Monday, November 18, 2013

Employment a Difficult Activity For People with Autism

My oldest daughter, Dominoe, and I have been working on getting her a job. She has had a job before. Twice as a matter of fact. She lost it when the economy tanked. We tried to get another job. I called our local Louisiana Rehabilitative Services (LRS) and was counseled that they could not help her because she was ‘too disabled’. Of course they didn’t use those words but that is exactly what they meant. Since she has waiver services we went to the largest agency in the area for help. I was upset that they sent us a letter saying all they had to offer her was a ‘sheltered workshop’. We made it clear from the beginning that she was looking for competitive employment. I was so disappointed that a sheltered workshop was all they thought she could do. So we did nothing. In the next couple years I got involved with an initiative in our state called Employment First. I got to meet several people who offered me advice. Again we went to Louisiana Rehabilitative Services but this time I knew a little more. When they counselor there told me that Dominoe needed more supports than they could provide, I emailed one of the people I had met. She told me to say that I knew they had to do an evaluation anyway. I immediately did that. I also told the LRS counselor I was working with someone who knew the system and was willing to give me advice. At that point he immediately scheduled her for an evaluation with a psychiatrist. I was greatly surprised at the thoroughness of the evaluation. Unfortunately the evaluation said exactly what that agency had said years ago. It said she would be appropriate for the sheltered workshop. Although the Employment First meetings never have really produced much, I again I consulted the lady I had made friends with through the meetings. She told me to ask for a ‘situational assessment’. Although that process was not all that I believe that was the point where everyone decided that we would really be working through the process. So she was on her way to a job. Or so we thought.

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