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Making Work Work

Does Parkinson's impact my job? Yes.

However, there are accommodations that can easily be implemented to ease the stress and strain of anyone's busy day at work or home.

Here are my top suggestions.


1) Work with great people. The selfie of me and my colleagues at the West Bend School District looks like we are having fun. Both Erik Olson, Superintendent, and Jeanne-marie Ciriacks, Chief Academic Officer, are responsible for creating a stimulating work environment. Hard thinking is a good thing. Because who you work with is not always under your control, make sure you enjoy every day.

2. Know your limits. I know that when I have late meetings I need to rearrange my work day. The accommodation may be coming in late so my day is 8-9 hours long versus 10-12 hours long. My secret weapon is my assistant, Joan, who helps me arrange appointments and work tasks. This strategy is not always possible, so move on to # 3. I also take an afternoon break around 3 pm because that is when my body tells me I need to. I eat lunch on the run, so my daily schedule is consistently busy. For my break, I usually read and have a snack. The 15 minutes of quiet time allows me to regroup.

3. Rely on the Human Resources department. While my assistant and secret weapon, Joan, knew about my diagnosis from the start, I did inform our HR department much later when I needed to implement accommodations. That was about two years after my diagnosis when I was having challenges with typing long documents. I requested a word-to-text program that allowed me the option of resting my fingers.. I continue to use that system sparingly because typing is also good exercise.

4.Find or ask for accommodations. As the Director of Pupil Services, I am responsible for making sure that students have the necessary accommodations to be successful in school. My knowledge and expertise in this area certainly gave me an advantage, but some of the strategies are common sense. For example, fat pens. It is much easier to grip a fat pen to write and they are readily available.

5. Advocate for yourself. None of us want to be known as the person with Parkinson's, so make sure your colleagues know that. Some colleagues are wary of adding work to your responsibilities, so remind your colleagues that you are capable. I know this can be a critical conversation, but you control what people know and how they treat you.

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