Hiring An Autistic Person….Do NOT Be Afraid!

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Hiring An Autistic Person….Do NOT Be Afraid!

Hi Friends,
First let me apologize for not posting since November as clearly the Holidays got the best of me, my time and my brain. I am back and ready to rock 2016 on SO many levels some of which I will not be able to share with you until the next few weeks, but rest assure, this Warrior Mom is going to change the world. Yes I said WORLD….or at least go down trying!

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season. WK and I are wishing you all a very very very Happy New Year. Yes I am a bit late on the well wishes but bare with me when I explain what has been going on over here.

Before I get into the topic of “Hiring An Autistic Person” I would like to give you a brief update on WK and his health challenges. It’s so funny because for the most part, I am good with the Autism and the BS that comes with it at this point. I mean heck, I have been dealing with it now for now almost 10 years, however like I have said in the past few posts, it’s the health issues that are plaguing me at this point.

WK is not growing, unfortunately. I mean as in height wise, shoe size, weight wise, everything wise. It really sucks and I am really upset. It is 100% due to the steroids we had to give him in his IV when he was having the monthly IVIG infusions. As a reminder he now has weekly SCIG (Sub Q) infusions every Sunday morning from 730am-1030am versus monthly IV infusions that lasted 6-7 hours. WK hasn’t grown in 2 years. It sucks. It REALLY REALLY sucks. He was always at 90%+ in his growth and weight but unfortunately the steroids have stunted his growth and his blood tests show that he is basically producing 0% of what he needs to be producing in order to grow. So off we are to CHOC (Children’s Hospital of Orange County) in April to figure out what to do. TRUST me, I already know what is coming and that will be DAILY growth hormone shots. Yea…….I am open to ANY tips on how to break this news to WK because although he is a SUPER DUPER STUD when it comes to his monthly blood draws and B12 injections every 3 days, I don’t think he is going to take the daily shots very well. Blech!

Separately from the growth issues, his Private Therapy Team believes (as do I) that he has an Auditory Processing Disorder (ASD) separate of his Autism diagnosis. This basically means that what he hears and how he processes it or lack of processing it are completely messed up. With that said, we have an evaluation in April to determine if he actually has it or not and if he does how we go about trying to help him. Trust me, there is NOTHING in my body that says he doesn’t have it so basically I am just ready to hear what we need to do to help him. I guess this is how Warrior Mom’s live these days??? I am not sad. I am not nervous. Yea sure I am a little pissed off, but I am ALL about getting the party started and moving quickly on how to help him.

Alright-so there you have the “health” updates and the BS (as I like to refer to it as) that we have been dealing with the past few months. On the Autism side of things we are in a good place, coasting and managing the day to day without too many problems. Let me say that in the past I would have found every tiny negative thing to point out, but honestly I am really proud of WK in doing good in school, social skills, sports, music school, and everything for the most part everything else. Autism is NEVER going to define his abilities…which leads me to the “real” topic of this post: Hiring An Autistic Person.

Prior to the Holidays I received a private message on Facebook from someone I have known for 17 years. She is the Wife of my Husband’s Fraternity Brother and someone who has always been nothing but nice and genuine to me. She didn’t have to reach out to me but she did and below is the message I received from her.

Hi WM,

I just wanted to reach out to let you know how awesome you are with everything you are doing. I’m not on FB often but I often read your posts and have been reading your blog.

I wanted you to know because of you, I changed my whole perspective on things and have taught my children to do the same. Instead of sweating the small stuff with my kids, we celebrate the fact that they have been brought into our lives.

Also because of you and bringing awareness, I hired an autistic employee-John, about two years ago. In the beginning, we didn’t know how to train him so I went as far as hiring a special needs teacher to train him and us (the other 50 employees) on how to help John. He is doing awesome and his mom and dad come in often to thank us for giving him the opportunity.

I commend you and admire how hard you work as a parent. I hope this means something to you and know that your voice not only reached me but also the 50 other people John works with.

Hugs
-B

So first let me publicly say to “B” that YOU my FRIEND are simply AMAZING. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for taking a chance on hiring John. Thank you for understanding that yet he is different, he deserved a chance. Thank you for being so amazing and knowledgeable enough to know that the best way to have him succeed was to hire a Coach to help his Co Workers. THANK YOU. Truly.

Today on my “private” Facebook page a Friend of mine shared a video of an Autistic Barista at Starbucks dancing while making coffee. I smiled so big and then I cried. I didn’t cry in sadness. I cried because it was beyond amazing to see a major Corporation like Starbucks take a chance by hiring someone with a disability like Autism. You may love or hate Starbucks and quite frankly I really do not care, however I do care about the fact that someone captured this super happy Autistic guy making coffee, dancing and just stoked on life. Below is the video that I am referring to:

Apparently his name is “Sam.” So Dear Sam: YOU ROCK! YOU ARE A STUD! KEEP DANCING AND YOU CAN MAKE MY COFFEE ANY DAY BUDDY!

There is a HUGE HUGE concern for Parents like me who have children similar to WK’s age because there are not a lot of job opportunities or adult programs to help Autistic people who are 18+ in age. Given the recent stats on the percentage of children being diagnosed with Autism, it’s beyond alarming that we as a Country do not offer better opportunities for those with disabilities, not even just Autism, just disabled in general.

