Helping your loved one be a good employee starts at home

Man with a disability behind the counter of a bakery

People with disabilities represent a huge population of potential workers, and yet they are consistently underemployed. But at AbleLight, we believe people of all abilities should be able to pursue their passions and engage in meaningful, competitive employment. And while there are plenty of resources available in local communities (more on that later), there are also things you can do as a parent or guardian to ensure your loved one will be ready to land a great gig and become an invaluable contributor.

To help you get started, we reached out to Cody Kriewald, a job coach here at AbleLight, to get some tips for how you and your loved one can prepare for meaningful, integrated employment.

Start earlier than you think

“Don’t wait until you’re filling out job applications to start working on employability skills,” says Cody. “A lot of the skills employers are looking for are skills that can and should be taught from a young age.”

Which leads us to our next point …

Focus on soft skills

Many times, the technical aspects of a job will be taught on the clock, whether it’s operating a dishwasher or running a computer program. But soft skills are incredibly important in the marketplace and—best of all—they’re things you can practice at home.

Soft skills include things like collaboration, communication, dependability and time management (to name a few). Consistently emphasizing their importance and providing positive reinforcement can go a long way toward ingraining these behaviors, which will benefit you and your loved one both on and off the job.

Explain the why

According to Cody, practicing behaviors is half the equation. The other half? Talking about them! “It’s important to teach these skills,” says Cody. “But it’s equally important to teach why the skills matter.” So while you’re practicing, make sure to clearly draw the connection between working on the skill and how it will link to the job.


It’s true that people with disabilities can face additional challenges when it comes to getting gainful employment. But the challenges will only be insurmountable if you let them be.

“Raise your child to believe they can work someday and be great at it,” says Cody. “It’s okay to have doubts, but believe in your child and keep employment the goal for them the same as you would for any other child.”

Get help

AbleLight offers employment services in Wisconsin and Colorado, with plans to expand these services into other areas. But there’s no shortage of resources to help you. If you’re an employer, someone looking for a job or a family member of someone looking for a job, download our free resource, Hiring People with Disabilities: A Guide to Getting Started, which includes resources for employers and job-seekers alike.