Years ago we came to the realization that Jared's autism was going to make it next to impossible for him to earn a diploma.
That piece of paper means quite a lot. Many people take it for granted and just assume that everyone will leave high school with a diploma. Many people don't realize how much has to actually be done to receive that diploma. The academic requirements that must be met to get the diploma are things that are out of Jared's reach.
Jared's difficulties with communication and language cause him to not be able to take the required academic classes and not be able to score a passing grade on the required end of course tests.
So we decided, back when Jared was in middle school, that in addition to continue to work with him on language, communication and functional math skills, we were going to need to really focus his learning on social skills and employment skills.
Our family's goal for Jared was that when he leaves high school (at age 22 by the way) that he will have a job - and a job where he would be paid the same pay that someone without a disability would be paid.
We have worked on this since early middle school, and will continue to work on it for years.
The percentage of adults with disabilities that sit at home all day, every day after high school is staggering. We work so hard for Jared what is called "A Life Like Yours." This simply means, a regular life, like any person his age would be leading. Not a special life - just a normal, everyday, regular life. A life where you have friends. A life where you work. A life where you are a part of the everyday community.
Some days it seems like we are not getting very far, or that we are taking steps backward.
And then there are days like today.
Today I am able to share...
Jared has a part time JOB!!!
A real part time job. One where he gets paid actual minimum wage. One that he will receive a paycheck for the work that he does.
Jared is now an official crew member at First Flight Creations (a division of Kaldy Services, Inc.)!!
First Flight Creations is lead by John and Christine Kaldy. The Kaldy's hold the belief that all people have talent and can contribute. That shows in everything they do.
First Flight has these four tenets, much like their logo with four points of a compass:
Never give up!
Steady progress to create ongoing value added work and learning opportunities while having fun!
Engage the community to support real individuals with special abilities!
Work with key stakeholders to become a for profit venture donating a percentage of sale to support related organizations!
How awesome is that!
These words ring so true in our life with Jared ----
Never give up,
Engaging within our community.
Never give up!
Jared still has autism.
Jared still needs a lot of support.
Jared still struggles with many things.
Jared went to work today, and worked alongside his co-workers to make some beautiful wooden creations that will be sold at vendor fairs, farmer's markets, and at local stores that house what First Flight calls "Pop-Up Shops" (like at Maglio's Pizza.)
Tonight we celebrate all of the little steps forward that have landed us at this place today.
Tonight we are reminded to always believe in POSSIBILITIES!
Filling in the nail holes with putty.
Using the nail gun with Mr. Kaldy.
Using the nail gun some more.
Finished bunny boxes that are ready to sell.
Check out these cool items from my new tool kit!