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Archive for June, 2019

Purpose and Paycheck for an Individual at Casmir

Part of our mission here at Casmir Care Services involves helping improve the quality of life for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Where possible, we help individuals we care for enter the mainstream and contribute to the community in different ways.

One of the more independent individuals in our care at Casmir Community Residential Homes holds a job.  To protect her privacy, I’ll call her Gwendolyn. For her, besides the paycheck, the job offers a sense of purpose and helps connect her socially. It’s a justifiable source of pride.

Her role in Philly’s community

Since 2017, Gwendolyn has worked at Acme, the grocery store, as a bagger. When asked what she likes about her job, she says, “Going to work every day, getting out of the house.” Having a job makes her feel good, she says.  She gets to see friends at work.

Gwendolyn seems to appreciate the chance to be of service. Her favorite part of the job, she says, is cleaning bathrooms every day.

According to the Institute for Corporate Productivity, more than 3 in 4 employers surveyed ranked their employees with IDD as good or very good on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability, and attendance. While initially leery of hiring people with IDD, many employers saw their concerns dissolve after the employees came on board and they realized how good their productivity was.

She manages her daily routine

Punctuality is important to Gwendolyn. Holding a job means she has to take responsibility for clocking in on time. To get ready for work, she likes to get up early—at 5:30 am, then she takes a shower and gets dressed in her uniform. 

To make sure she gets to work on time, she will leave the house an hour and a half to two hours before the time she is expected at work. That way, no matter what issues come up with SEPTA delays or traffic during her two-bus commute, she shows up on time without fail. Her work day stretches from 9 am to 2 pm or 3 pm. She works four days a week. But from week to week, her schedule changes.

When it comes to those schedules, Gwendolyn is super detail oriented, aware that certain days, like Sundays, the bus doesn’t run as often. And she plans around that to ensure she gets to work on time.

The benefits of inclusive employment

Every Friday is payday. She earns $9/hour, the typical rate for a bagger at Acme. And as an Acme worker, she qualifies for a discount of 10 percent off store brands and 5 percent off everything else.

Unlike some people with IDD, who have a special supervisor at work, she reports to the same person as everybody else. She thinks her boss likes her work, because he says she does a good job.

In the past, she worked at the convention center, cleaning bathrooms and collecting trash.

When Gwendolyn is not at work, she likes preparing for the next day of work, going shopping at the dollar store, and going to the movies.

She has a great work ethic,” said Rachel, a Casmir supervisor. She takes what she does with pride. She likes to do her job well. She likes to keep her bosses happy. And she doesn’t like anything to stand in her way and make her late. Here’s hoping Gwendolyn’s workplace realizes how lucky they were to hire her.


Learn more:

The importance of work for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities

Hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is good for business
Resources from the U.S. Dept. of Labor on hiring people with disabilities

Around Town: Fun Things to Do in Philly


For a change of pace, here are a few Philly-based recreation options that caregivers of intellectually disabled individuals should keep in mind.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Carousel House is dedicated to people with disabilities. Its year-round programming includes:

  • Trips
  • Dances
  • Bingo parties
  • Nature walks
  • Arts & crafts

Carousel House, located at Belmont Avenue and Avenue of the Republic, gives people with disabilities a chance to socialize, learn, and play. This summer, Carousel House will offer a summer sports camp for people (ages 16+) with disabilities.

National Park Service’s Access Pass is a free lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. The pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges.  

Explore National Park sites in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Team River Runner is a national nonprofit network that offers health and healing for disabled members of the community and others through therapeutic kayaking. The boats, gear, and instruction are free.

Instruction starts out with the basics in a calm river or heated, indoor pool. Team River Runner adapts the instructions to the needs of the individual with a goal of forming a supportive community that enjoys sharing a day of adventure out on the water.

Besides being a fun way to connect with nature and make new friends, kayaking offers people a chance to strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility and coordination, get excited, and clear their heads.


Creative Arts Therapy

The Kardon Center for Creative Arts Therapy at Settlement Music School offers music, art, and dance/movement therapy services to individuals with special needs at Settlement branches (Philly branches are at: 416 Queen St., 4910 Wynnefield Avenue, 3745 Clarendon Avenue, and 6128 Germantown Ave) and at other locations in our community.

Creative Arts Therapy is a form of non-verbal psychotherapy that uses the senses—specifically music, dance, and creative expression—to open new channels of communication between participants and their therapists, families, and communities. While goals for Creative Arts Therapy are tailored to each participant’s needs, benefits may include improved social skills, cognition, language, and physical skills. No previous training is needed to take part.

To learn about the specific offerings at the branches closest to you, contact Mark Bottos, Zausmer Program Director at the Kardon Center for Arts Therapy (Tel: 215.320.2625).


Avoid Sensory Overload

What counts as recreation varies by person. Those who experience sensory overload in many settings may prefer to drop in on a museum that offers special accommodations for them in Philly.

Some of the participating museums include:

  • The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University offers Access to Science events when the museum is open to visitors on the autism spectrum. The next events will be July 14 and August 25. Pre-registration is required, but can be same-day.
  • The Franklin Institute offers tools everyday for people who typically might find it a bit loud, crowded, and bright. Sensory alert maps help guide you through experiences that may involve high levels of sensory stimulation. Sensory backpacks stocked with noise-reducing headphones, sunglasses, fidgets, and weighted toys help reduce sensory stimulation while checking out the exhibits can be borrowed first-come first-served at information desks in the atrium and lobby. Plan your visit for weekday afternoons or evenings, which are less busy.
  • The Please Touch Museum offers Play Without Boundaries days, when the museum offers a more relaxed environment for individuals with autism, learning differences, and other sensory or communication needs. Accommodations include:
    • The museum is closed to the general public, so there are fewer visitors.
    • Low-level lighting and a quieter experience.
    • Tools to enhance your visit, include quiet zones
    • The next Play Without Boundaries events will be July 7, August 4, Sept. 8, October 6, and November 3. Be sure to pre-register.





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