Thursday, August 25, 2016

Employment - not.

Two days ago, returning from a 1 week family holiday, he quit. Without notice.
He gave us no real warning, and, not atypically, disregarded our strenuous advice. In follow-up we hear he was doing the job well enough, his supervisor was surprised he quit. And annoyed he quit without notice.
#1 has had various explanations for why he left. I doubt he knows. The one he currently favors is that the work wasn’t interesting enough — he was doing grounds maintenance and he wanted to work with machinery.
In our own post-mortem we came up with 10 factors: 
  1. Social isolation, there was really nobody there he would be comfortable with, no other cognitively limited adults.
  2. There was no coaching, no support, no communication channels. It was an unsupported job.
  3. He had no concept of “giving notice”, wasn’t aware that was something one did.
  4. A special needs friend he admires spoke fondly of his (much less appealing, more difficult) job in food services at a sports center and advised #1 to apply.
  5. He was unhappy at not getting “time off for state fair”
  6. He was bored, the job wasn’t exciting any more, wanted to do more interesting things
  7. The holiday took him away from his routine. His memory is odd; after 3 days things seem less familiar. We needed to drive by his work on our return and anticipate reentry problems.
  8. The commute was hard and the novelty of going by bus had worn off.
  9. He has unrealistic work expectations (dream meme scam)
  10. He has a history of quitting sports teams after about 2-3 months, this fits a trend.

I think it all adds up to he got the job prematurely; he’s not ready for unsupervised and unsupported work. Maybe in 4-5 years he could do this work reliably and appreciate it, but he’s not there yet.

Now we have to twist his arm to get him back to his transition program (two years left). He now has no screen time at all before 5pm, so life at home is reading, bicycling, sleeping, and chores. That should make his screen heavy transition program time more appealing.

The dream job scam - schools are doing us no favors

Sometime in the past decade or two US schools were infected with a “you can do what you dream” meme.

This made some sense for cohorts oppressed by poverty and racism. It makes less sense for privileged whites where employment is constrained more by native abilities than environmental constraints. It makes no sense at all for the special needs cognitively disabled population. In fact, it’s malignant.

Throughout his school life #1’s IEP’s featured his “dream job”. Often this was K-9 training officer.  A job he did not have a snowball in hell chance of getting. My childhood dream job was to be an astronaut — that was way more feasible, at least before the Challenger disaster.

The reality for kids like #1, particularly given the current American fad for mainstreamed and relatively unsupported employment, is that he’ll  either be unemployed or do boring and unpleasant work cleaning, serving food, or, ideally, working in a (non-Amazon) warehouse. The “Do what you dream” scam just makes reality more disappointing. 

This isn’t so different, of course, from what work is like for the majority of Americans. I wonder how much alleged millennial work unhappiness has to do with the You can Dream meme.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Exercising with autism: working within the energy budget

A post about energy levels and autism activity reminded me how #2 has managed his mountain biking team participation.

He is one of the more consistent attendees of practices, but he doesn’t do a full practice. He started out doing about half a practice. Over time that’s edged up to perhaps 2/3 of a practice. He goes at a pace that feels very slow to a near 60yo father/coach — but he goes.

His consistency is remarkable. It’s the same with inline skating. He shows up. He goes at his own pace. He does it.

He is almost always limited by his “emotional energy”, not his lungs and muscles. He loves to talk to me while he does things; if we talk on a topic he’s excited about he doesn’t get tired. If the activity is not exciting, or the conversation or audio isn’t engaging, he tires quickly. I think he does better with inline skating and mountain biking because they if one doesn’t focus they can be painful. During our winter walks he listens to the podcasts he loves, then talks about them with me.

It turns out that one can improve fitness even if one’s heart rate doesn’t peak and sweat is minimal. He is going further and faster, though never with great effort.

I’m impressed.