Written by Mark Koning
We all have our special talents in life; things that we are good at. Some people have these skills from the day that they are born; others acquire them at later stages in their life. We all grow and learn through school and our experiences. All experiences! So yes, I say some of these abilities that we come to own are born out of our acquired injuries. Everyone’s injury is different, and therefore, so too are their abilities.
Is there always going to be a guarantee that new developed skills will rise from the ashes of tragedy? Not necessarily. Sometimes there is simply a return to pre-injury talents; sometimes there are losses. But believe it or not, sometimes there are improvements.
My best example of this is me and my experience with my own brain injury. However, since the viral infection that stormed into my brain and gave me my injury occurred back when I was six years old, it is hard for me to determine if any of my well developed skills are new. But in a way, I do believe that a lot of my abilities are because of my brain injury.
Imagine that, abilities because of a disability.
- To help with my memory I am cognizant of taking detailed notes, staying focused, and keeping things organized.
- I have a strong work ethic because I see importance behind every task that needs to get done.
- I am more aware of what I am doing and therefore do not take anything for granted.
- I see the value in life and therefore keep an open mind to any given situation.
- I am patient and I hope for the same in return.
I have many other skills under my belt, but these are some of the key ones that I feel my injury and lived experience through it, have brought forth.
Having worked for three years as an Administrative Coordinator for a not-for-profit organization that advocated on behalf of job seekers with disabilities to employers, I can also share with you these facts:
**A US Chamber of Commerce study revealed that workers with disabilities had an 80% lower turnover rate.
**Studies show that on the average, individuals with disabilities have better attendance rates than their non-disabled counterparts.
**A current study recently completed by the DuPont Company support the findings that workers with disabilities performed significantly higher than their counterparts without disabilities in the area of safety. These studies included people in professional, technical, managerial, operational, labor, clerical, and service areas.
**More often than not, the worker with a disability brings additional diversity into the workplace. For example: Someone who has a learning disability may develop a filing system based on colors in addition to words that increases efficiency and ease of use.
**Myths about Hiring Persons with Disabilities – http://www.onevoicenetwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Myth-Busters-ENG.pdf
Many people, including family, friends, colleagues, employers, even survivors, tend to focus on the loss that follows brain injury. There is loss, I am not going to say otherwise; for some more so than others. Like I referred to above, all individuals and the extent of their brain injury is different. And for most survivors there is often a need to work a little extra hard; hard at recovery; hard at keeping up; hard at life in general. But focusing on only the loss is pointless. Focusing on the recovery, the drive, and the gain, that is what’s important. Because just as there is loss, there is also gain.