A satisfying work life is as important to someone with multiple sclerosis as it is to anyone. But if you have MS, finding work that matches your skills, interests, and abilities can be especially challenging.
State government agencies and health care facilities offer vocational rehabilitation services and evaluation to help you find the right job or keep an existing one.
Managing your life with MS isn't just about dealing with the symptoms you have right now. It's about thinking through what could happen in future -- the possible effects on your job, family, and finances -- and preparing for them.
Even if your symptoms are mild, planning can make you feel better and be more confident in your future.
"It's not bad luck to think about what you might do if your symptoms got worse," says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, a clinical psychologist and vice president of clinical care...
Vocational evaluation and rehabilitation can help you find a job that matches your skills and abilities. Vocational evaluation tests your transferable skills to assess your aptitudes, vocational interests, and strengths and limitations. This evaluation also measures your general abilities and specific needs and interests. OASYS, a computer database of thousands of jobs, is sometimes used to match jobs with your past work history and current physical and mental capabilities.
Part of vocational rehabilitation is career exploration, which introduces you to the many resources available for making career choices. You can:
Review labor market data
Clarify your aptitudes and abilities
Research career interests
Identify occupational preferences
Define vocational goals
A vocational rehabilitation counselor provides support and guidance throughout the decision-making process.
Can I Get Help With Work-Related Issues?
Individual and group counseling helps you cope with issues related to returning to work, including:
Adjustment to disability
Fear of injury
Fear of change
Clarification of functional limitations
Factors affecting motivation and benefits of working
Employer and worker expectations
Resume and cover letter writing
Job accommodations (American Disabilities Act)
How Do I Determine if my New Workplace Is Safe?
A counselor can observe you at work while performing specific job duties to determine if you can safely perform a job. The counselor may then recommend modifying job duties or the work site to improve safety.
What Is Job Coaching?
For those with severe disabilities, job coaching is often performed with support from community agencies. Some workers require assistance on the job to learn procedures, organize and prioritize tasks, and meet productivity standards. A job coach works closely with the worker to set up job duties in an effective way, based on the worker's overall vocational strengths and limitations.