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Learning what you are interested in

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Working out what you’re interested in helps give meaning to your life and makes a big difference to finding a job you like doing.

Sadly, many young people and adults with intellectual disability don’t get the chance to work out what they are interested in. Limited life experiences, low expectations and barriers to communication, often leave people with intellectual disability doing what other people think they can, or want, to do.

Family support and work and on-the-job experience help you get to know your interests and try out jobs. This gives you the best chance of finding and keeping a job you like.

Ideally, families start early to give you opportunities to explore different interests. But it’s never too late to start. Working out your interests can be part of your journey to a more fulfilling life at any age. Work experience, volunteering and casual work are all great ways to help you find out what work you like.

Using a Discovery process to find out what you’re interested in

Discovery is a process designed to get to know you and work out your:

  • strengths
  • qualities
  • skills
  • interests
  • preferences.

As well as the kinds of support that work best for you.

Discovery is the first step in a longer process called customised employment, which helps people with intellectual disability work in jobs that are a good match for them. You can access Customised employment and Discovery supports using your NDIS plan or through some DES providers.

Each step in the Discovery process helps you understand what work might be good for you. These include:

  • Meeting with you and your family, where appropriate.
  • Observing you at home and in your community to learn about your capacity and the resources around you.
  • Talking with your friends and acquaintances, such as school staff, people who supported your work experience and others you may have volunteered with.
  • Observing you doing activities you’re interested and may have skills in, such as a hobby club, sport or dance class. Photos and videos taken in these settings can also help create a visual resume or portfolio.
  • Working with you to highlight any work-related themes that are coming out of the process so far.
  • Supporting you to find and meet with employers to learn about different kinds of jobs and do work experience or volunteer work.
  • Working with you to put together a work profile based on what they have discovered.
  • Supporting you to make a plan to explore jobs and workplaces that match your work profile.
  • Creating a career portfolio that includes a resume and cover letters.
  • Supporting you to get ready for and take part in interviews with employers whose workplaces could match your interests. These interviews help you get information and advice about different jobs and careers. They also give the employer an opportunity to learn about you, and your potential for future employment in that kind of workplace. These interviews aren’t about trying to get a job, but are a good way for job seekers and employers to learn about each other.

When this process is finished, you can also use your NDIS funds or work with your DES provider to support you through the next stage of Customised employment, Job Creation. Learn more about customised employment here

Many NDIS service providers offer Customised employment and Discovery programs, but remember that you decide your own supports. NDIS funding is designed around each person, so you can get support to suit what you want and need.

You don’t have to fit into a program offered by a provider. You can choose an individual support person that has the right skills. Some support people may have had training in Customised employment and Discovery. There’s also information available to explain the processes and the supports you may need to take part.

A project by Inclusion Australia

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