disabilities, but some people who do not have disabilities might be slow too. This is a generalization that simply is not a fair statement.

3 Advantages

  1. Expand Your Talent Pool

Sometimes it seems almost impossible to find qualified candidates for a position. But if you start recruiting individuals with disabilities, it expands your talent pool so that you can find better candidates.

And according to Work without Limits, a network that aims to increase employment among individuals with disabilities, “Individuals with disabilities represent an untapped candidate pool for businesses. Recruiting and retaining people with disabilities are one approach to counter the effects of the aging and shrinking workforce.”

  1. Increase Your Loyal Workforce

People with disabilities want to work, and when they get the opportunity, they stay loyal. And according to a 2007 study from DePaul University, people with disabilities perform just the same as people without disabilities:

■Participants with disabilities from the retail and hospitality sectors stayed on the job longer than participants without disabilities.

■Across all sectors, participants with disabilities had fewer scheduled absences than those without disabilities.

■Retail participants with disabilities had fewer days of unscheduled absences than those without disabilities.

■Regardless of sector, participants with and without disabilities had nearly identical job performance ratings.

■The numbers of worker’s compensation claims of retail participants with and without disabilities were equivalent.

  1. Diversity is good for Business

As we’ve discussed before, diversity is good for business. When people who have diverse experiences work together, they can come up with creative solutions for problems because they have a better understanding of your customer base.

As an added bonus, people with disabilities have additional insight into your customers who have disabilities, which can help you tailor your products better. This is especially important in untapped markets where people with disabilities have not been focused on.

Plus, EARN reports, “Customers with disabilities and their families, friends and associates represent a trillion dollar market segment. They, like other market segments, purchase products and services from companies that best meet their needs. A large number of Americans also say they prefer to patronize businesses that hire people with disabilities.”


National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month-September

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Because it is “back to school” month for most children, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America wants the public to reflect on the children and the adults whose lives, education and careers have been affected by this disease. The observance originated in 1975 when the Association and its Member Organizations began conducting month long events to call attention to sickle cell disease and the need to address the problem at national and local levels.

The Association and its Member Organizations sponsored public educational programs and fund raising activities during the month. State and local government officials issue Sickle Cell Month proclamations and are introduced to local poster children.

The tradition of selecting a National Poster Child from local candidates began in 1976 with President Gerald Ford greeting the first winner at the White House. Presidents’ Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton have also greeted the National Poster Child.

The effort to have Sickle Cell Month officially recognized at all levels succeeded in 1983 when the House of Representatives unanimously passed the resolution, introduced by the Congressional Black Caucus, asking President Reagan to designate September as “National Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness Month.” The President signed the resolution in August of 1983.

For educational materials to display during Sickle Cell Awareness Month call (800) 421-8453 or e-mail your request to scdaa@sicklecelldisease.org. For information on activities sponsored by your local SCDAA Member Organization.

October National Disability Employment Month

In celebrating October National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Dakota Center for Independent Living would like to acknowledge all of the businesses in our communities who employ people with disabilities. This year’s theme, Inclusion Drives Innovation, spreads an important message that a strong work force is one that is inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals.

August 2017 Disability Employment Statistics

20.5 % of the labor force are people with disabilities, while 68.8% are people without disabilities.

The unemployment rate was 8.4% for people with disabilities and 4.4% for people without disabilities

Back to School Time Already

Hard to believe summer is almost over and kids are just about ready to head back to school. If your kids are anything like mine, some are excited to go back and others not so much.

I have one child starting a new school this again this year and I have tried throughout this summer to make it something exciting and a good thing for him. He is actually excited for this school year which I am thankful for. I have been trying to get him on a school schedule for his sleep but as we all know that is so difficult when it is still so light outside at 8 p.m. We also found out that his school will be giving all the kids free breakfast and lunches this year. That is such a big help to us. He is going to the open house and can not wait to meet his teacher and see the school and his classroom. With his dad being gone right now it just makes me happy to see how much he has grown and he has learned to handle things even if he does not necessarily like that he has to do them. He has his backpack all ready to go and even has his outfit picked out for the first day.

Then there is his brother who should be excited this year since it is his last year of high school!!! He has never been a morning person though so school is always tough. It is hard to believe this is his last year. I still remember taking him to kindergarten. You wonder where the time goes. Since he is not excited at all he still has not bought anything for school. No backpack, no pencils, and not even a notebook. I think he likes to drive his mother crazy waiting because I like to organized and have everything done and ready. He waits until the last minute or after and then maybe he will do it. Some things will never change.

This school year is just different somehow for me. I am glad they are going back to school and that at least one of them is excited but yet it is a little sad this year too because another child is growing up and as much as you want them to do that it is hard to let them go. I hope they have a great year!!!

SMA Awareness Month

Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month is a public health and awareness campaign focusing on the leading genetic cause of the death in babies younger than two years of age. It is for increasing awareness of spinal muscular atrophy including the availability of carrier screening. Spinal muscular atrophy affects all types of individuals from different ethnic predilections. In many cases, there is no prior history of the disease and the newly born baby with SMA appears normal and healthy. However, over time, the lack of muscular development becomes debilitating. On the other hand, intellectual development is normal. The muscle weakness usually leads to respiratory failure and general failure to thrive.

There are 3 types of SMA with different degrees of severity. The problem is that there are only limited treatment options available. About 1 in 40 individuals are not aware that they are carriers of the recessive gene for SMA so genetic screening for couples who want to get pregnant is the best option for preventing it.

The American College of Medical Genetics believes that all couples who are planning a pregnancy should be offered SMA carrier testing. This is in order to give families enough time to make informed decisions when it comes to reproduction. However, the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology still has not made a formal statement in connection to SMA screening. Thus, there are varying practices among physicians with some offering it and others not offering it.

The purpose of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month is to raise awareness of the deadly disease. This includes informing the public that SMA genetic screening is available and this is the best prevention. It is also for strengthening the fight against the deadly disease and supporting research for the purpose of finding a cure. It is also a time for supporting individuals suffering from the disease along with their families who suffer with them.

According to parents of children with SMA, the experience changes them forever. Their strength and courage is continuously tested out of love and devotion to their children. However, emotional and financial stress cannot be avoided. In fact, the cost of caring for a child with SMA is in between $260,000 to $3 million. This points to the importance of knowing your risks ahead of time by undergoing SMA screening before you get pregnant. For Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month, think about your family and friends who are planning to start a family and give them a reminder to asking their doctors about SMA screening. More importantly, to honor of those who have suffered because of SMA, help spread the word.


Walter’s Success Story

On a cool September day Walter entered into DCIL, homeless. He had been referred to us by Social Security for our Representative Payee Services.  Walter had been living at Ruth Meier’s Drop in Center and was looking for housing. He had no transportation.  This once very hardworking, intelligent man was now walking a different road in life; an unexpected road caused by some disabilities he had acquired.

One of the first services he received from DCIL was assistance with filling out a Transit application.

Walter, a pleasant, single man, stated that he was motivated to acquire housing and a job. He chose to be a consumer at DCIL and agreed to work towards the goals that he would set for himself.

In the course of the 8 years that he was a consumer at DCIL, of the 16 goals that Walter set for himself, he completed all of them very successfully. Community based living, transportation, personal resource management, self-advocacy, self-care and learning new technology were a few of the goals he had set and he was always willing to work diligently towards completing those goals. Walter has a strong work ethic and started his independence by working for Command Center. There were struggles, there were challenges, and Walter worked diligently to overcome those by self-determination.  Walters’s successes were many, but he understood that this was all a process.  As he grew to become more and more independent, he always wanted to work as much as possible according the rules set up by SSI.

