The wonder of work: a grumbling and disenchanted workforce can learn a lot about gratitude from those who treasure any job they can get--individuals with mental retardation and other severe developmental disabilities.

Author:Arnold, Teri S.
Position:Life in America - Work environment and employee's health

IS YOUR PLACE of business driving you crazy? Do your coworkers get on your nerves? There is no question that being on the job can test your patience by lifting you up, tearing you down, or sometimes completely ignoring your contributions. It can be a place of passion and drive or a place of frustrated and burnt out clock-watchers. Yet, there are many, many people with mental retardation and other severe disabilities who have a refreshingly honest point of view about work and how attitudes on the job can greatly affect happiness and job satisfaction. We all can learn a lot from how they choose to see the world.

Be grateful that you have a job to go to every morning. Some 20,300,000 people with severe developmental disabilities are unemployed in this country, and consequently often suffer mentally and physically, while digressing developmentally. Those who have a job, however, come into work with big smiles on their faces. They want to come to work on the weekends, holidays, and even during inclement weather because they know how it dramatically affects theft lives for the better. Regardless of who you are, having a job and a purpose in life is essential to self-esteem, independence, and overall well-being. It might be difficult to drag yourself out of bed on Monday morning, but without a job to go to, your quality of life would suffer immensely.

Each and every job--no matter how small it may appear--is important. Whether you have difficulty communicating, moving, hearing, seeing, or comprehending, every job for a person with a severe disability is important. To someone without a disability, putting a cable into a bag can seem monotonous and boring. It may appear to be just a very minute part of a larger contractual obligation with an outside company but, to the individuals performing the task, it is their one chance to be like everyone else. When they are on the job, they are not people with mental retardation; they are coworkers and an essential part of a team with goals and objectives. Status and titles have no meaning here because everyone is a vital cog in the company's success.

Greet your coworkers with a kind word or smile when you pass them in the hallway or when they enter your workspace. In a world that increasingly is cut off from people and emotions, simple gestures that display kindness and openness are harder and harder to find. Walking onto the work floor is an instant mood-lifter. Everyone who visits is welcomed with open arms...

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