In September, Arden and I were talking while driving in the car, when Nick piped up from the back seat, “I want to have a job.” We reminded him that he had a job. Nick has had a few different jobs supported by job coaches for the past 16 years. It is a program that is funded through the state.
Currently he is shredding papers in our office once a week and our friend Helen is his job coach. He was quiet for a long time and I thought that the topic was concluded.
I was wrong. Next, we heard him say, “Not I get paid.” Arden and I both laughed a little. We asked him if he wanted to get paid for shredding, and he said yes. We were obviously in full negotiation mode when we asked, “How much do you want to be paid?”
He paused, as if to consider the question thoughtfully, then said emphatically, “Twenty dollars.” Arden and I looked at each other and nodded to one another. I said, “Ok, starting this week, you will get twenty dollars each time you shred with Helen. Is that ok?” He said yes.
Arden then asked, “What do you want to do with your money after you get paid?” “Buy stuff,” was the reply. Arden asked, “What kind of stuff do you want to buy?” Nick said that he wanted to buy Christmas presents. That made me cry.
Miraculously, another developmental step had been achieved. He wanted some money of his own. He wanted to work for that money, and he wanted to decide how to spend it. It was a good day.
I believe that it is important to never give up. There is always hope for forward progress. Sometimes the next step takes a long time to accomplish, but growth and learning are possible.
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