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Man with Down syndrome operates restaurant

People in Missouri who have certain ideas about what those with intellectual disabilities are capable of may have those beliefs challenged after learning about a man with Down syndrome who owns his own restaurant. While some people with Down syndrome may not be able to work, this is an interesting account of how, with some accommodations, others may be successful in the workplace.

The man, 27, arrives at his restaurant early in the morning six days a week. As he puts it, he has his breakfast then gets ready for "work mode." From 7:30 to 2, he greets customers at their table, using skills he learned while studying the restaurant business in college and working at places like Applebee's and Red Robin, where business tended to go up when he was there. One way he makes customers feel at home is to give out hugs. The restaurant keeps track of his hugs on a "hug counter" on its website.

It was a dream of his to own a restaurant since he was 13, according to the man's parents. To make that possible, they opened up the restaurant in their name. The business will eventually pass into a trust in the man's name.

Depending on its severity, a person's intellectual disability may leave him or her unable to support him- or herself through work. For those who have little to no work history, the Supplemental Security Income program exists. SSI is a need-based resource, so applicants must qualify financially and have a qualifying disability that prevents them from working for at least 12 months.

Source: ABC News, "Man With Down Syndrome Runs N.M. Restaurant," Abby Ellin, March 4, 2013

· Our law firm helps those affected by disability through the Supplemental Security Income and Social Security disability systems. Please visit our Columbia Social Security disability page for more information.

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