I’ll stop here because the subject of “What Happens When They Grow Up” is something that I am truly scared of and need to write about in a completely separate blog post. I would like to however say that Grocery Store Chains like Trader Joe’s which is the Company that hired John, gets MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR props for being BRAVE, being BOLD and being AMAZING. THANKS TRADER JOES! Thanks to my Friend “B” for taking the chance on hiring John and thanks to his 50+ Co-Workers who treat him with dignity.

Until next time friends, please know how much I appreciate your love and support. My “project” will be more successful if people like you continue to comment and share my Blog with your own Friends. I can assure you with my entire being for this past year (besides caring for WK) I have been spending on brining my “project” to life. Stay tuned! I am JUST getting started.

Warrior Mom

ps-here are a few photos from the holidays

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9 Comments

  1. Avatar Marta says:

    I wish everyone were as happy at work as Sam! WM, I truly believe there is a job out there for all our kiddos. Starbucks seems to have figured out that Autistic people are really good with highly predictable repetitive tasks. There is a place for everyone in our society. WK is going to be great at whatever he decides to do. And I know he will have options because you are a Warrior Mom and will make sure he has any and all opportunities to explore his interests. Dance like Sam and fight on!

  2. Avatar Rachel says:

    I think WK is amazing because of his mother. I’ve heard of companies employing ASD kiddos, not for their communication skills, but for their brilliance. Every ASD child I know possesses brilliance in an area that no one else can touch. Keep the faith. Keep being the best mom you are. I love you and are so proud to be a part of the journey. WK is brilliant, he just has some trouble articulating his thoughts.

  3. Avatar Jenn says:

    I’m sorry to hear there is another injection in WKs future. We have been doing daily GH injections with Nicholas for 14 years so if I can be of any help when you get to that point just let me know. If it makes you feel better, he barely feels it and started doing his own shots at age 12 ((hugs))

  4. Avatar Maryann says:

    Yes! Love this! Can you please talk about maybe the adult autism and police encounters. This is a nightmare of mine daily! Why idk but I fear the day my boy cannot follow direction and the police are not educated or are on high alert due to their challenges. Warrior on mamma.

  5. Avatar Alison says:

    You and WK are amazing! I’m absolutely certain you both WILL change the world! Love you!

  6. Avatar grisel says:

    Hey WM. I really love this blog and I wanted to share an experience that has been lingering on my mind for a few months now and I honestly just didn’t handle it, at all. Mostly because I don’t know how. I had a colleague from the Religious Studies Department reach out to me once who wanted to volunteer with the anti-bullying organization I volunteer with. As we got to know one another we shared personal information and she told me she was mildly autistic and so was her son. I was so impressed with her level of function in social spheres and treated her as an equal because it is just in my nature. However, I fear that I should have been a bit more considerate and treated her with more special attention. One day this colleague told me she felt that the entire department was elitist and exclusive. I disagreed and told her that was not my experience with the faculty but that I can relate to how she feels that way because I have felt that way in other instances. She never mentioned it again but instead went on a very public rant about the department on Facebook and I did not acknowledge it as I did not know what to say after my initial opinion and inability to empathize. Another time she seemed upset that I did not share her same desire to wait in a line for 2 hours to get a book signed and i felt weird when i told her “no thanks, i don’t want to wait in line for that.” Turns out she blocked me completely from all social media (this must have been months ago) and has since dropped out of the program and no one has ever heard from her again. How could I have handled this better? I will not try to repair this at this point. She is a 43 year old woman and I do not want to be invasive of her space within her decision but I want to know what I could have done better in case I am ever faced with this experience again. The thought of her coupling me with that elitist mentality makes me really sad. I loved talking to her on our late lunch breaks and I am so shocked she just dropped us all the way she did. Seeing this post and reading about WK’s struggles really makes me want to provide a more inclusive atmosphere for anyone that is going through it. Makes my heart smile to watch the dancing barista! <3 Makes my heart smile to have you as a friend. Thank you for the awareness.

    • Hi-thank you so much for your support. It means the WORLD to me, you have no idea, especially coming from you. I will say that I am not a licensed Therapist by any means so my opinion is just that, my personal opinion. First do not beat yourself up over this. The most important thing in my opinion is that you are aware enough to realize her differences and try and find a way to change the outcome next time around. That in itself is amazing and if more people acted like this, the world would be a much better place:)

      It is unfair for you to think that you could have changed the outcome here. Cognitive disabilities are difficult at times because you are interacting with someone whose brain isn’t wired correctly. I always give the example that it is like having a working tv where some of the wires may have be crossed, so the picture is a bit fuzzy but the tv still works. See what I mean here?

      I would suggest that if a situation like this ever arises again that you do stand your ground and do not give in to something you really aren’t comfortable with but use the “oreo cookie” effect. The good, the bad with the good. So it could be something like “Hey I really am so glad that we have the chance to work together and I value your opinion so much, however I just cannot commit to the book signing right now and maybe we could hang out or do something else at another time.” I hope this helps to some capacity?

      I know you are far from an elitist and that is why I love you so much. You are GREAT! Much love to you always Friend.

  7. Avatar Alison says:

    This is a great topic that is not discussed enough. Unfortunately our adults (and even high schoolers) need additional support. Thank you for bringing awareness to this.

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