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Fear, Hopelessness and VR: Part III

3. They are not capable. Working with tribal colleges for years, we saw many students who were high school graduates enter college who were testing at the eighth grade level in English and mathematics - and these are the students who had graduated. We have worked with many individuals who began programs at the fourth or sixth-grade level, and sometimes less. People who have low academic skills may be successful within their family and a very limited area because they know everyone's name, how to get places, the time facilities open and close. However, they are not capable of completing a job application, reading a procedure manual or making change. People with limited academic skills have often found very creative ways of hiding their limitation. As one VR counselor said,

"The one I hear all the time is, 'I forgot my reading glasses. Can you read this to me?'. Now, some people, including me, need glasses to read, but very often it is a sign the client has difficulty reading, glasses or no glasses."

If the client is able to improve his or her literacy, that should be an objective in the IPE. Refer the client to an adult literacy program. Work with the client yourself on spelling, making change and other skills needed for the job.

If for some reason you determine the person is limited in literacy, for example, a severe learning disability, and requires strategies for success, identify those with the client. I worked with a brilliant man who could not write any better than the average first-grader. Now, he would have been diagnosed as learning disabled but at the time he attended school there was no such category. So, he graduated from high school, barely, and went to work. For many years, he never worked in any job that required much writing, never applied for any civil service job that required an examination. His career took off when a manager, who wanted to promote this person, demanded to know why he would not take the job as a supervisor. He admitted, "I can't write", and wrote out an order for the manager to prove it. The manager said,

"Look, I don't need you to teach high school English, I need you to supervise a crew of ten men and you're the best man for the job. So here is what we are going to do. When anything needs to be written out, you go to my secretary and you dictate it to her, and she'll type it for you. If a form needs to be filled out, just give it to her and ask her to do it. "

By the end of their careers, both people had risen very high in the corporation. One, because he was really brilliant, good with people and knew his business. By the time he retired, he had a cell phone and his own secretary who he would call and say, "I really don't have time to write this, I'm out in the field, write this memo for me..." and dictate what needed to be written. The manager was also very successful, I think, because his way of identifying the best people to work for him and providing the support they needed got him people who were not only extremely good but also extremely loyal. Just in case anyone is wondering, the secretary ended up promoted pretty high up in the company as well. After all, she did work for the same manager.

Next page, clients who don't want to work

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