In the Spring of 2009, Jobpath came to Adaptations at the JCC and I made an appointment with a job coach named Katrina Roberts. I told her about my strengths, my interest and what type of work I wanted to do. I told her that I wanted to work doing data entry and work at a school. About three weeks later, we also completed some paperwork that would take almost two hours. This would allow me to get employment free services so that I would not have to pay for them. I had to take a psychological exam through what was then VESID (now it is ACCES-VR). It lasted most of the day.
I was also in the “Discovery Program” where I showed Katrina different places I liked and spent time. I showed her the JCC in Manhattan where I would have different Adaptations programs and where I would work out with circuit training. I also showed her around the St. John’s Campus where I went to school for my Bachelor’s in psychology. She also went to see many of us perform our play which was called “To Be Seen”.
I told Katrina concerns that my dad had in terms of me having a job. He did not want me to be in a work environment that was stressful, having coworkers and bosses to treat me like badly, and not be respected; she totally understood that. I told my dad in a letter about how Katrina was helping me with getting a job that would best suit me. At first he was a bit skeptical, but I told him that I needed structure in my life and he understood that. That was why I was in the customized employment program. This meant that I would have a job that would show my specific strengths and interests. In November 2009, I had a vocational meeting at the JCC and my mom, my dad, my oldest brother Blair, and Katrina were there. We talked about what I would need in a work setting for me to be successful, what types of things would not work for me, and what I would like to have, but would not be mandatory for me. The meeting went well.
Katrina found me a volunteer job with R&R at the JCC while I was continuing to look for a job. R&R stands for “rest and relaxation” and I was with them from 2009-2016. I did a variety of things, like helping out in the art room, running the game room for one whole season (2010-2011). I also was a greeter for a bit. I mainly helped out with structured play, circle games and I enjoyed it.
In the second half of the summer of 2010, Katrina found two jobs for me; one was at the Seaver Autism Center at Mt. Sinai and the other one was at the NYC Autism Charter School and I was happy about that. But first I had to fill out some paperwork for the Human Resources Department at Mt Sinai and I also went to orientation events called “New Beginnings”. I officially started work in the first full week in October. I am a Research Assistant with Mt. Sinai. I do data entry, filing, scoring of different assessments, and transport prescriptions to and from the pharmacy so the research coordinators can give to the parents and families. This is for various autism studies that are conducted. I also make sure to write notes on post-its because some data that is written needs to be double checked. Also the writing may not be as legible and sometimes I ask one of the study doctors about it.
As for getting my job at the NYC Autism Charter School, Katrina and I had my interview/conversation with the director of transitional outreach program and it went well. I had to have my fingerprints taken and I had to fill out some paperwork. I officially started there in late October. I am a Special Project Assistant and I do some administrative work like making binder tabs, making copies, scanning various things and I do some shredding of old documents that are confidential. I also do some teaching assistance tasks, like making matching books, workbooks, and curricula activities for the teachers for their students. I also organize pictures from different annual events like the piano recital, the baseball extravaganza, and Halloween on flash drives so that the parents will have good memories of their children. I also organize different documents so that the teachers and the staff can have access to them more easily.
In 2012, I was waiting to obtain benefits from Mt. Sinai because it had been a few years since I have had health insurance. I got some assistance as to how to go about asking for that and my then-supervisor submitted a grant for it. In the summer of 2012, when she was moving to Chicago, she gave me the good news that the grant had gone through. When I heard this, I was relieved because I was finally getting health insurance. I officially enrolled late that year.
I feel great about working two jobs for many reasons. One reason is because it gives me a lot of structure in my life. I like to play by the rules to the best of my ability. I get up at around 6:30am or so, which gives me plenty of time to get ready and get to work on time. It also gives me a sense of responsibility because my coworkers depend on me to do different job tasks accurately and efficiently, which makes their jobs easier in the long run. They notice and appreciate that, which makes me feel great about myself and that I know that I am giving back. This makes me feel like I have accomplished something. I am a valued member at both of my jobs and I am really respected by my coworkers which makes things that much easier for me.