Finding the Right Resources to Help My Daughter With Her Job Search

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by Lori Dunham |

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As the days slowly lengthen and stretch before us, I am faced with new challenges caused by Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) and the limitations it places on our 16-year-old daughter, Grace. 

After a year gone topsy-turvy with COVID-19 protocols and accommodations, we came to a manageable working schedule for Grace, taking her limitations into consideration. 

School became doable. Some activity resumed. By the middle of the year, Grace was feeling well enough to begin horse therapy, attend mid-week church activities, and participate in numerous extracurricular activities as COVID-19 protocol allowed. 

Now, we have moved from the familiar rhythms of classroom instruction and homework into summer. As we welcome in the season, new obstacles arrive along with the heat and humidity. 

We began to plan what Grace’s schedule might look like during the long days of a Florida summer. The heat and humidity are hard on her. Heat exacerbates her weakness and she can’t be outside for long without feeling the effects. 

This year not only brought COVID-19 and an improvement in Grace’s health, but she also turned 16, which means she can now get a summer job. She has always been a very hard worker and is interested in earning her own money. 

I want very much to encourage her to be independent and self-sufficient. Yet LEMS has brought limitations into her life that we need to acknowledge and factor into our decision-making process as we move forward with a summer job. 

In no way do I want to hinder Grace as she explores what she can do, but at the same time, I want to set her up for success. For instance, her dream job at this point in her life would be to work outside with horses. We both know this would be very difficult since it would require her to be in the hot Florida sun all day. 

Most teenagers around here get summer jobs working at fast-food restaurants or grocery stores. Many of them require heavy lifting or crowded work spaces that would not work well for Grace. 

As I helped her search for opportunities, I began to struggle emotionally as I recognized what she was up against. Of course, as her mom, I want Grace to be able to do everything that everyone else can do. I hate seeing her face so many obstacles and struggle to do what other teenagers often do without a second thought. 

I allowed myself to acknowledge these emotions but realized I needed to move beyond feeling sorry for myself (or her) and move into constructive problem-solving. 

I sought advice from our local Muscular Dystrophy Association care center and received some helpful and practical tips. They also directed me toward companies that hire people with disabilities. 

Contacting our local vocational rehabilitation center was also helpful. Although some of these services were geared more toward adult employment, they helped guide me in the right directions. 

These organizations also gave me hope that as Grace continues to mature and reach adulthood, she will have plenty of opportunities to follow a career path that not only matches her skills and talents but also works well with her physical limitations. 

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Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia.

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