Down’s syndrome is a genetic disorder where a baby is born with an extra chromosome. This happens by chance and usually isn’t inherited from the parents. It results from a change to the egg or sperm and has no correlation with anyone’s actions before or during pregnancy.
Down’s syndrome has some physical effects and causes different levels of learning disabilities. Like everybody, all people with down’s syndrome are different, and hence they may require different types and levels of support. Some may lead reasonably independent lives with work and relationships, whereas others may need individual care.
The NHS notes the importance of remembering that, as with everyone, people with down’s syndrome have personalities, likes and dislikes and things that make them who they are. While it may affect cognitive ability, it doesn’t impact their emotional capacity. Rather, people with down’s syndrome are frequently considered loving and sensitive.
Many people with down’s syndrome want to work in some capacity. Whether this is voluntary or paid work, part-time, full-time or just a few hours a week, working allows for a sense of independence. Employment can be sociable and rewarding and develops valuable life skills.
There are more and more options available for people with down’s syndrome who want to work. The first place to visit to find help is the Down’s Syndrome Association, as they have plenty of advice and guidance on how to find suitable work in your area.
The Down’s Syndrome Association has a specific work scheme called Workfit, which is aimed at both employers and employees to help people with down’s syndrome to find work.
- WorkFit aims to train employers about the ‘learning profile’ of people with down’s syndrome employers understand how to offer the proper support at work. They provide learning opportunities for employers to know how and why they should take on staff with down’s syndrome.
- They find the right work opportunities for individuals with down’s syndrome and continuously support you every step of the way. They are committed to finding a variety of positions which suit the different needs of different people, recognising that no person is the same.
- WorkFit describes their service of supported employment, not an ‘end destination’ but a helpful ‘stepping stone’ so that you can find a rewarding career path.
- Straightforward employment isn’t right for everybody; they also offer plenty of advice on volunteering, apprenticeships and internships.
- Their main goal is to build the experience and confidence of people with down’s syndrome by helping you into the workplace.
What can WorkFit offer employers?
- They can assess your workplace to see how suitable it would be for an employee with down’s syndrome and identify anything which would be a disability issue.
- They offer consultations to work out what roles you could offer, which would best suit the potential employees. Additionally, they recommend any possible reasonable adjustments to make your workplace more down’s syndrome friendly.
- Bespoke training can help with specific strategies for employment and educate you and your staff to have a better awareness of the realities of living and working with down’s syndrome.
For more information about working with a disability such as down’s syndrome, visit the government or NHS websites.