I have an idea for lining up “Internships” for M as a way to teach job skills, social skills, and maybe even find a “niche” for work he can do as an adult.

 I'd love to get feedback about this plan (suggestions are always appreciated!) and ideas for places that might be a good fit for M to intern at...

 Here's my plan: I’ll approach businesses in our town about M working for them. I would ask that he be required to fill out an application, but basically it would be volunteer work… they wouldn’t have to pay him. He would need to comply with their dress code (uniform etc) and I would stay on site to act as his job coach. He would answer to the manager of whatever business he’s working at, but I would one-on-one him, helping him to understand what’s expected of him, keeping him on task, etc.

 I’m thinking about keeping each internship short, working at each business an hour or so every week or two for just three to four months, then rotating into another internship someplace else. Rotating like this should keep him engaged (the novelty of trying new things) and also give him the chance to try out different kinds of jobs, working for different kinds of people, learning different skills etc.

I’m thinking about trying to put to arrange two 3-4 month internships a year, giving him some time off around the holidays and between “jobs”. (If this works, the length of the internships would increase as he gets older.)

We’d keep our volunteer job at the library as well… I need help thinking about businesses I can approach about this… I’m going to ask the manager of our Chick-Fil-A (he’s a very nice guy, who already knows M), thinking that M can clean tables, hand out free samples, etc.

I also thought about asking at the senior center and the animal shelter.

 Any other ideas?? 

M isn’t good around other kids, but is very social and good with adults. His speech isn’t clear enough to answer phones or anything, and he’s too unpredictable to be around cooking (hot surfaces) or food preparation equipment (sharp things).

He would be good at snack bar kind of work… (Hmm.. maybe the movie theater?) He’s good with Gameboy and computers, and he can make change, so I think he could run a cash register (if someone was willing to donate the time to teach him).

 Our town is small enough to have some smaller family owned businesses, I think those are the places I’ll have to approach… although I might see if Wal-Mart might let M be a greeter (or work with one of their greeters).

 What do you think? Ideas, thoughts, suggestions?? 

*edited to add* I’ve already been given several very good suggestions… Thanks, keep them coming! I’m going to make a list of ideas here and add to it as people leave comments (and ideas!) for me…
  1. stocking shelves
  2. assembly work
  3. fill boxes for shipping
  4. pet store clean up/odd jobs
  5. outdoor work - maybe in a park or a nursery, helping to water the plants...maybe do some set out the flowers for a display. (I love this idea... thanks Loren!)
  6. library work (something we are currently doing, perhaps volunteering at another library would be good, to broaden the experience)
  7. aide at an assisted living center or nursing home, helping people with severe disabilities
  8. tending to animals (barn help, etc?)
This page was originally written and posted in Oct. of 2007, here's an update: M has successfully worked at a small thrift store in town for over a year now. It was difficult to find a good fit in terms of a volunteer position, but we finally have found it and he's thriving. He has formed friendships with the other employees and has been given increasing more complex jobs to do. It looks like helping M learn and practice job skills will be a way of life for me for the foreseeable future...

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