One Family’s Path to Employment

On March 19th, 2012, Governor Gregoire signed into law Substitute Senate Bill 6384 (SSB 6384), a bill stating that a person 21 years of age or older who is approved for employment/day services from DDD can try employment for at least 9 months.  After that, the individual has the choice to continue with employment supports or to participate in a community access program. This new law reinforces the belief that all people should have the chance to work and offers people with I/DD the opportunity to secure gainful employment. In conjunction with our interview with them for our April E-News, The Adams have shared their testimony with us here:

Testimony to the House Committee on Early Learning & Human Services: February 16, 2012

By Audrey and Keith Adams

I encourage your support of SSB 6384. Employment is important to everyone, no less for people with developmental disabilities.

Ten years ago a job for my son Kyle was just a dream for hopeful parents wanting a tiny bit of “normal” in spite of severe autism.

He was mostly non-verbal, had many autistic behaviors, made loud Tarzan noises instead of speech and had very poor social skills. Although literate, he was viewed as the most disabled student in his high school of 1200 students, and likewise among his peers in Special Olympics. Who would hire him?

But the laws mandated that my son be put on an employment track and, thanks to those laws and many people who apparently believed in miracles, at age 20 he became a client of DVR and got a job coach that would help him find a job. That proved to be very difficult.

The job coach soon discovered that my Tarzan guy was not well suited to working retail, pushing carts, folding napkins or vacuuming as it was impossible to keep him on task.  But the job coach was in for a big surprise when he tested Kyle’s computer skills. He rocked! With electronics, speech is not a pre-requisite, and Kyle is focused, motivated and competent.

Five years ago our dream came true—Highline Community College hired Kyle to scan and computerize paper documents, creating archived files. He works 4 part-time days a week in an office surrounded by his computer and equipment.  He loves it and they love him!

This is what his supervisor, Barb Broomfield, at Highline has to say:

“Kyle’s presence and contributions are testimony to our mission as an organization.  Not only does Kyle benefit from experiencing the culture and expectations of a professional work environment, our office and campus community has opportunity to experience Kyle’s achievements and growth, both personal and professional, on a first hand basis. Plus due to Kyle’s hard work, important documents and records are accessible in digit format which is essential in today’s world….”

To us, this job is a daily miracle.

SSB 6384 is a good bill because it keeps the focus on jobs, while still allowing an option for those who cannot attain employment. However, I encourage that Adult Day Health be identified in this bill as a community access option.

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