He was able to move into the Lewis and Clark Building in Mandan where he lived for 8 years as he was rebuilding his life. He was always very grateful for the assistance.  He was determined.  He received assistance from West Central Human Services in Bismarck and Community Action helped him with Shelter Plus Care.

His advocate at DCIL wondered about his family. Walter stated he had a sister residing in Hollywood, CA. The advocate located her on Social Media and after 10 years, Walter was reunited with his sister, elderly mother and family.

While he was in ND, thanks to Medicaid Benefits, he was able to communicate his physical impairments and receive the medical help that he needed, including getting on a vitamin regiment. While enjoying the newfound health, being determined, he gave up smoking.

Through weekly communication with his sister, he has decided to move to Ohio and be there for his family.

Walter, always the optimist, once stated when asked what it felt like to be homeless, “How can I be homeless, when I have the sky above me, and the earth below me?” While visiting with Walter the week before he moved, we asked him, “Where do you see your life going from here?  What goals do you have before you?”  Walter stated, “I’ve done it before, I’ve done it before, I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again.”  Walter, good luck with the rest of your journey we call life.

Always Something New

It seems like when you have any type of disability, just when you think you are getting everything under control and have it together something comes along just to knock you down again. At least that is how I feel right now.

I was doing better than I had in a long time actually. I was staying on my medication for my Bipolar Disorder and it is helping me a lot. I broke down and had to take some extra medication for my anxiety that I had not expected, but with the help of my very good doctor and therapist I realize that is okay. It helps me even the playing the field so I can be happy and live my life. There were still some big stressors going on in my life and we were adjusting my medication which at times made me feel like I had failed because I had been doing so well for so long. I had to realize that there will be times I will have to adjust it because your body gets used to it and it does not do the job it is supposed to do. I am not a failure for that. I would be failing if I did not adjust it and just tried to live with my life on the same dose or with no medication. I would eventually go back to the big ups and downs that had caused so many problems before. That is not what I want.

So in December  when I ended up in the hospital with blood clots in my lung I really just broke down and did not think I could take anymore. I was very scared I would not be here to see my kids grow up because I had lost two cousins to blood clot issues. I was very terrified. My youngest son would bring me a little toy every night when he came to visit so I would not get lonely and my other son just gave me a big hug and told me I better not die on him. I know they were just as scared as I was so I had to show them I was not leaving them yet. I was very lucky I went in when I did and I am still here today and I am so grateful that I am. But no one prepared me for what life would be like after that. I did not think it would affect me so much.

I can handle being on the blood thinners for the rest of my life if it means it will help keep me here on this earth. At first they made me tire out a lot easier and I bruise a lot easier but that is okay. I have felt really bad this summer for my kids. I love summer. I love the heat and the warm sun. Now though, when it is too warm or humid my legs hurt so bad that I start to feel sick and all I can do is try to cool down and put my legs up. It makes me feel like I am being a bad mom sometimes. Then it starts making me feel down and I do not do the things that I know help me to stay well mentally. Things like writing or even just coloring with my son. Watching him play in his little pool. As my legs have bothered me a lot this summer I have had to have the boys help me a little more and that depresses me. But they like being able to help mom and sometime they even ask if there is anything they can do even when I feel good.

So now they laugh at me when I say it is too hot in the house because I am the one who is usually too cold all the time. My youngest son has become my best walking buddy and really pushes me that way. I am trying to find positives out of all of this because it seems there is always something new happening just when I think I am getting control of my disabilities. I am starting to write again since I have lots of time when I have to rest my legs and I am getting to spend nice quality time with my kids. Hearing them laugh and fight is something I will not take for granted. I am doing my puzzle books I love and listening to my son read to my and teaching my other son to drive. I get to see my granddaughter through facetime which is wonderful. I may miss out on somethings but I have to look at the big picture. I can feel my children’s wonderful arms around my neck giving me hugs and hear them tell me they love me. I just have to take things one day at a time. To remember there are many beautiful things in this world if you just take the time to look. There are even beautiful things within our disabilities.