It’s very difficult to put yourself in the shoes of another person. Their backstory, and skills are vastly different to yours, and no matter how hard you try, its very hard to know how they’ll deal with an issue.
This is doubly so when that person has Autism. (Or, for that matter, any disability).
My sons both have Autism, one high functioning, and one low functioning. This week He (the high functioning son) was dropped into Work Experience for the week. He was given a sheet a few weeks ago, with details on where this was. He was told it would be business/administration based, and that if he wasn’t happy with this, he should speak up.
He doesn’t like to cause a fuss, and was worried about upsetting the teacher, so he kept quiet. What he really wanted was an IT based job.
He started on Monday working for a company that used to be part of the local council, but the services had been sold off (I’m guessing, that’s the feel I got for it). He couldn’t find his way into the building, because the entrance door was locked, and there were 20 different doorbells, each for different teams. He pressed the doorbell, and they ignored it.
I rang the company from my phone, and told them he was waiting on the doorstep, and he was let in by a gentleman that looked like a typical council employee. He went inside, and I headed home.
When I collected him that evening, I asked how his day had gone. He told me that it was so mind-numbingly dull, he’d considered jumping out the window half way through, as this would either let him escape, or end his torment. We told him that he’d need to go back the next day, and that it’d be better, as ‘I’m sure this was just one day, they’re sure to give you better work to do” (He’d been given several hundred documents. told to print them one after the other (Not all at once! It’ll block the printer for everyone else) Then collate, staple, and put in a folder. That was his whole day.)
The next day, he had more of the same. print, staple, and this time he also got to remove papers from folders! how lucky was he!
Parent rage took over, and I called his school to complain. ‘How is this representative of a working life?’ I asked. Using work experience kids to do your drudge work isnt exactly responsible.
After some too’ing and fro’ing, we told the school there were two options.
Option 1, he comes into work with us. We put him to work with a schedule of things to learn in each department. Our CEO was happy with this, and we’d done it before. That way he gets a better view of working in a tech company.
Option 2, he stays home and revises, or goes to school and revises.
The first person I spoke to was…. well, she was an arse. She talked over me, argued, and didn’t listen to a word I said. She tried to tell me it was tough, and that my Son should carry on with work experience. Eventually though, I got to talk to her boss.
Her boss was more helpful, and I provided her with info about our company, the tasks we’d be setting him, and my feelings on the matter. She went away to check what rules it was breaking, and the next day told me it was fine.
He’s now been working here for two days. He had a slow start yesterday, but today I broke through by combining our product with one of his favorite subjects. As we speak, he’s busy theming our product with Fallout theming. most of today he’s had a big grin on his face.
If only his school had thought ahead about this, perhaps talked with him about what he’s expecting, rather than just giving him a piece of paper and telling him that’s what he’s doing, they could have had the smile too