What Are Developmental Disabilities?
The U.S. Department o Health and Human Services denesdevelopmental disabilities as severe, lielong disabilities that areattributable to a mental and/or physical impairment, maniestedbeore age 22 years, and likely to continue indenitely. Theseimpairments result in substantial unctional limitations inthree or more areas o major lie activity (Administration onDevelopmental Disabilities, 2009).In the United States, more than 40% o individuals withdisabilities who are capable o working with accommodations areunemployed, in spite o legislative requirements or reasonableaccommodations (Dick & Golshani, 2008). Occupational therapypractitioners can acilitate work opportunities in varied settings such as individual competitive work, supportedemployment at sheltered workshops, enclaves, mobile work crews, and transitional employment or theseindividuals. With an appropriate job match, those with developmental disabilities can fourish in the open jobmarket or explore supported work options.
The Role of OT in Facilitating Work Skills
Occupational therapy practitioners assess demands o the workplace and evaluate an individual’s abilities as wellas barriers to task completion specic to a setting. Many occupational therapists are trained to optimize workerperormance and minimize the risk o repetitive strain injury by tting jobs to workers. For a successul job match,an occupational therapist trained in ergonomics can evaluate the ollowing three primary components o the job(s)in question:
Physical Demands: Reers to postural/positional requirements (i.e., standing, squatting); external orcerequirements (i.e., liting weight, grip and pinch orces); limb and dexterity requirements; physiologicalrequirements; duration o the work shit; and amount o time that activities are perormed.
Cognitive Demands: Includes such components o thinking as memory, ability to learn, problem solvingcapabilities, and intuitive thought processes.
Behavioral/Emotional Demands: Reers to the accepted social processes and interactions that are required toperorm the job duties, and includes emotional regulation, communication, monitoring saety o sel and/or others, initiative (the ability to sel-start), and management o others.
Providing Supports in the Workplace
As persons with developmental disabilities explore their work options, occupational therapy practitioners assistby completing prevocational or vocational assessments, job analyses, and unctional capacity evaluations. To besuccessul, the individual is matched to a job classication or which he or she has the physical, cognitive, andbehavioral/emotional capability to perorm across all demand levels. In addition, adaptive equipment or techniquescan be used with many job unctions to accommodate perormance by someone with a disability. To prepare highschool students or employment, occupational therapy practitioners may work as part o a multidisciplinary teamwithin school work-study programs or community-based programs.
The Role of Occupational Therapy in
Facilitating Employment of Individuals WithDevelopmental Disabilities
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