Have you ever seen a “help wanted” ad like this? I definitely have not, not even once in the many years I have spent perusing classified ads. But one day soon, and I hope this comes in my child’s lifetime, I certainly hope that someone somewhere will give my son and all individuals of special abilities this chance at marking their place in the world.
Employment. The dreaded E word. With our children growing fast into teens and adults and their parents growing old, we start to look forward to the future, and sadly, see little opportunities for professional or occupational growth for them. We spend our lives helping them learn and grow and thrive, only to find another seemingly insurmountable wall facing them. How many employers will take a chance on capable individuals who are judged solely based on diagnosis? How many businesses will risk the bottom line to wade into previously unknown waters?
Not very many.
True, individuals with autism fill the whole spectrum of abilities and dis-abilities, and as such, are not able to fit in typical workplaces. Yet, when one thinks of it, what must seem like a limitation in some settings may actually work in others. For example, your child’s rigidity and adherence to structure may work in some settings where rules are absolute and nonnegotiable; his obsessive eye for details may be a highly desirable attribute in work places that value a keen eye. Sometimes, too, his lack of social connectivity may be advantageous in work that virtually isolates the individual and his fixation and fascination for specific things or issues may make him a veritable expert in the subject. Most importantly, however, many of our children possess distinct virtues that, in an ideal world, would be highly coveted- honesty (they do not lie or steal) and dependability being two of them.
As parents, caretakers, and teachers of our children, it is up to us to empower them with appropriate education, job matching, training, and support. It is up to us to set up the infrastructure that will enable them to become self-sustaining individuals, be it through employment or through entrepreneurship. It becomes our task, also, to educate employers and to assist them with mentoring our children. The key is to do so with an open, honest heart.
Only when we start to see past limitations and disabilities are we able to look forward to a future of a million possibilities.
Find out more what the future holds for your child in “Workers and Entrepreneurs for Autism,” Professor Archie David’s lecture on Day Two of the 11th National Conference on Autism. As founder and executive director of the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) , Teacher Archie’s expertise in Occupational Therapy has helped shaped children’s lives through training and vocation.
Hurry and register now! Early Bird Rates have been extended until October 16, 2009.