Vocational research on special populations shows that young adults with disabilities that hold paid employment by age 18 have a much greater chance of being employed as an adult. With this in mind, even though it was a stretch goal for Jackson, he signed up to be a part of our community’s Goodwill summer jobs program. This has been very exciting on many levels.
First Steps toward Independent Work
As this website’s stated goal is to help Jackson become a “big artist,” a big part of the focus of our posts relates to what is called transition planning. We are right in the middle of transition planning for Jackson and he wanted to try paid employment. Before his first day of work, he said, “I am very scared because I have never worked before, but I am excited because I will make money!” As his parent, I was scared too! I was worried about how he would interact with customers, how he would handle directives from his boss, and how he would manage new sights and sounds. As this is a large job site with many interns, we did need to add an additional coach to support Jackson to help him stay on task.
Creative Mind at Work
Sorting shoes and arranging makeup are interesting to a point for him but it’s not as fascinating as languages or music. As he commented just this morning, “[I cannot pay attention easily because] I get distracted by music (and other things.) Don’t you know I’m a creative mind?”
So, we are trying to help and support a super creative mind to also attend to non-preferred tasks to help him have some work skills that will allow him to eventually follow directions in his chosen place of work–animation or art.
So first a Goodwill job and then keep working to build up to more independence. Step-by-step, it’s a process at Team Jackson.