Raising Expectations

Young woman working with job coach

(From TennesseeWorks)

Work can be an important part of living well as an adult. The benefits of working are more than just financial. A good job promotes relationships, enhances independence, fosters feelings of accomplishment, and builds community connections. Yet, far too many people still do not see competitive work as a realistic option for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Raising expectations involves helping people catch and pursue a vision that everyone has strengths and talents to share in the workplace. It means setting and working toward employment as a post-school goal. And it means holding the conviction that with the right preparation and supports, every young person assuming competitive employment can find success on the job.

In every corner of our state, our expectation should be that young people with IDD will be supported to find and keep a good job in their community. Rather than asking Can this particular person work?, we should be asking, Where do you want to work?

Why Is Raising Expectations Important?

When you communicate high expectations about working from an early age, children and youth are apt to follow your lead. And so will others. Unfortunately, unemployment and underemployment are the status quo for people with IDD in our state. It takes parents, educators, providers and others expecting and demanding something different if outcomes are going to change. For example, research suggests the expectations of parents and educators can have a substantial impact on the employment outcomes of young people with IDD. Youth with IDD whose parents expected them to hold a job after graduation were 5 times more likely to have paid employment in their community shortly after graduation than youth whose parents did not hold similar expectations (Carter, Austin, & Trainor, 2012). Similarly, students whose teachers expected them to work during the upcoming summer were 15 times more likely to work than students whose teachers did not hold such expectations (Carter, Ditchman, et al., 2010). High expectations set the stage for competitive employment in adulthood.

How Can You Promote High Expectations?

Invest time talking with children and youth about what they want to do when they get older. Such conversations communicate that work is important and helps shape young people’s views about their future roles. Give children and youth responsibilities that build character and teach skills that will later translate into the workplace. At home, this might involve requiring children to do chores or assume other household responsibilities. At school, this might involve encouraging participation in clubs or other extracurricular activities.

Connecting young people to volunteer positions, service opportunities, internships, and part-time jobs are also wonderful ways to build expectations, as well as teach soft skills like timeliness, appropriate dress, communication, and social graces.  As young people participate in various school and community activities, they catch a glimpse of roles and responsibilities they enjoy (and prefer to avoid).

Where Can I Learn More About Raising Expectations?

The following links include guides, stories, and other resources related to fostering high expectations for employment among young people with intellectual disabilities:

Pacer Job Creator video image

A #JobCreators Family Interview – The Perez family

A #JobCreators Family Interview – The Perez family [link] The Perez Family discusses the powerful impact self-employment has had on ...
Read More
Employment files Youtube series image

Kentucky Employment Files Video Series

Kentucky Employment Files Video Series [link] The Kentucky Employment files are developed and produced through a partnership with the Council ...
Read More
Meet Brandon Ziemke video image

Meet Brandon Ziemke video

Meet Brandon Ziemke [link] In the Meet Brandon Ziemke video, a college student, employee and young man with an intellectual ...
Read More
Wilson family video image

Wilson Family: Holding High Expectations video

Wilson Family: Holding High Expectations video [link] Youth with disabilities discuss how the decisions to disclose their disabilities have affected ...
Read More
Pacer website image

High Expectations: A Most Valuable Tool — Pacer

High Expectations: A Most Valuable Tool — Pacer [link] Highlights the importance of parents having high expectations for their youth ...
Read More
Strategies for Post-School Success webpage image

Promoting High Expectations for Post-School Success by Family Members: A “To Do” List for Professionals — Pacer

Promoting High Expectations for Post-School Success by Family Members: A “To Do” List for Professionals — Pacer [link] Parent advocates ...
Read More
On the Job graphic

On the Job: Stories from Youth with Disabilities

On the Job: Stories from Youth with Disabilities [link] Stories about the jobs of people with disabilities from the Waisman ...
Read More
Image of Impact Newsletter

Impact: Feature Issue on Supporting New Career Paths for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Impact: Feature Issue on Supporting New Career Paths for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities [link] Newsletter from the Institute ...
Read More

Ten Ways to Foster High Expectations for Work