More support needed for adults with intellectual disabilities
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Executive Director of the Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities (JAID), Christine Rodriquez, is calling for consideration to be given to creating a structured association for adults who suffer from intellectual disabilities.
Rodriquez told The Gleaner on Tuesday that a lot of focus was placed on creating programmes for students and the youth, but adults were often left unattended.
"I think the Government has been working well with NGOs (non-governmental organisations) like ourselves, in ensuring that there are viable and effective programmes to cater to young people and students. However, what we don't have is the same network for adults," she said.
"In order to do this, we have to build the association itself, which is only in Kingston, and also place emphasis on volunteerism right across the island. People want the support. We get lots of requests to come all over the country, but when you have a small staff, it is very difficult," Rodriquez told The Gleaner.
She added: "There are some people, even without a programme in place, who have been very generous, but what we need is structure and sustainability. Persons from this group (intellectual disabilities) graduate from schools and go home to look at stones. They get in trouble, they get pregnant and are left unoccupied, so as we approach the new year, we have to figure out how to get it done."
Rodriquez also said measures were being implemented to ensure that there are more sustainable programmes to cater to vulnerable groups.
"We are looking at going into the schools and targeting students in the last two years of their tenure, to look at how we can build their self-determination skills. In addition, we want to create a specific test for them (persons with intellectual disabilities) to get a better understanding of their interests so that they can be properly placed for employment," she said.
"Going forward, our priority is to continue to see how best we can acquire jobs for them and create an environment of inclusion," Rodriquez added.