Although there isn't a perfect "one size fits all" job for people with cerebral palsy (especially since its effects can vary from person to person), there are still a wide variety of job opportunities that could work well and enable you to thrive in certain working conditions. In this post, we'll point out what those are but first, let's cover some basics...
WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?
First off, cerebral palsy (CP) isn't a disease. It's a condition caused as a result of a brain injury that happens during childbirth or during the development of the fetus. It can also be brought on post-birth by a traumatic injury such as a car accident or swimming injury.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy can affect the coordination and motor skills of a child's development, so the injury may not always be diagnosed right away. About 1,200 to 1,500 preschool-aged children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year (source).
The symptoms and severity of cerebral palsy can vary significantly from person to person. Depending on the severity of CP, this condition can lead to other medical complications such as learning disabilities, hearing or vision impairment, speech problems, or other neurological issues such as difficulty walking or muscle spasms.
Not everyone with cerebral palsy is intellectually impaired. In fact, many people with CP are of above average intelligence. However, there are certain work conditions that you may want to avoid if you have cerebral palsy...
WORST WORK CONDITIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
Walking or Standing for Long Periods – Some people with CP may be wheelchair-bound or have difficulty walking.
No Elevator – Stairs can also be a big issue for people with CP who are wheelchair-bound or have poor motor skills.
Fast-Paced Environments – Stressful, fast-paced settings and work conditions with deadlines may be difficult if you have some cognitive issues.
Long or Non-Flexible Schedule – People with CP may need a more flexible schedule for healthcare appointments and other health-related issues.
So, with that, here are some of the jobs you're probably better off avoiding if you have cerebral palsy...
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WORST JOBS FOR PEOPLE WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
Truck Driver – Driving long distances may take its toll if you live with chronic pain. Having to sit behind a wheel all day without being able to stretch for long periods may make it difficult to maintain your physical health.
Health Care Worker – Most healthcare jobs may not be a good choice for people with CP. Many of these jobs can be stressful, carry long hours, and require you to be on your feet much of the time. The job may also require you to bend, lift, and move patients, which may be difficult if you also have mobility issues.
Construction Worker – Construction jobs like roofing and sheetrock installation may be difficult and painful if you have chronic pain issues. Not only do you need to carry heavy equipment and supplies all day, but the work can be repetitive and may lead to health issues with your upper body and extremities such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or back problems.
Auto Mechanic – Using tools like lug wrenches, screwdrivers, and welding equipment can be very difficult for someone with mobility or cognitive issues like CP. Mechanics also work in positions that can be awkward such as bending under a car hood or getting under a car for repairs.
HOW TO COPE WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AT YOUR WORKPLACE
Everybody wants to get through their workday with as little stress as possible. But if you have a health condition like CP, even everyday struggles can seem like a big hurdle. Here are some tips to cope with managing your CP symptoms and improving your workplace stress factors:
BEST WORK CONDITIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
The best jobs for people with cerebral palsy will include a company culture with managers who are open to molding the job description requirements to each person's strengths. For some, the use of assistive technology may be helpful. For others, being able to sit most of the day while working would be beneficial and productive. Other helpful work conditions may include:
Assistive Technology – The use of assistive technology in the workplace can provide many opportunities for people with cerebral palsy. Funding and grants can be provided for people to buy or repair assistive technology equipment (source).
Wheelchair Accessibility – This is a must if you use a wheelchair due to CP.
Supportive Management – Having a supportive manager and co-workers may go a long way in helping to succeed in a conventional workplace.
Flexible Schedule – Having the flexibility to take time off when you need to helps ease the stresses of a strict 9-to-5 workplace.
So, what kinds of jobs best fit people with cerebral palsy?
BEST JOBS FOR PEOPLE WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
Online Entrepreneur – Starting your own online business can be accomplished with a small budget and limited only by the time you put in. Consider finding a niche you love or something you're good at and sell it with your own online business using a platform like Shopify.
Library Work or a Bookstore – This is a low-pressure job that may not require a lot of walking. Tasks, like answering the phone, putting on labels, checking out books, or entering information into a computer, could be work that can be accomplished in a slow-paced environment with a supportive network of co-workers.
Culinary Arts – Many people with cerebral palsy have found fulfillment in doing repetitive tasks in the food service industry such as prepping food or cooking. In an intimate environment such as a cafe, diner, or bakery, a person with CP may be able to find caring co-workers and managers.
Vocational Counseling – If you enjoy helping people, why not help others with finding out what their passion in life is? Vocational counseling can be a very rewarding career while giving back to the community.
Working from Home – Making money from home can have several advantages. Various jobs like freelancing, affiliate marketing, or taking surveys can bring in extra money and be a rewarding experience without the daily stresses of commuting to an outside workplace.
In a 2016 Gallup survey, 43% of Americans said that they spend some of their time working from home (source). Jobs like customer service, freelance writing, and affiliate marketing are all great ways to make money while staying at home. I've found affiliate marketing to be the BEST way to earn money online and with the right training, you, too, can excel in this type of business.
To sum things up, there are many ways to make money and live a more independent life if you have cerebral palsy. But a work from home opportunity like affiliate marketing can be especially beneficial because of its scheduling flexibility and the ability to take a break from work on a "bad day." By finding a job that enables you to tailor your strengths and skills to fit the requirements of the job, you can build a career that fits your individual needs.
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!
What jobs for people with cerebral palsy would you recommend? How have you dealt with cerebral palsy in the workplace in the past? Leave your comments below!