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Adult World, Adult Problems

by Steven Ogle, CLE Austin

CLE Career Development group at KVUEThis story is about the independent person I am today, who is more comfortable in his own skin, and the struggles I went through to become that person. I’m sure we have all tried to become more independent and we’ve gone through struggles, but in all different ways. The funny thing is that no matter how different our journeys are, at the core, the need and desire are essentially the same.

On April 11th, 2015 my family and friends helped me move to Austin. I didn’t know what I would find or do in Austin. All I knew for sure was that I went to go to a career program to learn more about how to get better jobs and to live more independently. My friend reminded me before the move that it wasn’t going to be all fun and games. There were going to be major challenges ahead to force me to grow up. He also warned me not to be taken advantage of. I had a kind heart and that could be a double-edged sword. He didn’t want me to be naïve. We both knew that I had been in the past. I certainly was back at the fast food job I left when moving to Austin. What both of theses situations had in common was that they where very auspicious times for learning.

While I was in Austin I got a job at the Cheesecake Factory as their napkin folder. I was beyond slow at first, but with repetition I got faster and faster. I was also, for a short time, put on as a busser. To be honest, that didn’t work out so well. I was then put back on napkins. The girl I worked with was super fast. I needed more time. My fine motor skills weren’t 100%, but not so bad I couldn’t improve over time. On August 23rd, 2015 I had what I thought at the time was one of the worst things happen. I was so sure that I was scheduled for 12 Noon to 4 PM for that day at work. I remember talking to one of my managers who said “yes” when I asked him…of course the schedule was subject to change. Also, the manager wasn’t even looking at the schedule at the time he said yes, so I really should have checked. It turned out that I was working an earlier shift that day.

Learning from mistakes

When I found out the problem I called Metro Access, I couldn’t get a stand-by trip. I was stuck going at the original set ride time, 12 to 4. I was disappointed in my mistake, but I survived. I guess I was so used to having a boss tell me when I come in that I got overly confident in that. Oops! I was fully wrong. It was all on me. The only real upset, beyond screwing up, was that I thought they probably wouldn’t care about any explanation I would give. The lesson I learned was not only to check the schedule but also that the grown-up world means grown-up problems. When I got to work I explained that I made a mistake and promised it wouldn’t happen again. My boss was pretty understanding. I’m still working there a few months later and I haven’t made that mistake again.

While in Austin I have been learning a lot about myself through adversity. Through that I am learning to have more confidence in doing lots more things that I used to have people constantly help me with. Having to do a lot for myself, I have realized I could have done a lot of this stuff back home if only I tried to go out of a comfort zone that I was blissfully unaware I was making around me. Although a lot of good has come from my time in Austin, I’ve never been in a such an emotionally strong state of being homesick before. Being home sick didn’t mean I was ready to leave Austin. I knew I had a lot more learning and growing to do. Getting out of a comfort zone of your own self-making is not easy, but so rewarding.

Newsletter Articles – October 2015

Reese and mentor at Holiday Inn

It may surprise you to hear what I have found to be the biggest challenge for young adults with disabilities as they move through the transition into the working world. You might guess it is something like struggling with learning new tasks at work, or having difficulty engaging with co-workers or supervisors. Maybe even the process of applying and interviewing seems like an insurmountable task. But, no, I would say that while these things might pose some challenges, they are areas that can typically be addressed and overcome through individualized attention and support.

Disability disclosure in the workplace

Disability disclosure in the workplace is a personal choice to be decided by each individual. At CLE, we give our students the information and understanding to decide for themselves what to do when it comes to disclosure. For some, disclosure means being understood and assisted by their employers and co-workers. For others, disability disclosure might be undesirable; being a part of team without a focus on differences is the kind of work experience that these students are looking for.

We spoke with several of our students in the career program and asked them about their choices in disability disclosure. The answers were as varied as our students and it really does show how much the individual’s perception and personality affect their choice.

Deciding to disclose disability at the workplace

We set off to discover a few things about the beliefs of our students. We are particularly interested in how they view the word disability. In the course of the conversations we had with five students we discussed issues related to disability in the workplace including the nature of a disability, disclosure and accommodation. There was a range and a similarity of views among our students on what disability is.

Cal at CLE - Standup Comedy

Sometimes the traditional Monday-Friday, 8-5 work week is just not the best option for people. This is particularly the case for CLE students who may be trying to balance school, CLE appointments and transportation issues. This predicament can be further complicated for some students due to physical constraints and mobility issues. Cal Sheridan of CLE Denver is one of those students where a conventional career pathway will not be the best fit. Cal has Cerebral Palsy, so the ease with which others move around and verbally communicate at the workplace is not the same for him. As Cal put it to me quite candidly in our career advising session, “It is not like I am going to have a job working in a grocery store. I don’t even bag my own groceries. If someone were to ask me for help with their groceries I would have to find someone to help me help them!”

Nathanial Major at LinkedIn

Over the last five years I have been speaking up for autism on a peer to peer level with an initiative I call Project Speak Up. Each individual on the spectrum is unique. We have a wide range of abilities and interests. I can’t speak for everyone with autism, but I think by sharing my story I can give people some insight into the realities of autism.

In my EnableIn presentation, I emphasized that innovation is just looking at things in a new way. I pointed out that two of the most innovative minds in history, Albert Einstein and Nicolo Tesla had personality traits and communication deficits that could be considered to be on the spectrum. I then asked the question, what if Einstein or Tesla applied to your company? Would their quirky behavior, social awkwardness and difficulty with communication make it challenging for them to even get past the first interview?

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.