Stories about Accommodations in the Workplace after Brain Injury
The following are stories are about accommodations int he workplace from real life survivors of brain injury . Clicking on the titles will take you to their actual story.
Gina’s boss made accommodations for to come back to work: “I was extremely tired. When I started back at work, my boss had said just come back for an hour and just see how you do and the first month I worked two hours a day, three days a week. That’s all I could handle. He was perfectly fine with that and just said, you know, he retrained me, said you’re doing better every time. I basically, he’s, he listened in on every conversation I had, had me do absolutely no changes, no quoting. Before I did anything with anybody’s file, it’s sit down and tell me what they want, what you’re doing, how you’re going to do it and I did okay. Like I said, I think he probably had to correct me a couple of times but he kept me going and kept saying, you know you’re improving, you’re not going to give up because you’re going to lay on the couch and die. Obviously he knows me better than I thought. I’d go in for those two hours. He had me come in between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 because those are the slowest times of the day and if I wasn’t working, he was going through and re-teaching me everything. I did not get back to my hours that I’ve got now for a full two years. He just, we just kept working into it.
Gina explains that she gets tired as the week goes on;”What my boss does understand and still allows is I get tired and as the week goes on, I get more and more tired so he will let me either take longer breaks or come in a little bit later. I can call him and, in the morning, and say, I’ve got a migraine and he lets me come in. I’ll take the Imitrex or whatever I need to take and let’s me come in at 10:30, 11:00 whenever I’m feeling better and I, my pay is not docked.” From a life threatening skull fracture â€“ to two hours a day, to nearly full time work. How much of a sense of gratitude does Gina have for the boss who gave her the opportunity to work again? Gina comments; “It’s immense. I will never leave there. I will never, ever ,“ I tell everybody that it is him, that made me come back to work, made me not quit. The support was just phenomenal compared to and I should say and I’ve got a lot of comparisons.”
Gina has had a good result, a remarkable success in returning to a job that would derail most comparably injured people. But despite mistakes that were made in her early care, she got to where she is today because of commitment, her commitment to adapting, her husbands commitment to being patient. But key was the extraordinary commitment of her boss in believing that the Gina he knew, relied on, trusted, would return.
It is clear that but for the commitment of his friend to find him work it would have taken him a much longer time to get reemployed. More significantly, had he not had someone really committed to helping when he walked into the office, he likely wouldn’t have survived. Jeremiah explains: “No I don’t believe I would have survived. I think I would’ve given it my best but no, I don’t think I would have.” Where were the problems that came up that a dedicated and committed advocate in your corner made a difference?: “Well of course just the speed of work ability. If they, if they wouldn’t have advocated that it’s going to take me time to develop my processing ability again, then it would’ve been the speed of my, my work would’ve. Although in my contract, I was told I would receive a raise after three months depending on how I was doing. I was doing enough that I got a raise, not without my own difficulties because like I said, I had a contract agency to pay my the workplace to deal with some of your limitations?: “I had a woman from the UW Madison came down to determine some of the things. What I had to have was a recorder for phone calls, so I could remember what I said. It was hard for me to tell you what I had to, because it’s hard for me to remember other than that. That was the primary thing, difficulty at the workplace. I think the reason I needed such minimal things beyond that, other than a nice chair to sit in and such and things that are special in that respect, were that everybody was such good people there – very nice people to work with. They were all very generous people in that firm.
“My parents worked with my former place of employment as soon as I was in the hospital. And as soon as I started getting better, my supervisor worked directly with my parents to try to get me back in. So I know that once I was able to walk – maybe not even walk real well – someone, and it wasn’t my parents, someone drove me to my prior place of employment. And I went for like ten minutes, an hour, you know, just built up until I could put in a full day, and then they hired me back and had me work for a full day.”
“The last job I worked at was here in Fond du Lac was at Best Buy. And they were very accommodating actually. They would say okay, Mike, this is what we need you to do and just walk away. And usually after 10, 20 minutes I’d figure out how to do it just fine.” Did you have some effort at accommodation when you got hired by Best Buy so they gave you some special opportunities to do it your way?: “At that time when I was working at Best Buy I was working through DVR. Me and DVR and the person that was helping me through one of the ” because they contract out ” who that was helping me, we actually sat down of what I needed. She would actually sit down with me and she would sit down (with Best Buy) “Here’s how to work with Mike. You just give him what you want him to do and then walk away. Come back and check on him in half an hour.” Have you had a problem interfacing with supervision if they didn’t accommodate the different pace at which you learn?: “It has been a huge problem.” Examples?: “Let’s see, the one who was actually the most accommodating place I guess was the government, even when I was in school and the professors that I had, they were very accommodating. The places that weren’t, like I said, they had a manual, this is how they wanted you to do it, and the order that they wanted you to do it in, and you could deviate from that order. And when I started to figure out how to do it my own way, which was just as good, probably even, for me it was a lot quicker, they started having definite problems because I wasn’t following the prescribed (procedure).
Another area that is necessary for any employee to have some ability is to make judgments, make simple work related decisions, avoid hazards and take appropriate precautions. Did you have problems with that?: “The only one that I have a hard time with accommodations was Big Lots. They didn’t, they had a hard time accommodating me, like letting me sit, wanting me to, having my cane there if I needed it. And that probably pushed me to the issue of the quitting there.”
You’ve worked with Steven and obviously care about Steven, what efforts to accommodate his disabilities were you able to do in the, at the Technology Center?: “Well, we can always change up our training, our instructor. We try, we can teach them different ways to do things and, and then, sometimes we just have to make them understand there’s certain things in a job you’re not going to be able to do. And, so don’t attempt them, don’t aggravate what you’ve got, focus on the things that you can do.” How difficult is it as an administrator to convince the instructors that they have to make a complete exception for a given person because of a disability?: “It’s not unusual for us to make exceptions because we’re paced training but an instructor can’t spend all day with one student when they’ve got 20 students back there. They have to, you know, they teach to the group. You hope that most everybody can pick up and do what’s assigned but there’s time that occasionally instructor has to kind of break off and work. And Steven demanded time. Sometimes he would request more time simply because he couldn’t pick up on things sometimes or physically he couldn’t do things.” One of the criteria for Social Security Disability is the inability to work in a work environment without distracting other coworkers. Is that an area that you think it would be difficult to accommodate him? Absolutely. When they had the hearing I told him, I said Steven won’t work anywhere directly under a supervisor. If the supervisor says something cross to Steven he will probably wind up getting fired.