Where a dad of two great kids (one on the autism spectrum) muses about life.
Friday, March 2, 2007
I've written before about "Little Hurts". Well today I get to report on the other side of the coin, the small victories.
I work in a department of about 100 people. Our offices are in several different buildings spread over 4 or 5 city blocks. About two years ago or so, our department was approached by a local agency that helps support disabled people in finding (and keeping) jobs. Up until this time each individual section tasked someone to interface with the campus mail system. When this agency approached our office manager to inquire whether we could use anyone, she decided that she could free up secretarial time (which we needed to do) and create an internal mail distribution person for our department.
Susan (our office manager) doesn't have kids of her own. She is a perfect employee, always knowing exactly how to get things done, never complaining, and being very efficient in getting the best out of others. Some of the secretaries think she expects too much, but I've always thought she did a great job.
Susan hired Michael thru this agency. He is paid a normal salary for this position. And he is quite obviously autistic. His gait is a little off, he rarely makes eye contact, and he doesn't say much. Michael is about 18-20 years old, and lives with his parents. The agency supported Michael by sending a "coach" with him for the first few weeks who worked very closely with Susan and Michael to get him trained. Now the coach comes periodically to check on him, and more often if there are particular problems that we need him to help us with.
I've seen Susan reading things about autism on the web, so as to try and understand how best to work with Michael. She has been as instrumental in Michael being successful in his position as the agency that placed him.
Now for the really good part...
I was walking thru the department today, and I look up at the wall where there is a framed certificate on the wall announcing the "Employee of the Quarter".
MICHAEL IS THE EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER!!!!
I was so happy I almost cried. The employee of the quarter doesn't get much. You get the certificate, bragging rights, and I think you get a small token gift. The award is voted on by all the members of the department every quarter.
So it isn't that it's such a big thing. But to me it's HUGE. A young adult autistic who just as easily could have been cast aside is not just "tolerated" by the people in our department. He has been accepted. And supported. And I just had to share that.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.