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Employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities

Jan Tøssebro & Terje Olsen

I: Roger J. Stancliffe, Michael L. Wehmeyer, Karrie A. Shogren & Brian H. Abery Choice, Preference, and Disability. Promoting Self-Determination Across the Lifespan. Springer 2020

Forskningstema: Labour market integration

Forskere på Fafo: Terje Olsen

Employment opportunities for disabled people are limited, and the employment rates are far below that of the wider population. Employment rates are in particular low among people with intellectual disabilities. The vast majority is occupied at day activity centres or in segregated, sheltered settings with no pay or a low ‘encouragement’ pay. In Norway, the country from which the concrete facts of this chapter are drawn, people with intellectual disabilities appear to be on a ‘fast track’ to the disability pension, leading to low priority in the system for employment supports. This chapter addresses typical positive functions of work in the everyday life of adults and asks if the occupation of people with intellectual disability can fulfil such functions. This is partly dependent on to what extent it is perceived as work. Perceptions and priorities among individuals themselves appear to vary, and six different coping strategies with accompanying self-presentations are discussed. Some individuals find current work stigmatising, others enjoy the activities or the social network, and some argue that they prefer this to doing nothing. Some individuals exit work because they do not regard the work they are offered as real, and that ‘pretend work’ is more stigmatising than not working. ‘Family resemblance’ with common perceptions of work appears to be a key point.

Employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities