(2/20/2018) Staggering numbers of children are being diagnosed with autism.
But what help is there for teenagers and adults?
Many struggle to find jobs, or graduate high schools.
Now a program to help adults living with autism, fulfill their dreams has surfaced has started to help bridge the gap in Northeast Louisiana.
“Most job employers don’t seem to hire people like me,” said 19-year-old Luke Guidry.
Luke, like many teen, has big plans.
“My dream job is to work at some video company to make games to help make someones childhood out there,” said Guidry.
A dream his mother, Stacey Guidry, is trying to help him fulfill with her role at Families Helping Families.
Their new program— P.I.E. — Partners In Employment is her latest passion project.
“Our goal and idea behind this program is that we build partnerships with area businesses and we help them to realize there are a high number of individuals who may not need as many accommodations or modifications as someone on the job,” said Stacey Guidry.
So far, the program has partnered with companies like Toys ‘R Us to give teens like Luke the chance earn cash by greeting customers and even pushing carts.
Luke has Asperger’s Syndrome.
That’s a condition on the autism spectrum.
Soon, Luke will graduate from West Ouachita High School, a milestone his mother was told he would never accomplish.
Through the school system he is going to graduate with a regular diploma this year and that’s a big victory for us because we were told when he was in the second grad that would never happen,” said Guidry, a proud mother.
Leaving Guidry to believe it’s impossible to decide someone’s fate.
“We can’t determine for an individual what they are capable of without first giving them the opportunity to see what they are capable of,” she continued. “Had I sat back and said my son wouldn’t have graduated, my son wouldn’t have graduated.”
After high school Luke says he already knows what he wants to do.
“Probably go to community college and then seek employment after that,” said an eager Luke.
However, he fears he won’t be given the same opportunities as other with disabilities.
“They are facing challenges on a day to day basis. That would make some of us stand in our steps and never take another step forward, so they embrace the positive things in their life and i want our community to accept that and open their business to them,” said S. Guidry.
And although the road to adulthood while living with autism is filled tons of twists and turns. These two are proof that if you stay the course you will eventually reach your destination.
“I never would have thought something like this would ever happen. I feel it will help a lot of people that are especially like me who want to get a job, but job employers are scared to hire them,” said Guidry.
To become a P.I.E. partner or learn more about employment opportunities call Families Helping Families at (318) 361-0487.