On 3/1/18, my autistic son Luke was placed in a group home. Luke is 25 years old and needed more support than his parents could sustain. I have shared past posts on my blog about Luke and his life. It is no small feat to navigate the Department of Social Services in matters of mental challenges and neurological disabilities.
individuals with disabilities are able to
access basic services in their communities,
including education, work, healthcare, and
Now let me introduce you to my son:
Luke has Autism. He is 20 years old and has only 9 months left in the public school system. Luke is a very loving young man who needs ongoing assistance to function in the world and to communicate. This year the school is attempting to place Luke in a job. Job internship placements are extremely difficult and in some cases lacking. Participation in job exploration in Luke’s past have included working in the library, gardening, recycling, and cleaning tasks. These specially designed activities for Luke are successful only with strong support including a job coach.
Luke has Autism. He is the most precious young man a mother could ask for and yes he needs special help everyday and will need it for the rest of his life. Today I hosted a meeting with a group of individuals all working as a team to assist in Luke transitioning from the school world to the real world. What does a meeting like this look like? As the host, my part is to make sure everyone is on board planning for Luke’s future. Perhaps this may mean developing a personalized work training plan. It also means teaching Luke acceptable worker traits.
Luke has Autism. He will always need 24 hours supervision as Luke can be violent and unpredictable at times. Yet, he is the most precious young man and son a mother could ever ask for and he is worth risking it all for to see him be successful. As his mother, it is important to build relationships with Adult Service Partners as I did today hosting a meeting to facilitate Luke’s adventure into the real world. It is my hope the school will work hard to show Luke a visual representation of work experiences. This means a parent must be a strong advocate.
Luke has Autism. What does success look like for Luke you might ask? First of all it means working with many agencies and coordinating meetings to ensure Luke has success in his future. Today was a day for doing just that. I had folks from Luke’s team meet at my house to discuss possible employment opportunities for Luke. Some of the jobs we brainstormed about included working in a warehouse, or possibly working to clean at a winery. I loved the idea of Luke working in a winery!
Luke has Autism. Who hires someone like Luke? This is a good question. There are not many employers who do. Finding accepting and workable business owners who are willing to go the extra mile to hire someone like my son can be a challenge. For you see Luke can probably only work one hour maybe twice a week. The good news is that Luke wants to work. He talks about it and is excited about it, but he is also nervous and stressed about it in his own way. He realizes his school days are coming to a close rapidly.
Luke has Autism. Luke is worth risking it all for and being there to see him succeed no matter what that success looks like. For now Luke is cleaning school buses, packing lunches, and recycling and carrying out the trash for the school district. It is our hope these jobs at school will translate to gainful employment by the end of the year.
Luke has Autism. He will be the best employee you can ever imagine. It is my hope his future boss will have a great imagination and see what I see. I see success for Luke. This vision is what I hope Luke’s future boss will see and that they see Luke as a great investment. Wouldn’t it be great if all folks with disabilities would be given more opportunities to step into the workforce. This mother knows her son will be a great employee. Why not? He has been an awesome son for 20 years.