Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Marie O'Donovan from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Marie O'Donovan

Environmental Officer

CRH plc

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  Marie O'Donovan

You should possibly consider studying environmental science or environmental engineering in third level.

You would also need to consider if you would like do quite a bit of driving during your day and to be able to oragnise your own work plans as both these things are important.

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Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be drawn towards the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
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Cerebral Palsy
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Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a general term covering a number of neurological conditions that affect movement and coordination. Neurological conditions affect the brain and nervous system. Cerebral Palsy is caused by damage to the brain, which normally occurs before, during or soon after birth.

There are several different types of CP. The main categories are defined according to which messages are jumbled - brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing and thinking.

Types of CP include spastic, athetoid, ataxic,and also mixed: 

  • Spastic CP affects the muscles and joints
  • Athetoid CP results in involuntary movements as muscles tense and relax. There can often also be difficulty controling movements for breathing nad speech. Hearing may also be affected.
  • Ataxic CP - the whole body is affected, in particular balance and co-ordination.

It is estimated that 1 in 400 students are affected by CP and there is a huge variation in the manner in which cerebral palsy affects each individual. 

IMPACT ON LEARNING SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT

The effects of CP vary from individual to individual. Some people appear to have no obvious effects while others may be non-speaking or may use mobility devices and personal attendants to assist them with daily living.

Depending on which areas of the brain have been injured, one or more of the following may occur:

  • muscle tightness or spasm

  • involuntary movement

  • difficulty with gross motor skills such as walking or running

  • difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing and speaking

  • abnormal perception and sensation

The main effect of CP is difficulty in movement, but other parts of the brain can also be affected, resulting in sight, hearing, perception and learning difficulties.Some people are also affected by epilepsy. Mental abilities may not be impaired at all.

Students with CP may experience:

  • Difficulty distinguishing shapes (A problem of visual perception rather than eyesight)
  • Learning difficulties that are sometimes related to a specific activity such as reading, drawing or maths
  • Communication difficulties (including social mixing difficulties)
  • Difficulties in processing and in ordering information
  • Spatial and perceptual difficulties.

Learning Strategies and Supports 

Cerebral Palsy affects the part of the brain which controls movement and posture. In some cases, it also affects speech and /or sight.

Students with CP may require the support of an occupational therapist. The occupational therapist's recommendations are shared with the mainstream class teacher. As cerebral palsy affects muscle control, students with cerebral palsy in an academic setting, may require:

  • The support of an SNA
  • Use of assistive technology to cope with the written demands of the school curriculum
  • Handouts of class materials
  • Help with copying materials from the board
  • Extra time for specific tasks and in examination conditions
  • Large print/audio text books
  • To being given rest breaks if required
  • Specialised equipment may also be necessary such as adapted keyboards, page turners, word boards or special desk
  • If writing is difficult consider using a tape recorder
  • As students tend to become distracted quite easily minimise distractions in the classroom/study environment
  • Where the person with CP is a wheelchair user, where possible place yourself at their eyelevel when talking to them
  • Table-type desks with adequate leg space will need to be considered if the student has a wheelchair. The board in the classroom may have to be lowered if the student is in a wheelchair
  • Use easels, portable reading racks or adjustable desks to facilitate students’ reading

Supports available

At Primary Level Education:

[To be added]

At Second Level Education:

Post-primary students with special educational needs may attend a mainstream post-primary school. They may be in mainstream classes with the support of a learning support/resource teacher and/or the care support of a special needs assistant or may be in a special class.

A school may apply for a grant to make the school accessible for a student with a disability, for example, to put in a ramp or accessible toilet accommodation. Information about this provision can be obtained from the Building Unit of the Department of Education and Skills – see 'How to apply' below.

The following support services are available for students with disabilities and special educational needs attending post-primary schools:

  • Resource teaching
  • Special needs assistants
  • Equipment grants

Resource teachers are allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). If a student had additional teaching support in primary school, a formal assessment or diagnosis will now be required by the post-primary school when it applies for additional resource teaching for the student.

Reasonable Accommodations at the Certificate Examinations (RACE)

The Race scheme aims to assist students who are at a disadvantage due to a disability, by facilitating access to the state certificate examinations. The scheme has been the subject of much discussion and controversy in recent months and is currently undergoing changes.

Details of the revised 2017 scheme of reasonable accommodations will be available here on the State Examinations Commission website soon.

At Third Level Education:

Cerebral Palsy is one of the Physical Disabilities covered under the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) system.

Details of the DARE screening criteria for applicants with CP are available here

In the Workplace

Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups.  Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.

Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant (WEAG)

If you are a person with a disability who has been offered employment or are in employment, and require a more accessible workplace or adapted equipment to do your job, you or your employer may be able to get a grant towards the costs of adapting premises or equipment. Details of WEAG grants available and how to apply are available here.

Impact on Career Choice

Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.

Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.

People with CP are found in many different careers and work roles, from occupational, speech and physio therapy, to the hospitality sector, and as carers, key workers or social workers, early childhood teachers, and psychologists - the opportunities are wide and varied.

Famous People with Cerebral Palsy

Irish writer and poet Christoper Nolan; Irish Author, painter, poet Christy Browne; US Artist, Dan Keplinger; Australian author and activist Anne McDonald.


Disability Access Route to Education
Higher Education Access Route
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