Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Out of the Inbox - Developmentally delayed people at the workplace

Note: Due to the sheer volume of submissions, we have been unable to post all letters we have received.
Please be patient as your letter will be posted very soon.

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader

I know I am taking a chance by writing this, so please bear with me on this one. I am B"H lucky enough to have a job that I enjoy and look forward to every day. I work with developmentally delayed children and their families. The work is tough, but very rewarding. There is nothing like being able to see such a child smile and feel special.

There is however one thing that has been bothering me about my job. The place that I work for hires MR/DD (mentally retarded / developmentally delayed) teens and adults to work at our place. While I think it's an unbelievable idea to integrate these people and to give them work to do, at times this can end up being a hindrance to the workers at the place. Many times there will be meltdowns, papers will be improperly filed and phone calls will be misdirected.

Sometimes this can cause a lot of chaos and confusion and even lost or misplaced documents, thus adding many extra hours to everyone else's workload. I try to keep things calm and in order, but sometimes it is just very difficult to handle what is taking place.

I thought that I was the only one that was bothered by this and felt a little guilty and embarrassed that I was making such a big deal about it. I was surprised when my coworkers brought this issue up once at lunch. I couldn't believe that they had been feeling this way as well. I don't want to sound insensitive as I do believe that it is a great idea that these people can contribute. I just wish there was some way that we could work this out so that it did not impinge on the workers so much.

I would love to know if anyone has had such a work situation too and how their agency deals with this issue.

Dear Writer of this letter:

You sound young and inexperienced, likely have young, healthy chidren, or none at all. You clearly have no family members that were afflicted with MR or similar.
There is the story of a MR individual who came before one of our gedolim for a brocha. The Godol stood up for him. When asked why, he replied: "I have more resepct for him than for any mainstream individual. He doesn't lie, steal, cheat or hurt people, as he's unable to process doing so. He is an "ish tahor" who will go to gan eden. He is a true tzadik, and for this person I stand up"
Folks, every person is put onto this earth for a specific reason. How dare we looks at some one elses faults WHEN THEY ARE NOT DELIBERATE? We should examine our own faults, which we CAN help, before we go criticizing the faults of a MR/DD person WHO IS CLEARLY UNAWARE and who is brought into a working (normal) environment to experience the "real world" by those of us who understand that he is a bosor v'dom, a creation of the RBSH"OL - as such, how do we have the right to even question the RBSH"OL.
We must all accept every person (dare I say yid or not) who is ill for what they are, as they are.
I remember as a child, growing up with another boy who CONSTANTLY made fun of one severely MR child in shul, week after week. He tormented him incessantly. He is now a grandfather - but only from one of his 4 children, the other 3 were all born with "issues".
The RBSH"OL is NOT!! forgiving.

In conclusion, please re-examine your concerns and priorities BEFORE you lash out at the innocent, HONEST childern of the RBSH"OL.

May He grant you a life filled with brocha, hatzlocha v'chol tuv.


If this was your family member, would you appreciaciate pepole writing a latter like this. You have chutspeh. were happy that our family member has a place to work.
chapzem - why did you publish this lettar. you have chutspeh also.


Funny you should post this, because there is a guy who works for an agency that will remain unnamed, whose job it is to pounce upon any "help wanted" ad posted on Jewish community web sites, and to convince the employer that he can fill the position with males and females with developmental disabilities.

It follows, that such hiring would hinder all other employees' productivity, but of course everyone is afraid to speak their mind for fear of being called "insensitive" (ironically by people who secretly feel the same).

I worked in the past at an agency that had workshops specifically for the MRDD population, where they get to perform work for major corporations without resulting in any possible negative effect on the company or its other employees.

Thanks for the honesty. It's about time somebody said out lous what most others are saying behind closed doors.


Oh my gosh! We had this situation. I am a Medicaid Service Coordinator in an agency too and we also hired a young man with DD and MR to work for us. There were some problems like the fact that he desperately wanted to get married and would gaze and gawk at little girls and women who came in to the office. Also, he would wander around when he needed to do his job. Otherwise, he was a friendly guy who always was ready to do favors for all of us "girls". He was recently replaced by a regular girl and we really miss him! We now have to get our own water from the water cooler, which he used to happily bring for us. We also need to pick ourselves up from our chairs to get to the fax and copier, whereas he used to do all these things for us. What i am saying is that WE MISS HIM! There is nothing like working with this population, it is the most gratifying job i have ever had. He did everything with a smile. He was honest if there was something he didnt want to do, he told us so. We didnt have to figure out if we can cant ask him. We asked and he answered. He loved his job, took pride in it, and we really loved him. We made a party on his last day and he was crying.
I must be honest here, the reason why he left was becasue our agency got to big to be able to handle him doing some things. We needed someone more capable to do what he was doing.


