October 15, 2023

Stories of Success and Resilience Among Individuals with Developmental Disabilities in the Workplace

Individuals with developmental disabilities have exhibited remarkable determination in their pursuit of success within the workforce. With the support of various resources, many have secured full-time positions, contributing to their personal growth and enhancing their capabilities as valuable employees for businesses. These individuals have played a pivotal role in fostering inclusive workplaces, showcasing their capacity for growth, adaptability in handling diverse tasks and their quest for independence.

The challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic posed particular difficulties for employees with disabilities. However, thanks to dedicated services and the guidance of job coaches, numerous individuals not only confronted these challenges but also flourished in their professional responsibilities.

In the following paragraphs, we delve into the remarkable achievements of individuals who have excelled in their respective fields. While success takes various forms for each individual, their unique journeys towards defining success are explored herein. These stories represent just a fraction of the many individuals with developmental disabilities who have carved a promising path forward, achieving their independent career aspirations.


As an employee of Brann's Steakhouse & Grille in Wyoming, Berdene would bus, do dishes and help clean the dining areas. Berdene's manager, Kirk Blohm, stated that she had a lot of growth while working at the Grille.

"I can see her learning and becoming more independent every day. She used to ask questions but is learning to make judgment calls independently, which is awesome," said Blohm.


Kylie was in a high school transition program. She and her work coordinator had an informational choice conversation about work. With school support, Kylie was interviewed at a salon and was hired for ten hours per weekend. While working over the weekend, she also devoted seven hours to Vocational Rehabilitation Services, which offered valuable coaching and support for her in her new job. This job coaching allowed Kylie to effectively integrate with natural support. When the seven hours of job coaching ended, she became more comfortable and stable in her position.


Darren, a self-sufficient and quick learner, sought employment at UPMC hospital in Pennsylvania and currently works in the culinary department, where he stocks shelves and supports the cooks. Darren's manager views him as an exceptional and valuable employee who has consistently proven to be a significant asset. Darren swiftly mastered various tasks and took on new responsibilities. His manager envisions substantial potential for him to secure a long-term position.


Christina is a part-time dietary aide at Bothwell Hospital in Sedalia, Missouri. She navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and had to adapt her position and support to maintain her employment. Her work conditions and responsibilities underwent significant changes, necessitating her to learn how to adjust.

Prior to the pandemic, Christina worked up to 30 hours a week at the hospital. Just before the pandemic's onset, Kim Anderson, director of employment services at CHS, advocated for local county boards to fund technology that would support remote work. This initiative aimed to empower individuals to work more independently, with job coaches offering in-person support for those transitioning to remote work.

Christina became the first beneficiary of CHS's support, enabling her to switch from in-person to remote work within a day. Over time, Christina gained confidence and proficiency in her role, regularly reaching out to her job coach for assistance and check-ins.

The adoption of innovation, the cultivation of robust partnerships and the establishment of trust, along with the continued utilization of remote support post-COVID-19, have proven highly beneficial for many individuals with developmental disabilities. Fostering inclusivity and bolstering the capabilities of employees with developmental disabilities not only raises awareness among businesses but also strengthens their ties within the community. The presence of natural support leaders for individuals with developmental disabilities not only aids the personal growth of these individuals but also provides businesses with a solid foundation, allowing them to rely on consistent performance.