Each and every person has individual interests. For some, their interests appear healthy and productive. For others, their interests may appear to be a “waste of time”. However, by thinking creatively, one can find inspiration in the most futile of interests. John, a 19 year-old student with autism in Switzer’s SAIL transition program is an example of this. He is extremely interested in cartoon characters. He enjoys drawing them, giving them new personalities and story lines, and speaking to pictures of them for comfort when he is nervous or upset. It may appear to others that his pictures are a waste of time. But contrary to how it may appear, John is learning very valuable job skills that stem from the large folder of cartoon pictures he carries with him. He is learning to use Adobe Photoshop to alter images. He is motivated, focused and displays a dramatic increase in his level of patience. In the past, John had been quick to give up on tasks that he considered difficult. His patience was low and he lost interest quickly. Watching him complete his first Photoshop project was amazing! John sat focused for nearly 2 hours while selecting the initial background in a picture* and replacing it with one he felt made the picture more humorous. Learning to change a background in Photoshop is a difficult task and one that can lead to intense frustration. John made many mistakes as he learned to use the selection tool, but not once did he get upset or show any signs of frustration! To see a student immersed in learning and developing a constructive skill that he would like to translate into a career path as a cartoon comic is a beautiful sight to see!
Did you know?
According to the Council for Exceptional Children, only 20.5% of people with disabilities participate in the workforce….[and] the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 14.1% . Switzer Learning Center is a nonpublic, non profit education school that contracts with public school districts to offer children the opportunity to believe, achieve, and thrive. Children at Switzer with moderate to severe autism benefit from the only transitional program in the South Bay area, SAIL (Self Advocacy and Independent Living). Students in the program are taught basic life skills, such as meal preparation from start to finish; in addition, they participate in supported work opportunities, which assists them in gaining valuable work experience as well as learning purchasing skills. Our method of addressing autism’s core deficits is through a project-based curriculum that impelments the theories and techniques of Vygotsky’s Guided Participation. To learn more about how we help prepare students with autism for life after Switzer, through the SAIL Transition Program, click here. You can also visit www.switzercenter.org/students-on-autism-spectrum or click here.
For ideas on what you can do to spread awareness about National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) click here.
Please check here regularly for stories about our current students, examples of their current work, and testimonials from grateful parents.