DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Willing in Wheeling, W.Va," I just about cried. She's the young woman who's in love with "Cyrus," the man who can't work because he has a seizure disorder.
Every state has a department or division of vocational rehabilitation. These state agencies help individuals with disabilities to become gainfully employed. A rehabilitation counselor will assist Cyrus to identify his strengths and abilities and help him determine if working is an option for him at this time. If working is an option, the counselor can assist him in getting appropriate training, job placement assistance and help with accommodations on the job.
Many people with disabilities can work given the proper guidance, training and a supportive employer. -- REHABILITATION COUNSELOR IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR COUNSELOR: My experts tell me that employees with disabilities tend to have attendance records that are as good as people without disabilities. Perhaps they are more determined to prove themselves. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: If that girl really loves Cyrus, what her friends say shouldn't matter. My husband has the same problem. If you love someone, you love him for strengths and weaknesses. I married my husband for his love, not what my friends thought about him. -- CRYSTAL IN ALAMOGORDO, N.M.
DEAR CRYSTAL: You are obviously a mature adult who knows what she wants and what's important. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: It isn't easy being in Cyrus' place. I should know; I live it day in and day out. I have a condition called epilepsy, and if I let it, it would take over my life. I was born with it but was not diagnosed until I was 10. I am fortunate that my seizures are not as frequent, but it does limit my options.
"Willing" sounds like a wonderful person. She's what Cyrus needs to get through a life of frustration. Medications can control seizures, and science is coming up with new innovations every day. Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great were epileptics, and it didn't deter them from finding their places in history.
Please tell "Willing" to follow her heart. It may be hard, but it can also be worthwhile. -- JENNIFER IN CASTLE ROCK, COLO.
DEAR JENNIFER: Thank you for mentioning that epileptic seizures can be controlled with medications (although it was unclear from "Willing's" letter what the cause of Cyrus' seizures was). I spoke with Peter Van Haverbeke of the national office of the Epilepsy Foundation in Landover, Md. Here's what he had to say:
"The future for people with epilepsy is much better than many people think. New medications, surgical options, an implantable electrical stimulation device and even a unique high-fat diet now treat people who couldn't be helped before. If Cyrus isn't under the care of an epilepsy specialist, seeing one now might reduce, or perhaps even eliminate, his seizures.
"Unemployment is the No. 1 non-medical problem for people with epilepsy. Checking out the state's vocational services is a good place to start. Most local epilepsy foundations can also provide information about these and other available employment services. Your readers can get the address for the nearest epilepsy foundation by calling 1-800-332-1000 or online at www.epilepsyfoundation.org."
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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