October has been National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and throughout the month, you have heard stories about adults in the workforce who live with SMA. We are pleased to share another story about Steven Verdile of New York.

Toward the end of high school, Steven Verdile faced a reality many young adults have experienced: he dreamed of pursuing a career but knew little about the field of study. Steven’s career of choice was graphic design.

“As I learned more about graphic design through my first semesters in school, I became really passionate about the path I was taking and was excited to join the field,” Steven said. In 2018, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design from St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. Now, at 22 years old, Steven is a graphic designer at NBCUniversal in New York City, working in the bustling center of Times Square.

“Having the opportunity to produce creative material that could be seen on-air by thousands of people is an aspect of my job that I find rewarding,” Steven says. “Plus, as an avid art and entertainment lover, it’s a great opportunity. I really have a lot of fun working with people from so many different exciting industries.”

However, the location of his job presents challenges. This is because, as a newborn, Steven was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

“Transportation for someone with a disability is less accessible, and I rely on others for daily assistance, so just getting to work can be challenging.. And, with my health not completely stable, it took time to learn the best ways to combat obstacles, he said. “I’m happy to say that after 4 years of college and 2 years of working, I’ve created a lifestyle structure that is comfortable, reliable, and allows me to stay focused on doing my best work.”

When it comes to productivity and work ethic, Steven takes pride in being efficient and dependable. He acknowledges that SMA can make some goals more difficult to achieve but doesn’t see that as a deterrent.

“If you can demonstrate quickly how valuable you are, any reasonable employer will do their best to help you succeed,” Steven said.

Steven credits organization and the use of technology – like apps to manage tasks, calendars, etc. – to his success in his day-to-day work process. While creative fields can be difficult to navigate, Steven has some advice for anyone who’s curious to join the industry.

“Consume as much art as you can and be mindful in doing so. From seeing all the incredible work that others are doing, you’ll absorb their ideas, learn technique, and start shaping your tastes and passions, which is ultimately what will drive your own voice and work,” he said.

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 19.1 percent of adults with disabilities were employed. For Steven, a sense of duty and unity in the workplace is beneficial for everyone.

“It is not only in our own best interests to be great employees, but it also makes it far more likely that our coworkers will be happy and accommodating to the next disabled individual they work with. Any small career achievement is not just an achievement for the individual with a disability, but it’s a success for the disability community as a whole,” concluded Steven.

Are you a teen and adult in the SMA community and would like to receive a Teen and Adult Support Package at no cost? Click here for more information.