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Flourishing in Work that Fulfills

Kaitlin Moncol had a tough time finding a job that was a perfect fit. She wanted to work near her home in Raleigh, but most of all, she wanted to work in art, which was her passion.

Kaitlin, who was diagnosed with autism before her second birthday, worked with an Employment Supports Professional from the Autism Society of North Carolina to find a job. With her mother’s encouragement, they went in for an interview at Jerry’s Artarama in Raleigh.

Kaitlin Moncol and Tom Dowd

Seven years later, Kaitlin is still flourishing at the art supplies store. “She’s hard-working, conscientious, smart,” said Tom Dowd, long-time manager of the flagship store. “She is reliable, and she completes every task to the best of her abilities. I could really go on about her for a long time. She’s just amongst the best people I’ve ever had work for me.”

In the beginning, Kaitlin worked part-time straightening shelves, restocking, and helping customers. Tom supported her by providing very specific directions and breaking projects into smaller tasks so they weren’t overwhelming. Her Employment Supports Professional would accompany her throughout her shift. “Her support staff have been wonderful. They have really helped her navigate the challenges,” Tom said.

“Now I can run the register, do limited framing work, write special orders, do inventory counts, and train new employees,” Kaitlin said. “My job coach comes to my apartment, and we discuss any situations or concerns I might have from my previous shifts. This relieves any anxiety I might have about work that day. We review any changes, such as needing to take time off or rearranging my schedule.”

After taking Kaitlin to work, the Employment Supports Professional leaves. “This is a big change from when I started,” she said. “My job coach used to need to stay the entire shift but has faded to what it is now to maintain my success!”

Having a job gives her more independence, Kaitlin said. “I enjoy my job and the new friends I make. I get to work in something that interests me. I even go out with my coworkers occasionally.”

She hopes that more employers will hire people with autism. “We are very dedicated and we don’t like to be late. People with autism pay great attention to detail.”

Kaitlin’s dedication to her job shows, according to Tom. When asked to learn how to operate the cash register, she was anxious, but “she took that challenge and she turned into one of my very best employees at the register,” he said.

Tom said he would encourage any business to embrace an opportunity to hire people with autism. “You would have an incredibly loyal employee. You will have someone who will make every effort. It’s been incredibly rewarding as a manager, as someone running a business. It’s made me better with employees overall.”

 

ASNC’s Employment Supports staff work with adults with autism to assess their skills and interests and then match them to possible jobs. They also help with the application and interview process. ASNC can assist employers by helping to train the employee, educate co-workers about autism, and put in place a structured system to help the employee maintain their job. In some cases, employers may be eligible for tax credits for employing individuals with autism. For more information, see our booklet or contact Shannon Pena, Employment Services Director, at 336-333-0197 ext. 1413 or spena@autismsociety-nc.org.

 

 

 

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