EmployAThon 2018

A friend sent this to me and I thought it looked interesting. Thanks, Cheryl, for sharing this with us!

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To increase awareness and promote both workforce and community inclusion, TransCen and DORS will host a Reverse Job Fair on October 19th!

What is a Reverse Job Fair:  Rather than a typical job fair where prospective employees move from employer table to table, job seekers will be the ones “behind the table” presenting their resumes and other information in order to showcase their skills and talents.

Here’s a link with more information.

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Matt’s 21st Birthday

Thanks, Joy and Josh for sharing this with us. Happy Birthday to Matt! 

Yesterday, Matt turned 21 and we had a party for him over at our house.  Matt invited three friends (yes, friends!) — his roomate, a friend from his radio program, and her fiance.  Matt’s beloved paternal grandparents came over and joined us and Matt’s 14-year old brother.

After dessert Matt and his friends went downstairs and found a batch of beer that I had just finished making which they broke out and sampled.  So for one evening Matt almost seemed like a regular young adult!

We can’t have Matt and his friends over every day, though.  Matt’s brother was very wound up and found it hard to get to sleep.  Our dog, who is highly anxious by nature, paced around and around the house while Matt was here.  One of our cats hid from Matt as she normally does when he comes over (which annoys Matt because he sees himself as such a cat lover!).  But this was a special day. Not only did Matt reach a special chronological milestone, but for the first time, he invited people with whom he has built true friendships to celebrate the day.

In a future post, we will talk more about one of the challenges we have had with Matt for nearly his entire life – Matt tends to talk non-stop about his interests.  This perseveration, one of the hallmarks of a autistic spectrum disorder, was extremely difficult to manage when Matt lived at home and ended up being the trigger for major conflicts.  But for today, we will just enjoy Matt’s birthday!

Time Tracker

I serve in my church as a Sunday school “buddy” for a child who has autism. Even though I raised a child who is on the spectrum, I still feel woefully inadequate to do the job, but that’s a story for another day!

A few weeks ago, the special needs director at our church handed me a “light up” timer to help my little guy with transitioning (complete with instruction manual)!  I was a bit intimidated by the instruction manual, but I took it home to see if I could figure it out. I read the manual (which wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought), and started using it at home. I loved it! In fact, I may actually buy one for myself.

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It’s called Time Tracker (by Learning Resources). It looks like it was designed for a toddler because it’s big and colorful and very sturdy. As you might have guessed, the colors change from green to yellow to red as the time expires. It also makes a sound when the colors change. If it’s set to auto-timer, it stays green for most of the time, then changes rather quickly to yellow and then red when the time is about ready to expire. But it can be set manually, so you get to choose when you want the colors to change. I’ve been using the timer to help me stay on task, which is something I normally do with a small portable kitchen timer.

I’ve been setting the Time Tracker for 30 minutes and having the colors change every 10 minutes. Here’s why I prefer it over my kitchen timer;

  • It’s big and colorful and hard to misplace. I misplace my timers all the time.
    This is why I own about five timers ( all scattered throughout the house). Sad, but true!
  • It reminds me it’s working every ten minutes with both colored lights and sound. Yes….sometimes I get distracted and forget I set a timer. Actually, this happens more often than I’d like to admit!
  • When the time expires it makes a sound only for about 5 seconds, and then it turns off automatically. My kitchen timer beeps for about 2 minutes, which can be really annoying if I am not in a position to turn it off (or if I’m too lazy to get off my butt and turn it off).
  • It has a volume control, which is a nice feature.
  • It’s colorful!

I’m sure it was designed for three year olds, but I think it works for all ages! I’m going to show it to Buster to see if he would enjoy using it for his study sessions. Perhaps he could set it a half hour BEFORE he is supposed to study, so he can transition more easily from free time to study time.

 

 

Sherr & Jon: Week 40

This week Sherr has been talking with Jon about the importance of taking care of himself physically, mentally and spiritually. Jon has not been physically active since high school, and it has affected his energy level and mood. Sherr belongs to a gym for amputees, and she asked the management if Jon could join along with her (even though he is not physically disabled). This way Jon could drive her to the gym and she wouldn’t have to take metro access! And more importantly, he could workout while he was there. The management agreed to allow Jon to join the gym. So this was great news!

Jon had his monthly appointment with Dr. Awesome today.  Sherr was unable to attend but the appointment went well. So they are moving in a positive direction.

