As a divorced mother of two sons with autism and a daughter who was accepted into Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth in the second grade, I watched the gap in their employment options steadily expand as they grew older. My middle son Jay would try to compete with his sister in academics but his limited communication skills always hindered him.
I thought since Jay loves to swim, roller skate and lift weights on the gym’s universal equipment maybe a manual labor career with weight bearing options and navigation could be an option? Maybe UPS unloading trucks, the airline’s baggage claim, furniture moving or lawn care. Simple in theory but not in practice.
When I took jay to Walmart and asked him to push a shopping cart, my literal son pushed the cart with all of his strength. I then ran after the cart with all of my speed to make sure no on was injured by the flying cart. Over the next two months Jay and I worked with a medicine ball, beach ball, wrist weights and more to help him with navigation and safety. After the two months had passed we returned to Walmart, Jay was able to navigate the shopping cart successfully for over 30 minutes. Jay’s proprioceptive skills development over those two months also enhanced his receptive language and problem solving skills.