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Starting a New Job: The Social and Emotional Experience of People with Intellectual Disabilities

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Employment is viewed by policy makers as both a human right and as a means of changing the marginalized status of people with intellectual disabilities, with important social and emotional benefits. However, there has been little longitudinal research examining the experience of people with intellectual disabilities in the workplace. Methods 

Thirty-five individuals with mild to borderline intellectual disabilities participated in this study. They were recruited from supported employment agencies in Scotland. A longitudinal approach was adopted, with the participants being interviewed around the time of starting their jobs, and again 9–12 months later. Results 

The content analyses of the semi-structured interviews indicated that the participants perceived continuing benefits from entering mainstream employment, including more purposeful lives and increased social status. However, over the follow-up period the participants reported few social opportunities that extended beyond the workplace, and an anxiety about their competence to meet employers’ demands remained a concern for some. Conclusions 

The discussion addresses the importance of understanding work in relation to the participants’ wider lives, along with the longer-term role for supported employment agencies to help people achieve their social and emotional goals in a vocational context.
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Keywords: emotions; inclusion; intellectual disability; supported employment; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Section of Psychological Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK 2: School of Health Nursing and Midwifery, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, UK 3: Institute for Health Research, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK 4: Strathclyde Centre of Disability Research, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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