As a good parent you plan ahead in detail: what kind of vocational training should your autistic child enrol into and where he or she would be able to work ten-fifteen years later. Fundamentally two factors determine this: your child’s abilities and the number of vacant workplaces near you that are compliant with these abilities.
Our pupils picked apples under the supervision of Imre Fülep, entrepreneur.
Making the most of your child’s abilities is up to you. An autistic child inherits the same genes from his or her parents as a non-autistic child. To explain this: your child will be probably as intelligent as you and your partner.
You should not expect from your autistic son to become a doctor, if you went to school for twelve years only to drop out in the sixth grade and now you work at a chicken processing factory; but despite of this you bring your child to development sessions on each school day - in an enviable manner.
And if you happen to be a coroner and the love of your life is the senior engineer of a nuclear power station, then you may dream of a career for your autistic daughter as a judge. But only if you bring her to a good professional who can bring her dormant capabilities to surface when she becomes five years old.
The white pie slice indicates the time that is spent by the child with his or her parents through life time, green indicates the time spent with his or her school teacher and red indicates the time that is prepared for by the white and green periods.
There is also a yellow pie slice as well. However, it is so thin, that it is invisible, but even more so important. It indicates 1001 hours that an autistic child needs to get in order to be happy and relatively independent in the red period. This yellow slice needs to be created by both the pair of parents constituted by a coroner and an engineer and the factory workers as well. There is no way around it. The sooner the child gets involved, the better chances the child has to attend a good high school and to earn a better living at a better workplace.
The judge – the autistic person who has better abilities – has relatively better chances to find a workplace that is suitable for his or her qualification. Those who do not have such abilities may find difficulty in doing so. And they are the majority.
In the preparation phase you and the teachers have to work in coordination to train the child for work. What is the worth of knowledge if there is no work ethics to support it? Work ethics is in vain when there is no boss to receive the autistic employees. If there is no workplace, there is no full life.
If you have money to create a workplace for your autistic child, then this is one of the best solutions. Why are these parents so brave to employ their own children? Because they know exactly what abilities their children have and how they can reap the fruits of these abilities.
More and more large companies want to get acquainted with autistic persons through the course of a multi-week selection procedure. Kristin Queen, a manager of Ford Company said: “When we started this program, we wanted to know how we can work with them and how we can maintain their employment.”
This is nice, but what does the situation look like in the local sewing factory or the chicken processing factory, or in the cucumber-field? How much money do they have or do they want to invest in getting to know the abilities of your autistic child? Guess. But what can one do in a small town in the white and the green section? You are the ones who have to present the knowledge of your child to the local employers.
In the beginning of September, my wife and I – being the teachers of our seven autistic pupils – asked their parents, whether they would like their children to perform real “hard work” among real workers - where the stakes are also real. Of course - they said, and then we started the organisation. We spoke to our bosses; we organized the travel, then, when everything was set up, we asked our friend Imre Fülep, whether he would allow our pupils to work in his fabulous apple garden. We also set out the condition that we are not going to watch a presentation, and we do not want to bring our students to pick only one apple a day, but rather to perform apple picking from the morning until the afternoon. Just as he would expect from anyone among his workers.
Now, try to walk a few steps in the shoes of Imi Fülep. The apple garden – that you established with years of hard work – is yours, and there are one hundred workers, picking apples – and your business partner will only pay for the apples if they are put into the containers properly. Is it risky for you to employ us? Surely it is! We may break, dent, step on your apples, we may tread your trees underfoot, break the branches and get on the nerves of your workers with our constant blabber.
That is why Imi also requested from us to present our guys to him verbally. Which areas they excel at, what tasks can be delegated to them? Even though an apple orchard is no car manufacturing plant, however there are hierarchical tasks as well, that need to be implemented precisely, otherwise “we would have no profit for the autumn”, and none for next year.
Imi: “I need to know what your students are good at. We do this with every worker. We can gain profit only if we delegate the right person to the right task.”
In the morning of the first day, Imi had a talk with them, then presented their tasks, the technique of picking, packing, sorting, designated the row of apple trees, however, he assigned the division of labour to us. This pre-work briefing was very popular among the guys. At the end of the day it has become clear which tasks our pupils are competent in. In the subsequent days they worked accordingly. We filled two-three containers per day - depending on the apple variety. After we had picked the daily limit, Imi evaluated the pupils’ work. He was quite content with the guys, the quality and the amount of the picked apples.
When they reach adulthood, some of them will be able to pick the daily average, some of them will be perfect sorters, and however, some of them would be able to work only with help.
One thing is for certain: our eldest pupil (who has the lowest study performance) who came to us at the highest age, who did not get his 1001 hours, will not be able to perform individually at a workplace may it be an inclusive workplace that fosters autistic people. And that will cost more.
Which is the key factor that an autistic child has to learn in his or her teenage years? It is: one has to work in life, because one needs money to go to the shop. And the pay check is served only when there are no crushed apples in the container bin.
Our work as teachers will only be effective if we will be able to start similar programs each year and if the parents assign responsible tasks to their children each day, as long as they are able to support them.