The Monster might be seven right now, but there’s one truism about children – eventually, they grow up.
In some ways, we’ve already started to provide for the Monster as he gets older, which is to say that we have a college fund set up for him, and we’ve done some looking at places that he could eventually go to college if he’s ready for it at that stage. But let’s all be very honest about a fact of life for children like the Monster – there are very, very few places that one can think of finding employment for them, if they’re not mainstreamed.
At one point, children with developmental disabilities grew up to be adults with developmental disabilities, and there were few enough options for them. It’s a common topic in my dads’ group, where we vent our concerns that our children will be consigned to group homes, to some kind of in-home care, to a state where first we, and then their siblings, will have to watch over them for the rest of their lives. That’s not really living, to be so dependent on other people, and our children deserve lives with dignity, which for most, hopefully, means some kind of employment.
Fortunately, we’re at a time where there is growing awareness of the problem. Certainly, Microsoft’s pilot program to hire people with Autism is a step in the right direction, but it’s still just a pilot for the time being, and really only is going to cater to higher-functioning adults as they move forward. 60 Minutes has, likewise, run articles on companies that hire people with Autism for handling testing tasks, factoring in on their skills and focus. But… that still leaves a lot of adults out. A population that is greater than 1 in 68 people is not going to find employment from these few examples.
And this is where my wife and I get concerned about the Monster’s future.
Luckily, there are more grass-roots efforts to try to build employment for others with developmental disabilities. There’s Puzzles Bakery & Café in upstate New York, and Rising Tide Car Wash in Florida, both of which make efforts to hire individuals with Autism to give them greater independence. A number of farms around the United States have been set up as job creators for this needy population as well. But with a lot of the efforts I’ve mentioned and other examples around the United States and the world, you’ll notice a common thread – they’re small, and often supported or created by a family who has a member with a developmental disability. It’s a hard thing, I think, to start a business for a loved one, and a burden that a lot of families coping with this situation can’t handle.
I’ve put forward on the Facebook page about a crowdfunding campaign for another such employment effort, Brewability Labs. It’s another of these small businesses that seeks to help adults with developmental disabilities find employment with dignity, and they can use your help. As I’m writing this, there are about 50 hours left in their campaign, and they’re about $3300 short of their goal. (And full disclosure – I’m not involved with the Kickstarter campaign at all, save as a backer. I put my money where my mouth is.)
Aside from the fact that I love the concept of this (and I do love my beer… and I wouldn’t hesitate to admit that I’d love the idea of the Monster working at a brewery when he’s older since that’d combine two things I love), I do think that the crowdfunding method is a fantastic way to try to build a structure for helping our children as they grow older. It’ll take a few of these efforts to prove that it’s a viable way forward, and it has to start somewhere… so please, consider backing this effort.
And once again, thank you.