I have been a part of the special needs community for over forty years, raising a daughter with Down Syndrome, teaching classes, and running a day program, and I have seen a lot of changes in those years. Our daughter was born in 1975, the same year that the Education of All Handicapped Children Act guaranteed her a “free and appropriate” education.
Education has improved, medical care has also improved, and awareness is much better. But, unfortunately, housing and employment are two areas with little or no improvement.
It troubles me that there are so few options for employment of people with special needs. At Dutton Farm we have helped dozens of people find jobs, individually or with a group, with job coaches or independently. Personally, I feel that churches should set the example in their community for hiring people on the margins of society. We have placed people in jobs in our local churches with great success.
Having a job, something productive to do every day, is as important for people with disabilities as it is for everyone. Typically, they are hard workers, punctual and enthusiastic. There are character qualities they possess that far outweigh efficiency and speed. And if you ask any of our employed Farmers what their favorite thing is about their job, they will tell you with their sweet honesty “the money!”