It’s true. My son got a full time job, after working part time for over 3 years. It certainly isn’t his “dream” job, but it may allow him to move out on his own sometime in the future.
The job is working for WalMart, full time, unloading trucks at a WalMart SuperCenter. 2-11 PM 5 days a week. I know, it doesn’t sound glamorous. But it’s better than maintenance. Perhaps not as good as being a flight attendant, but definitely more sensible.
You see, my 25 year old son has Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum and is very intelligent, but has enough significant AS characteristics to make functioning in a highly social world very difficult. He doesn’t read voice intonations or facial expressions or body language as well as the rest of us non-AS folks (I was going to say “normal” but really, who do you know that is “normal?”), so jobs requiring a lot of social interaction become difficult.
He is very smart. He reads incessantly. That’s what makes some of the jobs he’s forced to consider seem very boring. We try to explain that, although he could learn to do other jobs, he would need additional education or training – something he seems loath to do right now. So he doesn’t have all that many alternatives.
My son completed one and a half years of college at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He was in the writing for film and TV program. He was too far away from home. He did not have the support he needed and, at the time he left for school, he did not even have a diagnosis of AS. His primary and secondary schools obviously let us down. He got the diagnosis after his first year of college. He tried to continue but could not. So he dropped out.
He did work full time for a while, but found it difficult at the time. AS is a developmental disability and he had not reached to point of being able to work full time. So after a year or so of starting and not keeping pace with several warehouse jobs on his own, we set out to find assistance. We discovered that the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission had a new program for AS adults. He got a “provider” who provided him with help to locate a part-time job and provided on the job support for the first year. He started working at Kohl’s, unloading trucks, until the store decided to hire an independent firm to unload their trucks and transferred it’s employees to other departments within the store. My son ended up in maintenance because he didn’t want to take a position with a lot of customer contact.
He feels he’s now ready for full time work. He has a new provider. He got a new job at WalMart – unloading trucks. I haven’t decided yet if this is progress. A lot of times, we have to take a wait and see approach.
We will have to notify Social Security that he is attempting to work full time. They have a “ticket to work” program that does not immediately cut of his disability benefits – it allows time to try out a full time position and see if he is successful.
I have heard both positive and negative stories about working at WalMart. I don’t know which to believe. But I am grateful that they are willing to take a chance on a great kid who happens to have his brain wired a little differently than the rest of us.
Our dream is the same as any other parent – we want my son to be able to become more independent. To support himself. To have his own place to live. To find companionship and love. We don’t know how far he can go or what support he will need to get there, but we want him to keep trying. That’s the only way he can keep growing and developing.