Asaph lives with high-functioning autism and has struggled with social and communication skills that many of us take for granted. Things like interpreting social cues, recognizing and expressing emotions are common challenges for individuals on the autism spectrum and Asaph is still learning and developing in these areas.
When high school graduation came, Asaph’s parents looked to employment as the next logical step in what they hoped would be his eventual independence. Though excited for Asaph’s next steps, they were unsure if he had developed the stamina and emotional regulation to succeed in a job. A family member reached out to Easterseals-Goodwill with their questions.
Soon Asaph enrolled in our Supported Employment program in Great Falls, MT and began working with a job coach. She quickly saw great potential in Asaph’s caring and honest character. Early on in her time working with Asaph she encouraged him to apply for a job opening at a local pizza restaurant, explaining that it would help him in learning how to fill out a job application, and hopefully gain some interviewing experience.
During the open interview, Asaph communicated openly about his autism and shared a few accommodation requests that would support him in being successful. To everyone’s delight, the restaurant manager hired him right away! Initially, his job coach attended employee trainings with Asaph, and worked with the restaurant staff to help them understand and communicate more effectively with him.
Restaurant manager Megan says, “I appreciated the help with learning to communicate better with Asaph. I still use those same skills today. Asaph really didn’t need a lot of help though. He watches details very carefully and he’s very self-motivated to always keep himself busy. He asks questions to be more knowledgeable. He’s a wonderful worker, and he’s very funny.”
Almost two years later Asaph continues to work at the restaurant. When asked what he likes about his job, he says he enjoys the work and the chance to talk with coworkers during slower times. The friendly relationships he’s developed with them makes him feel like they are all part of a small family. Asaph says his boss is very kind, considerate and very flexible. While he doesn’t interact with customers very often, he does enjoy seeing and visiting with people he knows from the community.
With an increased sense of confidence, Asaph is now taking college courses to earn an associate’s degree (and eventually a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or science according to Asaph) and working his way toward the independence his family has always hoped for him.
One of Asaph’s parents shared “I’m very indebted to Easterseals-Goodwill and the Supported Employment program for helping Asaph get his first job. All because his coach cared enough to point us in the right direction and didn’t limit what Asaph could do.”