Occupational Course of Study

Food Barn pin from first paycheck job. / c. 1989

Food Barn pin from first paycheck job. / c. 1989 – Nate Hofer

As part of The Boy’s course of study, he must complete 225 hours of competitive employment outside of the school day, which means he has to get some kind of job. The letter from the coordinator basically said to ask friends who owned businesses or worked for one to find a position for him.

At first, I thought he could volunteer with the dog rescue that I’m affiliated with. We went to help socialize some kittens one day, and the urine smell was too much for him. He wandered around, not helping, and it was kind of a disaster.

Since I don’t have too many friends here, and the ones I do have are not in a position to hire The Boy, I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around just how he will get this graduation requirement completed in the next two years.

I met with a woman from Vocational Rehabilitation, a state agency that helps the less-employable with finding a job, training, job coaching, and in The Boy’s case, transitioning from a school-sponsored work assignment to the real world upon graduation. I asked her if we could get help finding a job for this requirement, and she had no idea what I was talking about. (Really?…)

Next, I emailed the district coordinator with my concerns: Finding a job that would allow him to work 10-15 hours a month, with someone who has an inkling about autism (keeping in mind that it took me 5 MONTHS to find a job when I moved here), and there was no job coaching or anything available.

Her response was fairly glib, and included an offer for him to do volunteer hours if I was “uncomfortable with him working in the community.” She also admonished me to not be “afraid to allow him to keep moving forward vocationally.”

(Excuse me while I go punch something)

Afraid? I asked for help identifying businesses and owners who may have worked with kids in the program before, and I got passive aggression and vague suggestions of libraries, dry cleaners, potato farms, and movie theaters.

Kids become adults. Kids become adults. Kids become adults. Kids become adults.

Kids become adults. And the fight continues.

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3 Guest Limit

Thursday, The Boy has his 8th Grade Celebration. When I first heard about it, I only heard the name and the date, not a description. I thought it was an end of the year dance for 8th graders, as is quite common.

It’s not.

It’s an awards/graduation ceremony, and at first I thought about us not going. The kids have to sit on the stage the entire time, and my experience with awards nights was that they drag on interminably. Not very autism-friendly. Plus, they are dictated to wear “Sunday clothes” (I hate that term), which for boys means a nice pair of pants and a collared shirt. Not The Boy’s preferred clothing, either.

But I consulted with his TA, and she seemed to think he would be fine, and that it shouldn’t last longer than an hour and a half. So, I sent in the RSVP that we would attend. Here’s the thing: they give the kids tickets, and each kid is limited to three.

I completely understand that there are families who will bring the entire extended family (and usually air horns) to an event like this, and there is limited space. I get that. But three?

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What if a kid has parents who are divorced and remarried? Who gets to go?

What if a family has 3 children or more? Who gets to go (or pays for a babysitter)?

What if a family has 2 parents and 2 grandparents that attend their only grandchild’s events like ours?

The stepdad bows out and gives up his seat so both grandparents can go, that’s what happens. And even though I know it’s doesn’t bother The Man too much, it still kinda stings. And rather than being a celebration, it becomes a compromise, which kinda ruins the whole thing. Shame on the school that can’t accommodate families when all they want to do is celebrate their child. Together.