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The Frugal Woman's Guide to Autism Awareness / Acceptance Day

This past weekend brought about the annual Autism Awareness/Acceptance Day. Every April 2, people around the world don blue apparel and celebrate. Some raise flags, some walk to raise funds, some light up their buildings and homes blue. It is a wonderful time to celebrate a group of people who bring so much to our lives.

The City Of Cambridge, On fosters a welcoming environment for those with disabilities in our community. For those with autism it goes so far as to bring in a special time to meet with Santa Claus that is quieter and and less invasive on senses. There are special movie showings. There are clubs and social groups for every one with disabilities to join. Our city supports not just one but two special needs hockey teams. We are growing in our inclusiveness and I am proud to live here.

My son has autism. I want to tell you a little bit about this incredible young man.

"Dylan", not his real name, graduated high school with honours. Not because he is some sort of autistic savant, but because he applied himself earnestly, as most students who graduated with honours do. He did bonus work and worked hard and applied himself and never once complained that it was harder for him because of his disability.

He did co op placements in school and enjoyed one so much that he stayed on for the entire year, wishing to forgo his summer vacation in place of work. He always arrived on time if not early, worked late of his own choice and only missed one day due to illness at his mother's request.

He is and has been a part of the Cambridge Ice Hounds for ten years. He plays defense because it appeals to his loyalty and protective nature of the things he loves and commits to. His doctor told his parents that he would never play team sports because he would never be able to read someone else's mind and put himself in their head. It is true this is extremely difficult for him but should you ever get the chance, you should watch him play and judge for yourself how well he does.

Like many young men his age, "Dylan" prefers to play video games over household chores but the minute he is asked, he puts down his controls and does whatever has been asked of him. Yes, bathrooms too. He does this not because he is blindly doing what he is told but because he is a great kid who likes to help out in whatever way he can.

"Dylan"wants to work. So much so that he is paying an agency forty (40) dollars an hour to help him secure employment. Recently, he was hired by a company in Preston that makes vinyl sub flooring from recycled materials. He came home from the interview and immediately called every one to tell them. He was so happy someone was finally willing to give him the chance he has waited for. On Friday he said to his job coach, “ I am finally a contributing member of society.”

Even while working he was paying his support person 4 times his own pay rate to help him figure everything out so he good do a good job,making sure he was fully trained before working on his own. That means for every 45 dollars he made he paid “Bob” 160. How many employees are that eager to work ? I would venture to say none.

On Friday, April Fool's Day, just four days after being hired and only 12 hours of actual time on the floor, "Dylan" was let go. The reason cited was that he didn't work fast enough. He was never told to work faster. He was never told his job depended on that. He wasn't even given a week to learn this brand new skill as most employees are. He was simply let go.

It is worth stating that said company did ask if they would receive some sort of subsidy for hiring a young man with a disability. "Dylan" however doesn't have that encouragement attached to his resume. He has been determined as someone who is capable of doing the work of most “ typical” employees. It is also worth stating that this vinyl company had already hired "Dylan's" replacement. A person who's disability does come with a subsidy. Business is business and while legally the trending vinyl company is within their rights, morally they have a long way to grow.

Sadly, I had to break this news to my son. In his ever positive look on life, he hugged me and said, “I'm sorry Mom that I have to put you through this.” That's"Dylan". It's not about him. Sadly too, it seems the need for Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month is still needed.


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