Our daughter Susan* is now 21 years old. In July 1999, she started a creative arts program, had physical therapy, speech/voice, drama, singing, performing arts classes and painting, too. Then, a year later, she began a sheltered workshop program through the Department of Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Rehabilitation. She did assembly work, had job coaching and attended interview classes. After six months, she rotated through various positions. Although she was paid less than minimum wage, she was pleased to finally be earning a paycheck. She also made friends and began going out on weekends, another step forward that was very encouraging.
Susan's goal was to get a "real job" making minimum wage: $5.15 an hour in California. She interviewed for a receptionist position at Lowes and was hired! She began working six-hour days starting at $7.50 an hour, plus vacations and holidays!
She answers phones, takes messages, transfers calls and generally, tries to keep customers happy. At first, with five phone lines to keep track of, she thought her new job was too difficult. However, with a full-time job coach and encouragement her skills and confidence increased. She now loves her job!
The job coach, from the Department of Rehabilitation, will work with her daily until she handles the job without problems for 90 days. Then, she will be on her own. What a success! I never thought she would be able to do it, but it was her dream and she is doing great.
So to the rest of our families, I say: Hang in there! Keep doing the hard stuff with the schools, teachers and doctors because it does pay off.