In my adulthood, joy has been difficult for me to experience. I felt included when I was growing up. As a child, I played sports, attended summer camps, and attended birthday parties. I went to local schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. As I got older, I didn’t belong like I used to. Friendships were more challenging to come by. Inclusion doesn’t seem to matter once you leave school.
The statistics show this as well. 19.1% of people with disabilities were employed in the US in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That percentage needs to be much higher than it is. More disabled adults should be employed in the United States. The unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities in 2021 was 80.9%.
I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs since 2019. I have yet to find a job. I’d love to work and make my own money. Working would make me happy and give me something to look forward to. I’d rather make hamburgers or be a cashier at a grocery store instead of receiving disability benefits. I’ve wanted to work since I was a teenager. I couldn’t get a job at Stop And Shop or McDonald’s.
I thought getting a job would be easy. Fast food restaurants and grocery stores hire teenagers. It is difficult for me to see people younger than me who are employed. Employers don’t hire me once I disclose my disability.
Growing up, I wondered why people like me weren’t working. I knew very few adults with disabilties who worked. I wish I had known more adults with disabilities when I was younger. I didn’t know many people with disabilities who had gone through the transition to adulthood.
Disabled children grow up into disabled adults. We don’t magically outgrow our disabilities on our 18th birthday. Disabled adults still need support. We deserve to enjoy our lives no matter how old we are. I am tired of feeling forgotten.
“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary – 2021.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2022, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm.