Asperger’s Syndrome and Tweaking the Course in the Search for Employment

compass

Last month was the hottest April on record. These next few days have been cooler, more like average temps should be. But you can feel the promise of summer and the excitement of the changes to come as the end of the school year and graduation for many draws near. The incremental changes that MJ is experiencing are full of possibility as well. She’s starting to feel minor changes in her body from the hormones and she’s decided to make a few tweaks to her job search, changes that we hope will lead her to a career that will be a better match for someone with the unique set of challenges of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome.

MJ is a talented graphic artist and up until a couple of years ago, she was pursuing an associates degree in Communication Design. After the last two internships and ongoing freelance work as a designer, its clear to her that to find success in graphic design requires a level of communication and social skill difficult to reach for an aspie. But MJ is an inter-disciplined creative problem solver. I’ve maintained that the perfect job for her will combine her skills in design and technology. On the journey to the perfect job, we are thinking that at this point, she might find more success and fulfillment by pursuing a technical job. So after meeting with the Pathways team to discuss the possibilities, they’ve agreed to focus their search on jobs like fixing or building computers, software testing, or something else where she might gain experience in IT.

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Farewell 2016! It Was Rough But Thanks Anyway

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! We definitely did. And now I’m reflecting on the year and looking forward to starting a new one. It was a rough year, but I’m grateful for the struggle.

MJ’s last internship ended just before Thanksgiving. It provided opportunities for growth in a lot of areas. In my opinion, the biggest accomplishment was getting her driving consistently to and from work. But the job gave her a more regimented schedule and clearly defined tasks and deliverables. And with minor exceptions, she delivered beautifully. On a few occasions, she had to demonstrate humility and give the the client what they asked for even when she disagreed. She learned that it was important to give the client what they want and then to go above and beyond to give them a better solution. This is a very important skill for a designer to learn and one that comes with experience.

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She’s Driving!

MJ drove the half hour to and from her internship by herself for the first time this week! Woo-hoo! I’m doing the happy dance! I am so proud of her.

In the last 4 weeks since the present internship began, I had been riding with her, sometimes driving her there and letting her drive home. A few times she drove both ways but still wanted me in the car. She’s had her license for a long time but until now wasn’t comfortable driving anywhere alone.

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Another Internship, a NYC Adventure, and More Ground Covered

Work’s been keeping me from writing and that’s a good thing, but now I have a lot to tell you. First off, MJ will be starting another internship next week and Pathways helped her line up some possible freelance graphic design work. In the meantime, she made her way to New York City for a concert. She also emailed Whitman Walker to make an appointment… AND we celebrated her birthday. As she’s getting older, I’m noticing more maturity and am encouraged by the growth she’s had this summer.

The Pathways team set up this second internship with a publishing company and I think they’ve found a good match. MJ felt comfortable with the employees she was introduced to at the meet and greet. She’ll mostly be putting magazine ads together, but I believe there will be opportunity to do some photography too. Unfortunately it will be more layout and less design but a good environment to practice discipline and develop healthy work habits. There will be a lot more structure and more clearly defined tasks and deliverables than in her previous internship. It also seems that this time there may be an opportunity for employment after 10 weeks. The main concern MJ has is that they work on Macs and she prefers PCs. It will be an adjustment and I just pray she isn’t going to be to obstinate about it.

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Waited Out the Storm, Got Rewarded by A Rainbow

Recently, as is often the case in summer, a quickly moving thunderstorm passed over us at the beach. My husband and I decided to wait it out and as the sky cleared, a rainbow appeared on the horizon. That’s kinda the way life is for us, isn’t it?

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
– Genesis 9:16

While the news has been filled with reports of occurrences demonstrating unrest around the world, I think there’s a widespread concern that we are on the brink of certain disaster. And here in the U.S., no matter what side you fall on, the political climate and upcoming election has us on edge. Yet most of us also have more personally pressing concerns to deal with in our families and everyday lives. We are waiting out the storms, praying for change, and anxiously waiting for better days to come.

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Thankful for the Ride

I’ve always said that parenting my genius is a roller coaster ride… like when MJ was struggling with grades, was kind of miserable in high school, and then her science fair project on the thrust of rocket engines was chosen to compete regionally and then statewide. Last time I wrote, I was so excited about MJ’s internship. And while it was a fantastic and life changing experience it came to an unexpectedly difficult and sort of abrupt end.

In the beginning, they seemed so enamored with MJ and talked about the possibility of hiring her or at least extending the internship. She was feeling confident and great about her future prospects. But in the 11th week they decided that because there were some previously scheduled interns coming in, they didn’t have room for her. And, I’m not exactly sure what happened but it seems that the lack of structure and some blurred lines of expectations became issues. Yup, up and down and around we go.

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Spring Break and MJ’s Blossoming Career

magnolia gardens

Sorry it’s been a while. My work has kept me incredibly busy and I was knocked down hard with the flu the week before spring break. Before spending Easter in NJ, we packed ourselves up and took a long drive south. Given the talk of the bathroom bill issue in North Carolina, MJ was nervous about going to that part of the country. But we were in a more urban area of South Carolina and all was fine. I don’t think any of us felt uncomfortable at any time.

We had all been working so hard that I felt we needed to take a mental break and just enjoy each other as a family. So, we toured the city of Charleston and underwent a culinary adventure. No shortage of great eating there! One day was spent leisurely strolling through Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. I underestimated how intensely therapeutic this day would become. We completely slowed down, focused our attention on the beauty before us and literally took the time to stop and enjoy the glory of God’s creation. MJ treated it as a photo expedition and took thousands of shots, some that are so artful, they look like paintings.

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