Chicago, David Geslak owner of Exercise Connection – is a company that works with children who have autism. Dave told the New York Times that the structure and routine that the students learn from exercise helps them to gain confidence and this can be a gateway to getting a job.
David calls his students “Champions”
David spoke to reporter Jay Goltz about a job search for one of his students Anthony. His mother had called him as she had seen a job fair at a new supermarket in town. She needed advice on what to put on his resume.
“He has co-hosted the “Coach Dave Show,” and he helps me exhibit at autism conferences. He is very personable, enthusiastic, relays information well, but it’s not appropriate to use “champion” as a job title.”
David also spoke about the difficulties in deciding whether to disclose if Anthony has autism. He explained that Anthony’s mother was also unsure about this:
“She wants him to make that decision independently and also doesn’t want to jeopardize his getting the job. I am just hesitant to tell an enthusiastic parent or child that they need to use the label. We work so hard to shift people’s thinking on what autism is and isn’t.”
He then goes on to add that he wants to do everything to help the kids and to show companies that they can be valuable employees.
Anthony and his parents attended the job fair and interviewed with two people. They did not need to provide any medical information. Anthony was not offered a job at this time however he was encouraged to fill out an application online.
David spoke about the difficulties in choosing whether to disclose if an applicant has autism and he explained that he gave a presentation to families and business professionals a few years ago about employment strategies for the autism community.
“A mom shared her son’s employment story at a fast-food restaurant. The company was unaware that he was on the autism spectrum. Her son worked the drive-through and had exceptional skills with organizing his cash drawer. Not once was the drawer incorrect.
“The natural progression was to promote him. He, like most individuals, wanted that promotion. However, the promotion did not fit his strengths. He struggled, lost his confidence, and in a few months he was fired. Not only that, he did not get his drive-through position back.”
Anthony did the online application and this lead to a phone interview. While being interviewed his mother listened in and gave visual and written prompts. Anthony was offered an interview. He called and asked David to go with him.
“I went to Anthony’s interview as his job coach. He did an amazing job. His father told him to dress like a businessman. While not a fan of wearing ties, he did. He looked sharp. His mother had written notes for him on a sheet of paper. We reviewed them as we drove to the interview. One note did say, “I am on the autism spectrum.”
“The first signal was when Anthony introduced me as his job coach. And during the interview, what he said was so appropriate. The interviewer asked, “What is one of your weaknesses?” Without looking at the paper, Anthony confidently replied: “I have autism. It helps when people explain things or give me tasks by breaking them down into small pieces.”
Anthony was offered a job.
David ended the interview by saying:
“Even though a company has good intentions, I would encourage them to get some assistance if they have decided to hire from the autism community.”
The original article by Jay Goltz in The New York Times can be read here. Autism Daily Newscast reported last month on Meticulon, a Canadian company that works with people with autism to help then find work. ASDigest has a more extensive interview with CEO Garth Johnson in this month’s issue.
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