V Is having some small (but for him huge) success with job sampling. He’s started doing some woodworking; helping out in the school office; working one day at the horse farm where he used to do therapeutic riding; and as of this week, a morning with maintenance staff at a hotel.
He’s also continuing with Green Visions, which recycles computers and printers and is a great fit for a deconstructionist like V as most of the tasks involve taking equipment apart, something he’s been doing his whole life. This is the only job training he did last school year because he was so disregulated much of the time, so it’s heartening to see how much more he can do this year.
Research shows that job activities that encourage independence reduce autism symptoms and increase daily living skills. We also see how much pride he takes in his accomplishments, just like anyone else.
It takes a lot of patience to teach him and to help him stay on task; his one-to-one aide acts as his job coach along with someone else who’s in charge of transition planning at his school.
I’ve started describing him as “needing more supports” rather than having severe autism because whatever your condition/illness/disorder – and chances are if you don’t have any now you will at some point in your life – you will thrive in relation to getting the supports you need: Medicine and treatments for physical or mental illness; access to effective therapies and interventions along with the doctors, educators and/or other professionals needed to help design and implement them; the support of other people who understand what you’re going through.
More than half of young adults with autism are unemployed. Job training for people with limited social or verbal skills can be expensive and time consuming, but everyone can be productive and contribute in someway. And where do we draw the line on providing needed supports? Reading glasses, a car and GPS, a laptop, comfortable shoes if you’re on your feet all day…we all need something.
In videos he stays on task for a few seconds then gets distracted and then gets back on track – that last part is a major shift.
He is working with his OT to package food for the homeless. He’s able to put sandwiches (something he’s never eaten) in bags and more impressive, cookies (something that like most people he’d happily eat in excess), placing some in each bag before finally being able to have one.
At home he bakes with his home therapist, who has experience teaching culinary skills. V never could have done that before without continually trying to eat the batter. Baking is where I see the most growth: he can now help roll out out a pie crust and crack an egg, measure and mix and scrape and pour, a bundle of action verbs and ingredients.
Once a month we bake for school staff and we’re hoping to donate somewhere else.
In December he helped make and give out our humble but heartfelt holiday gift of taco seasoning (I thought staff had enough of sweets by then).
He can’t control himself with cinnamon sugar topping so I do that on my own but he’s good on the rest of preparing these simple and delicious cookies.
I shared these with my support group (because I need supports as much as him) ; they’re a variation on Aaron’s cookies, a simple treat my Great Uncle Aaron used to share in large sealed containers every time we saw him. It was a staple of my childhood; both the cookie and the baker were much loved. This one has orange juice and zest as well as cinnamon sugar.
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening (or half oil and half applesauce)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup orange juice (from zested orange)
2 cups flour (regular or gf)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with oil.
- Beat 1 cup sugar with the shortening, egg, vanilla and orange zest. Add the orange juice, flour, soda and salt and stir until well combined.
- Combine 1/3 cup sugar with 3 tbs cinnamon. Shape dough into walnut sized balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar and press onto prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.
Share and enjoy.