I can appreciate formulating career coaches and working to place individuals with needs, but I need to ask how are we building a world for this dude? I hear a lot about working on skills like – know what to wear to work, how do you check your schedule, having a conversation with your coworkers, you know the coveted “soft skills.” BUT, I ask you where Noah’s place in this employment conversation is? He has limited verbal communication, might have some aggression or other barriers, so can he access independent work or supported employment. I would encourage the sugar out of his employment, but what happens when he doesn’t have a 1:1 support person? How do we open the conversation and world of jobs to those who will need more of us?
Listen, some people and companies are absolutely doing this. Still, I want us all to start thinking about if we’re going to include and provide opportunities they must consist of opportunities for dudes like Noah. Our sons and daughters have much to add, and it will take creativity, grit and more than just a touch of hard work to expand places for them. I want our kids who don’t have voices to have one during the conversation.
Conversations over the past few weeks helped crystallize the vision of what a day could look like for Noah. It was both empowering and terrifying at the same time. Here is the deal in a unicorn-filled world with rainbows and kittens; he would be 100% independent with no safety issues and work a full-time job. However, in our reality soaked world, he needs 24/7 supervision, and maybe he won’t be working a “typical” job full time. That is why we are building and working like mad to figure out options for him before the cliff comes at 21. We are not unique or special. We fought so hard for essential services for him when he was young; adulthood is hitting us like a 21-year-old freight train. I could complain and mourn that we shouldn’t have to build something, or there should be world-class services, but what good would that do? Would that make it so? Of course, it wouldn’t. Until we start to put funding behind the programs and people, we say we value the gaps will continue.
What we are working on inch by inch is to have a place where Noah can get a few hours in, but if needed, can also hang until the workday ends. Yes, I said that I am trying to build a place that isn’t only about work, but safety, community, and hope. I am not alone with sleepless nights, where will he go? Worrying about do we send him to day habilitation, hire someone with our millions (we don’t have millions)? Can we provide a hybrid model that allows him to be valued, secure, and maybe reduce the stress load on caregivers. I love watching people working on better solutions for our peeps, you can find some of them highlighted on our Facebook page or blogs. Warrior on folks and Let Joy Be Your Currency!