We were recently asked a common question that is difficult to answer: Which jobs are best for people experiencing aphasia? The person was unable to do their previous job and needed to find alternative employment.

This is a common problem for people experiencing aphasia, but this question is difficult to answer because of the individual nature of aphasia. Depending on the severity and type of aphasia, certain jobs may be more realistic than others. And then, like all job searches, talents, skill sets, and interests may vary. Employment decisions after aphasia are just as personal and varied as career advice without aphasia.

job search with aphasia
Image: Seth Werkheiser via Flickr via Creative Commons license

Still, we realized that many brains are better than a few, and pooling our collective knowledge and creativity may help to generate work ideas for others. So if you are currently working or can see a path forward toward a job in the future, weigh in with your words of advice.

Our starting points?

Examine Your Hobbies

Look at your hobbies and consider whether any of them can be turned into a job, For instance, you may knit as a hobby, but many yarn stores are looking for employees to help with one-on-one lessons or you may be able to get work doing custom knitting projects for people who have an idea for an item they want but lack the skills to make it.

Use Your Strengths

Take a skills assessment over the course of a week. There are dozens of things you do on a daily basis that would be beneficial for certain jobs. For instance, maybe you are extremely friendly and you excel at connecting with others. If that’s the case, look for a job in a service industry, such as being a salesperson. What if you discover that your favourite part of the day is a walk with your dog and that you love spending time with animals? Consider offering up your services as a pet sitter.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how your strengths translate into a job, sit down with a friend or family member and brainstorm together using your skills list. Sometimes putting more brains together working on the problem jump starts the creativity.

Spark Joy

Similar to taking a skills assessment, look at what makes you happy during your day. Maybe your best moments are when you’re helping another person, and you can get a job helping others with aphasia, using your unique experience to connect. Maybe your best moments are when you’re checking items off your to-do list. Other people could benefit from having you do that work as their personal assistant.

Yes, work is called work and not play, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do something you love.

Suggest Assistance

You may still be able to do your old position with a bit of assistance. Rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater, add an extra person to help fill the gaps. Which means that you need to ask what accomodations can be made rather than assuming the answer is none. Some workplaces would rather add an assistant who can help with some tasks rather than replace a valued worker when they can still do portions of their original job. Remember, all of your intelligence and knowledge is still there; you’re just having trouble communicating it.

Look at Part Time Work

Fatigue may be an issue, and your therapy schedule may dictate how many hours you can dedicate to work. Start small and work your way up to more hours rather than trying to handle your old schedule. Look at ten hours as being better than no hours rather than focusing on the fact that you’re not yet at forty hours. Work is work, whether you’re doing it part time or full time.

Volunteer to Keep Skills Fresh (or Add New Ones!)

While you’re recovering, volunteer to keep using your skills. This will not only give you a focus for your day, but it will help with your resume down the road since you can list all volunteer work. Think about organizations that could benefit from a second set of hands, especially ones that could use your unique life experience and skill set.

Take Your Time

Your heart may be ready to work long before your body and mind are ready to jump aboard, too. Be kind to yourself so you can continue to heal. There are no extra points in life for diving back into work quickly, and doing so may actually keep you from getting better. So take your time and listen to your health professionals.

You know better than anyone that life changes. That how things look today is not how things will look tomorrow. If your goal is to return to meaningful work, either for financial reasons or to fill an emotional need, take it slowly and be open to possibilities.

We’d love to hear YOUR work stories. Do you have employment frustrations to vent? Suggestions for work? A job off the beaten path you think others should consider? Let us know in the comment section or on Facebook.