Leaving Education & What’s Next?
Careers guidance and support for young people with spinal cord injuries should be approached as it would for any young person. However, schools should also recognise that this area may be sensitive for young people if they have had to rethink and re-evaluate previously held goals and expectations about what their future lives would hold.
“Children and young people will be thinking ‘What are my options?’ and they may need to rethink some things and re-evaluate how dreams going to fit. It’s important to promote and tell them there can be a healthy positive image of future.”
Zoe Chevalier, Clinical Psychologist, National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Additionally, while educational outcomes at secondary school level for young people with spinal cord injuries are equal with the rest of the population, employment levels for spinally injured adults are lower. While people with spinal cord injuries may not have lower qualifications, it is harder for them to find and maintain employment. Therefore they may need extra support in thinking about their future career and what support mechanisms, tools, and resources they can use to make it happen.
Some important strategies that may help:
1. Provide positive reflections of life after having a spinal cord injury, including people in relationships, leading healthy lives and in careers.
2. Engage and connect positive role models with students. Contact Back Up Education Inclusion coordinator to get support with linking students to positive role models.
3. Consider connecting a teacher or staff member who has a good relationship with the student so the student has someone to talk to about emotional or difficult issues. Support this teacher to recognise when further assistance may need to be sought.
4. Liaise with the clinical psychology team or community mental health team if you have any concerns about the child’s mental health.
5. Provide information and training on use of assistive technology and equipment that can support independent living and career-related activities.
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