This year our household celebrated our son Liam starting an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. We never would have dreamt of this day almost 18 years ago, when at just 2 years old, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
Back when he first received his diagnosis, the psychiatrist told us he probably wouldn’t speak, or show emotion, and might even end up institutionalised! In those days there was very little awareness and much less understanding of autism.
Fast forward to now! And how wrong they were!
Liam’s success is attributable to people taking the time to understand his strengths and learning styles. And to help other people to understand how to best support him and set him up for success.
In high school, Liam’s teacher discovered his talent in wood working. Liam had great attention to detail and loved working in a sequential manner. When considering Liam’s career path, we considered his strengths and passions. A lover of Lego and a strong background in woodwork, it was a natural extension to investigate cabinet making.
The key to Liam’s employment success was working towards an inclusive approach with his employer, where they developed an understanding of Liam’s abilities, how he works and the ways he learns best. Every employee, including the CEO, built an understanding of Liam and what accommodations needed to be put in place to make his work experience as successful as possible. It’s been a very positive process, where everyone has accepted and embraced Liam for who he is. He now has a fulfilling career ahead of him, where both employee and employer are happy, and we couldn’t be prouder.
It just goes to show how a little understanding can go such a long way to support someone on the autism spectrum.