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July '23 News, Updates & Events

In this Issue:

President's Message

2023 Parent University Class 7: Finding Friendly Employers

July 20, 12-1

Catch up on Parent U Class 6 Now

How to Make a Great Job Match

Overcoming Obstacles to Employment by Kaela Denny

Protected Tomorrows In The News

Upcoming Events

President's Message

Dear Clients & Friends,

Employment is a funny thing. Some people are lucky enough to love what they do—myself included. I wouldn’t choose to do anything else!  

Others view work as just a means to a paycheck. And still others are more than ready to move on to something new.

But adults with special needs face different realities altogether. For many, work is hard to come by. (Read the article below by our client Kaela Denny for some remarkable insights on this topic.)

The good news is, many adults with special needs have skills and talents that make them employable—and more employers are starting to see that. We just need to locate them!

Needless to say, this newsletter is our “jobs issue”—to complement this month’s Parent University class topic on how to locate friendly employers. I hope you’ll join us!

Warmest regards,

Mary Anne Ehlert

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2023 Parent University Class 7: "Employment: Let's Meet Some Friendly Employers" Thursday, July 20, 12-1PM CDT

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Join us for our July Parent University class, when we tackle the very important topic of helping loved ones with disabilities find jobs where they can succeed and thrive.

We will answer these key questions:

  • What kinds of companies hire workers with disabilities?
  • What do employers look for in candidates with disabilities?
  • What accommodations do they provide?
  • What's the best way to approach them?
  • And, if you're an employer, how do you go about hiring a candidate with a disability?

Attend this webinar, and learn the answers—straight from employers who excel at hiring employees with special needs. They’ll not only tell us what questions to ask a potential employer, but how to prepare your applicant for the interview process—and the employment experience, too. 

"Employment: Let's Meet Some Friendly Employers"

Thursday, July 20, 12-1PM CDT

If you'd like the information, but can’t attend, go ahead and register, and we’ll provide you with a link to the recorded video after the class.  

For Zoom security, when you register, you’ll receive an email with a link to the class and a passcode—which you’ll be asked to enter when you log-on. (To avoid disruption, we'll close the class at 12:05. If you’re late, you'll be able to watch the video later.) 

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Missed Class 6, "Corporate Guardians and Trustees"?

View It Free until July 25!

If you missed last month's Parent University class, "Corporate Guardians and Trustees," you can watch it for free—but only for a short time. The video is available with our compliments until July 25. Just use the coupon code 2023pu6corporate at checkout.

In this class, we revealed the role that corporate guardians and trustees might play when planning for your child’s future without you. We discuss what services they provide and how to find the right provider for your family.  

To watch it using the Coupon Code:

  • Click on the link below to access the class in our store
  • Add the class to your cart
  • Type in the above code at checkout
  • Click “Apply coupon”
Watch Here
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How to Make a Great Job Match

One Real Life Success Story is a great resource for jobseekers with disabilities. In addition to providing all kinds of useful tips and information, it features moving real-life success stories.

For example, take Oscar, a 27-year-old man with disabilities who was eager to work. He was able to secure a great job through a process called Discovery. Through Discovery, his job developer got to know him--his skills, interests and personality--then found him a job to match.

Oscar's dream job: a position at Shake Shack, where he loves helping customers and keeping operations on track. Read Oscar's story.

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Overcoming Obstacles to Employment: Communication Is Key

By Client and Guest Author Kaela Denny, Assistant Professor, Matthias Academy

As a person with disabilities, I have firsthand experience with the difficulties of finding and keeping employment. The statistics for people with disabilities are dismal: most are either unemployed or underemployed. Unemployment for people with disabilities remains twice as high as for people without disabilities. Nearly 80% of people with disabilities are considered “not in the labor force,” meaning they are not employed or seeking work.


As a person with several disabilities including autism, non-verbal learning difficulties, etc., I am very lucky to have found employment. However, it was not an easy task, and I experienced many discouraging aspects.