So the movie "I am Sam".

Bottom line, We as a community need to make sure handicapped indivduals have the most fulfilling lives possible (work, communtiy service, etc.). We must help them find jobs that suit them wthout being an unnecessary burdon on coworkers.


Anon 10:28:

How dare you talk so well about how much you miss the MR/DD individual (who, as you said, was replaced by what you called a "regular" girl, implying that the MR/DD individual was irregular)??

The only good things you had to say about him was the fact that he would do all of your dirty work, and that you took advantage of his sweet nature and willingness to help and please his female coworkers.

Additionally, you stated that what you lack now is not his kind and pure nature, rather you are upset about the fact that you now actually have to get up off your rear and actually do some menial labor yourself.

What you miss is a person who would be your slave, your sucker, and someone you can use.

Well, now you poor thing have to send your own faxes and get your own water! BOO HOO!


Where I live, there is a supermarket chain which hires them to bag groceries. They hire MR/DD and Seniors exclusively for that job. These MR/DD and/or Seniors appreciate the employment, and are an asset to the company.

In the position they are working they do not interfere at all, and only help the cashiers by bagging for them.

They also help by carrying out the groceries to the customers' cars, and help putting the groceries in your trunk for you.

They are hourly employees and tipping is not permitted, as their service is part of the stores service.

Sure, they sometimes make "inappropriate" remarks, smile funny, or do other "funny" things. But so what? Nobody minds. Everyone gets along fine. The Casheirs appreciate the help, the customers appreciate the help, and the MRDD employees feel as though they are contributing members of society, which they are.


Dear "January 16, 2008 9:42 AM"
Take a deep breath, and RELAX!
The poster posed a question if he has a right that a situation bother him, and starts a discussion, and you respond with Hashem not being Mochel him, and giving him sick grandchildren. I understand your point and I agree with you, but your response is unfair to a person that BH obviously didn't ever experience this tereble Machle first hand. You on the other hand did, so please be sensative to others as you wish they be to your family members. The original poster did not DELIBERATLY do anything wrong.

and by the way....
for your coment "The RBSH"OL is NOT!! forgiving"
You haven't a clue! HE SO IS!


12:24 RIGHT ON!!!!

1:38 I'd love to have this discussion with you in person. You obvioiusly missed the point of my post. I will however admit that perhaps "forgiving" was the wrong term and "forgetting" would have been more appropriate.

BOTTOM LINE: Dont mess with Hashem's creations.


Listen up everyone, and pass this message along. I urge you, in the most strongest of terms, be careful not to mistreat anyone who is a "nebach." Now, this does not mean condoning inappropriate behaviors that they may exhibit. But, just don't be mean by taunting, embarassing, or tormenting them just for the fun of it or hatred.
I have yet to see even ONE person who is guilty of such a thing (Oy! RBSH"OL, please mochel me - yes, I have a child with a High Neshama, B"H), that some tragedy did not happen to them or member(s) of their family. Some of these tragedies I noticed include, R"L, becoming disabled, crippling accidents, Alzheimers, surprising divorces, retardation, etc. So, PLEASE, be careful.


I frequently go to Corner Cafe for lunch. They always hire slow frum yidden to clean the tables and do local deliveries. i think the owner deserves a lot of credit for employing these people who can't find work elsewhere.


There are special organizations for these "special" people to help them learn a trade so they can become self sufficient, have a higher self esteem about themselves, etc.

If these professional people who are training these special people to learn a trade so they can be self sufficient, don't you think they deserve a chance like everyone else in the world to be in the workplace?

Like January 16, 2008 2:29 PM states:

BOTTOM LINE: Dont mess with Hashem's creations.


I comment as the parent of a special child.
I agree with the post, there are occasions where there could be meltdown or huge problems with misfiled therefor missing documents. People should also read up on the concerns there were in Israel where the oarents finally had a special army unit for jobs utilizing downs affected young men. There were very legitimate concerns about people running to them for help in an emergency, losing time while realizing these were not fully capable soldiers.


To Anon 5:39

Hey, I clean the tables at Corner Cafe and I'm not MR. If you have a problem with my service just tell me, no need for name calling.
An apology is in order.


