JFCS’ Vocational Rehabilitation Services finds the perfect employment match for Paul
By Justin Elvebak • Senior Employment Specialist
JFCS’ Vocational Rehabilitation Services help individuals with disabilities who are seeking employment. Paul, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, was referred to our program in March 2015. During the initial meetings with Paul, the majority of our time was focused on exploring vocational options and establishing a career path that meshed well with his interests and needs.
In February 2016 Paul and I began to research Fraser, an agency that provides a range of services for children, adolescents, adults and families with autism and other special needs. When he heard Fraser was hiring a Developmental Trainee to work with young individuals who have been diagnosed with autism, Paul immediately knew what the next step in his career path would be.
After learning more about the position, Paul said “this is what I am supposed to be doing.” He understood the difficulties of having autism at a young age and having to find “different” ways to learn. He felt passionate about the agency and the population it serves.
I assisted Paul in completing the application process, interviewing and following up with the employer to express his interest and willingness to commit to the agency. Paul started working at Fraser in February part-time as a Developmental Trainee. He started at 12 hours per week to test his stamina and ability to complete the essential functions of the position.
He made an immediate impact with the children he worked with and received multiple requests from children to be their mentor. Paul said he “understood how they feel” as a child with autism and felt it was easy to relate to their unique learning strategies. Paul also said he felt lucky to be working there. “I feel like this is what I always should have been doing,” he said in reference to assisting individuals who have been diagnosed with autism.
Recently, Paul has been promoted and is working 25 hours per week, thanks to an increased stamina and increased demand – he is consistently being requested by the children in his classroom. He has received positive reviews by his peers and supervisor. “I love these people,” Paul said to me recently. “I would not want to work anywhere else.”