Educating Ourselves About ADA Helped Us Make an Informed Job Decision

Lori Dunham avatar

by Lori Dunham |

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about our daughter’s desire to get a summer job. I was overwhelmed with the limitations that Grace faced in her job search, knowing she can’t work a typical job for teenagers like most of her friends. Many of the jobs available to her required heavy lifting, a lot of walking, or crowded workspaces. We researched and applied to a few that seemed possible in light of her Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS).

Grace got a call for an interview from a local grocery store shortly after we began her job search. They were calling to interview her for a few different positions. We knew this grocery store was particularly good at hiring people with disabilities, so we felt confident it would be a good match.

We began to prepare Grace for her first interview.

Grace and I discussed whether or not she wanted to disclose her disability. I really didn’t know what was most prudent regarding her disclosure. I researched and read up on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I also spoke with family members in the business world to get their advice about when, how, and how much to disclose about a disability. I then shared that information with Grace so she could make an educated decision.

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She went into the interview nervous but excited at the prospect of working. After an hour-long interview, she came out excited and so proud of herself for conducting herself in a professional manner. She was asked why she wanted to work at this grocery store. She explained that it was their proactive stance on hiring people with disabilities that encouraged her to apply. This began her discussion with them about her LEMS and the limitations it places on her physically.

She was very realistic and honest in her assessment of what job she could accept. She told them she definitely could not accept a job as a bagger since they offer to walk bagged groceries out to customers’ cars.

A day later, they called and offered her a cashier position. She was over the moon with excitement. We believe this will be a great fit for Grace. Although cashiers stand most of the time, Grace does not have trouble standing for long periods of time. Her struggle is mostly with walking stamina and stability.

Additionally, six months ago, we would have been concerned with energy levels. But since she began treatment with Rituxan (rituximab), she has had much more energy. I believe she will be able to manage the length of the shifts. We, of course, will keep a close eye on her energy levels as she gets into her work schedule.

I cannot convey just how important this win was for Grace. For two years, she had been feeling the loss of so many of her first loves. She often questioned her ability to be independent in the future and have a career.

This was the first step in showing her she is capable of more than she thinks. Yes, she may need accommodations, and we may be extra careful when picking the right work environment. But we want her to see she is able to be productive and accomplish her goals while living with a rare disease.

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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.

Comments

Gisel Burgos avatar

Gisel Burgos

Hello Lori, I have been following your posts about Grace. I have a 9 year old daughter who was diagnosed with LEMS September 2020. Can I ask you some questions? When my daughter Kamila started getting treatment with Prednisone and Rixurgi she responded well. But, it's not really helping much anymore. We have hit a plateau and bit of set back, so our neurologist wants to start her up with Retuximab. Our insurance does not want to cover an "experimental/ unsafe" drug. We are appealing this decision. It's frustrating. Can we communicate privately if you don't mind?

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Lori Dunham avatar

Lori Dunham

Hi Gisel. I would be very happy to talk with you privately. My email is [email protected]
I look forward to hearing from you privately.

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