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MS-EMPLOYMENT AND THE ADA

08/12/10

Permalink 10:27:33 pm, by eleanor Email , 841 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Advocacy, Thoughts, Adapting Activities, information, Employment

MS-EMPLOYMENT AND THE ADA

The ADA covers prevention of discrimination for all kinds of disability issues on employment for people with disabilities. This can and has presented quite a challenge for people with conditions that don't fit neatly into categories.  This was why the amendment to the ADA was past in 2OO8. People with MS are beneficiaries of this amendment. A practical summary of this and the changes in employment accommodation  can be found at:http://hr.cch.com/news/employment/091709a.asp

I am no longer working.. However I did work until I was 61 although mostly part time.  I also had years where I did not work. So I am not currently able to take advantage of the new provisions against discrimination thru the ADA. Over my working years I definitely could have used more  understanding and more flexibility.

I was diagnosed with MS later in life. However, I did have problems that were due to MS years before my official diagnosis. Over the years I  continued to make a lot of accommodations myself so I could continue to work.  I feel the fact that I was able to accommodate my losses myself made a big difference.

  I was a Physical Therapist and I eventually worked as a contract PT so I could set my own schedule. As I was never good in the late afternoon which eventually became early afternoon then late morning I was forced to make changes.

I did a lot of Home Care and would try to have patients close to where I lived so I could pop home take a nap then go out and see a couple more patients.  If I wasn't up to seeing patients even after a nap then I re-scheduled them in on Saturday.

When I worked in Home Care before I became a contract therapist, I made sure that  I could go home after my last patient and do my paperwork at home.  Thus forgoing the trip back to the office when I was usually exhausted.  With other work, I made sure I worked part time (Mostly in the morning.)

When I was finally diagnosed with MS the neurologist stated that yes I had had MS for years, and not to be surprised if I seemed to be losing function faster as I had fewer reserves left. However, he was also sure I would adapt. After I told him my history he stated I had been successfully making many appropriate changes as I needed to on my own.

Not everyone is fortunate like I have been to have a more moderate case of MS and find employment they could find ways to adapt.  In fact in the US only about 40% of people with MS are currently employed. And the current estimates are that only 20 to 25% will continue working until age 65.

The very nature of MS with it's inconsistently from day to day can make it difficult for the employer to hire someone or can limit the jobs that could accommodate inconsistency at work. And a person with MS may not feel confident about applying for positions that they feel they may need to ask  accommodations for.

Another problem is that MS can affect every person differently. Some people may have more problems with vision, pain, balance, tremor, cognition, incontinence or side effects from medications. But the one problem that most people with MS will have is fatigue. This unfortunately can be invisible and is poorly understood yet it is debilitating.  Then there's also the problem of having a relapse and  how can that be handled.

Another obstacle is the fact that it can be a progressive disease. This brings up the longer term question. Will the physical environment eventually no longer be adequate etc. When do you disclose that you have MS?  When might it be time for a career change ?

It is not always easy to be employed when you have MS. Like the disease itself it is a very complex issue around the world as well as here in the US.  Luckily we now have the recent amendments to the ADA.

The current issue of the MS International Federation's publication's is about Employment and MS. It's an excellent issue and I feel that it is a good place to start your research on employment issues and MS.The link to the issue is below.

MSinFocusIssue16EN.pdf

Then I suggest going to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They have an outstanding collection of articles to help you with your understanding and decision-making on this issue.

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/employment/index.aspx

But above all don't make a quick decision to leave employment. Please don't get discouraged and give in.

Find a career you can really love and fight to stay employed in it. Fulltime, part-time, working from your home, do whatever works best at the time. Do not give  up easily. Being paid to do something your really interested in and your good at is an important part of life. Do not let society cheat you out of it.

                                                   ellie

 

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