Common Employment Challenges

First, I received feedback that had nothing to do with my work or effort, but reflected upon my disabilities. For example, I received feedback on my attire, which did not allow for the needs of someone with sensory issues. There was no opportunity to resolve this through compromise; instead, it became a warning or infraction.

This is a common situation that people with disabilities face in the workplace. It can lead to trauma, low self-esteem, and anxiety. There were times after receiving this “feedback” that I didn’t want to come to work the next day due to anxiety.


Second, I often felt like my voice was not heard. Often, other people received credit for ideas and suggestions that I provided. This made me feel angry, disappointed and “less-than.” People with disabilities deserve to be critiqued on their actual work and not their disabilities.


Communication Issues

Many people with disabilities struggle with communication with coworkers and employers. Personally, I get very confused with social gestures that are not spoken or vague directions.


Others who have disabilities prefer to have no face-to-face interactions and have their responsibilities written on paper. Employers need to recognize that there are different kinds of learners: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Perhaps employers can ask workers how they best receive information?


We often communicate differently than our neurotypical peers and this can make social interactions confusing and difficult. My current employer, Matthias Academy, has been very accommodating in this area. For example, my coworkers provide me with detailed instructions that are clear and to the point. This allows me to successfully complete tasks without having to guess what they mean.


Comfortable Work Clothes

One of my bigger challenges at work is dressing the part. Many people with disabilities struggle to find the proper clothes due to sensory issues. It takes me a long time to find comfortable clothing—and when I say they're uncomfortable, I mean that the clothes physically feel painful to my skin. (For example, sometimes the seam is not in the normal place—can you believe they make pants now where the seams run down the middle of our legs?)


Often, after purchasing clothes, I refuse to wear them due to anxiety. And even when I do find comfortable clothes, my wardrobe is still quite limited and small. As such, this requires a lot more loads of laundry to be done throughout the week…ugh!


My Wonderful Job & Employer

I was very lucky though, in finding my job today. I work part-time at Matthias Academy as an Assistant Professor. Before that, I was in a work study program. This allowed me to try out the job, without being held responsible for daily tasks.


This also allowed Matthias Academy to learn my strengths, weaknesses, and what did/didn’t work for me. My employer supports me and accepts me the way I am. (My mom calls that a “compassionate employer.”) My coworkers—who I call “my team”—are always happy to work with me. They are inclusive of me and support the decisions I make. They include me in coffee orders and in conversations about job responsibilities.


I could never imagine finding employment that could accept me and my disabilities for what they are. I’m very grateful to be working at Matthias Academy!


I cannot fit everything into this article, but INCLUSION and ACCEPTANCE go a long way in the workplace.

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Protected Tomorrows in the News

You never know where we may turn up next! MaryAnne was recently profiled in Bitcoin News Today, an online publication for banking professionals.

If you would like to read our origin story, learn more about financial planning for special needs families, and even get some basic planning tips, check it out!

This Is Where We Will Be in the Weeks Ahead...


Upcoming Events, July - August 2023

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JULY 2023

July 8, 8AM-5PM CDT (MaryAnne is presenting)

2023 ASF Virtual Education Summit

Sponsored by Angelman Syndrome Foundation

July 12, 6:30-8:30PM

"Planning for the Future" - MaryAnne's presentation

Willow Creek Community Church

67 Algonquin Rd., S. Barrington IL 60010

July 13-16 (Jeanine speaks July 15 at 2PM)

"Your Journey Through an 8-Step Life Care Planning Program"

Annual 5P Minus Society Conference

Eaglewood Resort, 1401 Nordic Rd., Itasca 60143


August 17, 12-1 CDT

Parent University Class 8 - Online

"Guardianship vs. POA vs. Supported Decision Making"

Note: Class 10 has been changed to October 12.

For more information on these events and our complete 2023 calendar, click here.

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