What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

By Nancy Mader, Director of Transition Projects

Nancy MaderThe other day my 6 year-old son, Milo, told me he wanted to be a chef when he grows up. This is coming from a kid that I would consider one of the top 10 pickiest eaters in the world. My initial response was to giggle and let him know that he would have to taste all of the food that he was cooking for people and that no restaurant could survive on his short list of culinary pleasures. Then, I wanted to find out what he thought being a chef meant and what interested him in this particular job. He’s six, so the conversation was pretty simple, but I learned a lot. It turns out he doesn’t really want to make the food but he wants to take the orders and bring the delicious dishes to people and make them happy. He wants to make people feel as happy as he feels when his favorite French toast is placed in front of him at his favorite restaurant. This conversation led to more talk about work and jobs that he might be interested in as an adult, and in turn, inspired this Newsline article.

I don’t think that it is ever too early to talk to our young people about work and to start introducing them to jobs that might meet their interests, skills, and abilities. There are so many things that we don’t think about in our daily lives that may be a challenge for our children with disabilities. If we can start to talk to them about work and provide them with vocational experiences at an early age it significantly increases their chances for success as adults and opens the door for them to make informed decisions.

Here are a few simple things that you can do at home:

  • Give your child a weekly task/chore around the house
  • Talk about jobs they are interested in
  • Research jobs on the internet
  • Volunteer in the community
  • Practice shaking hands and introductions
  • Practice disclosure and asking for accommodations
  • Take them to work with you!

This is a short list and there are many other things that can be done at home to get young people thinking about work and to start preparing them for their vocation futures. Start the conversation and see where it takes you. Who knows, maybe Milo will end up being a chef when he grows up.