Eric Benninghoff at Dagsavisen (Norway):
Work is about more than a salary. With the proper supports, it can provide a path to socialization, community participation, and self-realization. When I asked a young man with autism in Oslo why he likes his job, he told me: “I like feeling useful, and by working here I feel that I am useful.” I get a similar answer nearly every time I ask a young person with a disability that question.
But as it stands now, many adults with ID and developmental disabilities who are capable of working are missing out on this sense of purpose and inclusion. That comes at a cost to the individual’s health and the society’s economy.
As part of my project in Norway, I tell the stories of those who have beaten the odds and found work, as well as organizations, like Helt Med, that have built models to help them do so. I’ve visited workers across the country at nursing homes, fire stations, government offices, grocery stores, and horse-riding schools. Face to face, I have seen their passion for work, desire to contribute, and ability to excel when properly supported.
I just hope that others in Norway, the U.S., and beyond, will start to see this too. After all, you can’t break a vicious circle of low expectations, without first seeing potential.