About Huntington's Disease
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is, at present, no treatment to slow the progression of symptoms and no cure. Most individuals with HD begin to exhibit symptoms between the ages of 30 to 50, and are likely to be employed when first diagnosed. As this genetic disease progresses, it will affect cognitive, motor, and behavioral functioning.
Motor issues often include involuntary movements, difficulty with speech and swallowing, lack of coordination, and fatigue and weakness. Many cognitive functions become limited, such as memory, decision making, critical thinking, multitasking and concentration. Behavioral issues include anxiety, depression, mood swings, and stress intolerance, as well as irritability and impulsivity.
Huntington's Disease and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Accommodating Employees with Huntington's Disease
People with Huntington's disease may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with Huntington's disease will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Huntington's Disease
Consultants' Corner Articles
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