To anon 12:24
I am anon 10:28. I did not mean anything negative when I wrote any of that and you totally misinterprated my words. I was merely injecting some "humor" into this discussion. We loved everything about this worker and he loved wworking for us. I dont think that getting water and faxes is a dirty job. HE LOVED DOING IT! To put it this way, it was one of the things that he was able to do and know that he was doing it right. Regarding the use of the word regular, note that i did not use the word "normal" and not normal. Regular means usual, standard, ordinary... irregular, ( which i didnt even use but which you might have implied from the word regular) is not a derogatory term. And, when you work with this population several years like i am, you gain respect for them and you really love them. I have a caseload (and now you'll critisize the word case- I am not even going to excuse myself for that since I dont know how else to term it since this is the way all agencies and the government call this) of 25 children and i love them like my own. They are the brightest and sweetest people who you have ever met. Did you think that i was going to extol all this workers virtues in one small blog space? No. I was just going to write some of the fringe benefits that we got out of it- which, I repeat, he enjoyed doing! I am appalled by your reponse- Its amazing how upset you got at something that you know nothing about. Do you think that we work in our chosen fields for nothing. We love what we do! I dont miss him for being my "slave", like you call him. I miss him just for being him and for helping us with anything we needed. (one more thing, its funny that you are critisizing us for using him, when you dont even know what his job description was- he might have been the office errand boy?! You never know. So please, stop blasting others on anonymous blogs about something you know nothing about. I anticipate your response.


hey 8:26, chill out dude - maybe there was some one else doing the work before you...or maybe there's someone when you're not around.


what is mind-boggling about this post is that the writer "works" with dd population. Are you kidding? He can't relate to them and doesn't feel for them! He should find another job!!!!!! Someone as insensitive as himself should never be in the "helping" profession. We, too, hire such individuals, and figured out what to give or not give such individuals as tasks. Also, some large hotel chains will employ such individuals for back-of-the-house jobs because, while they are slower in getting their work done, they take even menial jobs very seriously, most times never missing a day of work. If there is a problem in the posters interaction with such individuals in his workplace, he probably is not a good communicator with this population and should go work on Wall Street instead of trying to work with DD clients.


TO ANON 11:12

Please do not make any assumptions by stating that I am commenting on a subject I know nothing about.

The fact is that I am currently a case manager working with families of and children with developmental delays, and my previous employment was doing residential habilitation (Res-Hab), and prior to that I worked in Day-Hab. Prior to that I was a home health aid for children with MD (muscular dystrophy).

I myself use the term and have a "caseload" and my clients are "consumers".

That said, I am well experienced and currently work with the MRDD population, and what I said has the backing of such.

You claim you were attempting to "inject" humor, but your first comment leaves me with the "injection" sensation and not the "humor" aspect of it.

Thanks for clarifying.


to 9:27
What I meant that you know nothing about - is that you dont know where i work - not that you dont know anything about this kind of work, mererly that you dont know anything about this specific Place that i talk about.
To 7:12
Yes I "Work" with this population. Just to inform you of what i do - I dont play with these children or touch them physically or do res hab, or counseling or anything like that. While sometimes i "counsel" parents and try to ehlp them out with anything that they might need, I do all their paperwork that will make sure that they stay on the programs that this malchus shel chesed give us for them. I am their advocate to the government and to various other resources that are available to them.
So yes, i call paperwork, filinf, office work and advocacy --- WORK! I get paid for this and am not a volunteer. This statement does not include the countless hours that i have spent overtime on my job without getting paid and the thousands of dollars that i have either raised or donated to help some parents pay for camp, medical bills, equipement and anything else they might need.
I am very much attuned to my consumers needs and try my best. The parents know that they can call me at any time of the day for any help that they need. Each and every one of them has my home and cell numbers. I came home twice this week after 7 from work. So please, please, please, stop bashing people over the way we write comments on an anonymous blog. I dont think its accomplishing anything. I am still going to work today with a big smile because i love what i do - simply put - because I love these children ( i have no adults on my caseload - hence the word children) and i want to do anything in my power to help them.
original 10:28


A public apology to the table cleaner at corner cafe, but I meant no harm and I think you do a terrific job! Keep it up!


Can anyone list names and phone numbers of organizations that can help a DD find employment?




ALL THE WRITER WAS ASKING FOR was help- with HIS PROBLEM HE WASNT SAYING THAT HE WANTS TO GET RID OF THE WORKERS- just asking how he can better deal with them?


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