A. Prioritize components of gainful employment.
Pick and choose / prioritize components from the “9 components of gainful employment (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gainful_employment). These include Variety of work, Safe working environment, Income, Feeling of Purpose, Friendship at work (among others.)
While we may desire all 9 components to feel “fulfilled”, we may not all rank these components the same. Thus, identify your personal ranking based on your self-knowledge and how you best thrive as a person.
B. Identify elements of gainful employment that, for you, requires some level of accommodation
For example, under the “Variety” component, you may desire variety but within certain parameters because of your special situation. The same may be said for “safe working environment” — we can use a very broad definition of “safe” to include safety from physical harm or harassment.
However, you may have additional considerations. For example, someone whose epilepsy may be triggered by certain kinds of lighting will need to look at a parameter that her peers may not think twice about, because of this special consideration.
C. Analyze the Risk/Benefit Ratio of accommodation.
This is truly the root of the matter. Employers want to behave in the most enlightened manner and they also must conduct some form of “risk/benefit” analysis when looking to include employees of all different abilities. This is where we can engage our creative muscles and look for a working solution.
For example, there are workers who need a certain level of “quiet” or they cannot function because they have such sensitive hearing it is painful to be in a regular workplace with ambient noise. Telecommuting may be a way to include workers like these. The limitation is that telecommuting requires other technologies like video or teleconferencing to “link” that worker to a work-hub. Telecommuting is also limited to work that can be done virtually, and does not require physical collaboration (for example, you cannot telecommute as a baker).
I suggest that you do the following:
- Go through A, B, C (prioritize, identify, analyze)
- Brainstorm various scenarios of “work environments” that can leverage your skills and talents
- Research where these work environments may exist, or what work environments lend well to becoming productive work environments for you, with some accommodations
- Sometimes you may do well by finding other with similar abilities and create a consortium or some type of a work group (I don’t have specific examples but just brainstorming this and throwing it out there for someone brilliant to have an ah-ha moment and add comments to this answer.)
- Sometimes you need to create your own job (and this is where looking at freelancing opportunities are needed, although I know this means you don’t get one of the most critical benefits of employment: healthcare benefits.)
I Believe in You!