Sherr is still waiting to hear from LISS about funding, and she is continuing to navigate the SSI process. It appears Jon has been denied for SSI again, so the next step is to appeal. The communication they have received from SSA (Social Security Administration) has been anything but clear. Sherr was hoping to schedule an appointment, but she was told they only take walk-ins. Looks like she will be spending a long day at the Social Security Administration in the near future. Fun! It has been a frustrating process, but she isn’t giving up.

RC College Update

It’s been over two weeks since we dropped RC off at college. Because he’s shy, our main concern was in the social area. Would he step out of his comfort zone and make an effort to meet new people? Thankfully, he has risen to the occasion! He is going out and making new friends. Hooray!

He’s been attending a Christian group that meets weekly (called Cru), and he made some connections there. One of the guys in Cru invited him to play a pickup game of basketball and he actually went! For me, this was shocking. RC is NOT an athlete, and he doesn’t like basketball, but he took a chance and said “yes” anyway. Way to go, RC! The same guy also invited him to a weekly poker game at his frat house. What? Poker? A frat house?? Oh my….. He didn’t know how to play poker and he knew nothing about fraternities, but again he said yes, and had a great time! He liked it so much, in fact, that he decided to pledge the fraternity. Whaaaat? I sure didn’t see that one coming. He tells me he got an “invitation” to join, so I guess he will officially be a Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) brother.

KDR requires its members to maintain a 3.2 GPA, and RC tells me there is no hazing, and the guys aren’t wild partiers. Instead of hazing they are required to do volunteer work. It sounds good to me, but I still keep picturing Animal House and get a little worried…

I wanted him to be social… Guess I should be careful what I wish for! Does anyone have experience with fraternities? If so, I’d love to talk with you.

We are very happy RC is meeting people and finding things to do on campus. Hopefully the fraternity will be a good thing. So far he is adjusting well!

Andrew’s Journey: Part 4

A while back I wrote about Andrew, a young man on the autism spectrum, and have yet to finish his story.  Sound familiar? I am so easily distracted…

So, finally, here is the conclusion to Andrew’s transitioning story!  If you want a refresher on Andrew, you can find Parts 1-3 here.

At the end of my previous post, Andrew was graduating from Montgomery College with an associates degree in general studies. He had been living in supported housing near the MC campus (and was part of the CLE program).

When Andrew graduated in May of 2016, he moved back home. After having lived on his own for two years, he wasn’t happy about the move home. He longed for his independence. Luckily for Andrew, his parents, Donna and Jonathan, had already been working to find independent housing opportunities for him. Back in the fall of 2015, they had partnered with several other parents to form Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO).  I won’t delve into the details of ILO now, but you can read more about it in my previous posts.

In November of 2016, several apartments in Gaithersburg became available to ILO members and Andrew signed a lease to live there. Six months after graduating from Montgomery College, he was again living independently!

When Andrew first moved to Gaithersburg, Donna was still driving him to and from his job at the FDA in Silver Spring (he doesn’t have his license).  After a few months, they discovered there was a shuttle that ran from the Shady Grove metro directly to the FDA complex in Silver Spring. The idea of having Andrew navigate public transportation on his own was scary for Donna, but Andrew wanted to do it, and it seemed like the logical move. She offered to ride along with him at first, but he was confident he could do it on his own. So off he went! He took the bus from his apartment in Gaithersburg to the Shady Grove Metro, then picked up the shuttle to FDA in Silver Spring. From there, he got on ANOTHER shuttle that took him directly to his building.  No problem! Now he commutes both to and from work using public transportation. Way to go, Andrew!

As one might suspect, Andrew’s experiences out in the real world haven’t always  been sunshine and roses.  He learned a few things the hard way.  When he first started riding the bus, there were some difficult moments.

Once he got into an altercation with an old lady who insisted he should give her his seat. The bus driver ended up kicking him off the bus! But as Donna pointed out, he really should have given her his seat. Lesson learned.

Another time he got into a scuffle with the father of a young, talkative child. Since Andrew is sensitive to high pitched sounds, he has a hard time with noisy children. He told the child to be quiet in no uncertain terms, and the dad ended up punching him in the face. Yikes!! The bus driver alerted the police, but by the time they arrived, the dad and child were long-gone.

Needless to say, there were definitely bumps in the road at the beginning, but Andrew is now riding the bus peacefully with the other commuters. He’s learned not to complain about noisy kids — and to give up his seat if an old lady asks for it! It’s unfortunate that the general public isn’t always sensitive to people with special needs, but that’s just the reality of it.

I have a great deal of admiration for the way Donna and Jonathan have provided the supports Andrew needs to live independently — and the courage they have shown in allowing him to navigate the world on his own. Kudos to them! And kudos to Andrew for his bravery!