This is also the case for the mentally disabled. A mentally disabled person might have a more limited sense of self knowledge or awareness of the resources that are available to them, however it is still critical that career development focus on building self-knowledge and establishing a career goal. Like any member of the population the mentally disabled must be made aware of the resources available to them for development.
Super also asserts that the development of ones abilities and interests is intimately related to ones sense of self-concept, and that a stable career identity often is not established until later in life (Carey, 2004). For the mentally disabled self-concept will grow slowly but will grow nonetheless.
Super recognized that people go through changes as they mature, whether mentally disabled or otherwise. He suggests that socio-economic factors, mental abilities, personal characteristics and opportunities are all factors to which a person is exposed, and are all factors that may influence career choices (Johnson, 2003).
People will generally according to Super seek out work roles where they feel they can express themselves and develop their sense of self-concept (Johnson, 2003). This is the case with the mentally disabled. They have to be placed in a position that will help foster growth and success and help them express themselves in an environment that is comfortable, welcoming and understanding of any limitations they may be facing.
According to Super career maturity occurs over a life span. Self-concept is perhaps the most important aspect of Super's model, which develops through physical and mental growth, identification with other adults, the general work environment and ones experiences (Johnson, 2003). This further emphasizes the need for mentally disabled individuals to have other disabled role models to turn to and gain experience from.
Super suggests that until the age of 15 one goes through a growth phase where they are forming their self-concept and developing their capacity, attitudes and interests, based on their understanding of the world they operate in (Johnson, 2003). Until the age of about 24 most people are exploring and transitioning or trying out different experiences; next they go through the establishment phase where they build their skill level until about the age of 44; next they will maintain and continually adjust to improve their position until finally they decline at about the age of 65 (Johnson, 2003). These stages may vary for the mentally disabled person, an important consideration. It is possible that the mentally disabled person will achieve some of these stages more quickly or remain in one longer than the other.
Career development for the mentally disabled is much like career development for any other person; it is according to Super a life long process.
Vocational development aims at many things including minimization of the potentially adverse impact of a disabling problem "by assisting people with disabilities to secure and maintain employment" (Shahnasarian, 2001).
This can occur only if one embraces a life-span consideration of career development such as that proposed by Super, which suggests that those with disabilities can "embrace client-specific career development" by determining how career related problems can be "alleviated through client specific interventions including motivation, transferring skills to occupations related to an individuals capabilities, planning for change and challenges and adaptation" (Shahnasarian, 2001).
Thus career development for the mentally disabled should incorporate life long learning, understanding of self and specific interventions that work to motivate mentally challenged workers and help them acquire skills and adapt to challenges in their work environment. Also important as Super noted is the existence of suitable role models for the mentally disabled employee to succeed.
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