Matthew is a young adult with Asperger's Syndrome. After graduating from high school in 2018, he made several attempts to gain employment as he transitioned from school to work life.
“People could not understand my disability,” states Matthew, “I have issues with socialization, and it was hard for people to understand that. I really have not overcome that challenge, but I am working on it every day. I joined a group to help improve my socialization skills.”
Matthew attended an open house at MassHire Springfield (an American Job Center) and connected with Disability Resource Coordinator Richard Berrena. Richard worked with Matthew to create a resume and develop his interview skills. Matthew shared: “Richard helped me through the process of trying to find the job that fit me.” Richard then approached Applied Light Manufacturing in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with the idea of Matthew doing a six-month on-the-job training as a part-time general labor worker. The employer was very receptive, and Matthew started in October 2019.
Before Matthew began working, he and his parents were introduced to Work Without Limits Benefits Specialist Winnie Siano for an extensive benefits planning session. Winnie addressed their questions regarding the impact of work on their son's eligibility for public benefits, including the continuation of his public health insurance. Additionally, she introduced them to the ABLE Account, which allows an individual with a disability to set aside money in a tax-advantaged account to be used to help meet qualified expenses. Matthew’s parents were very glad to have had the benefits planning session, as it provided critical information which enabled him to move forward with his employment opportunity.
Throughout the six months of the on-the-job training, there were regular check-in meetings among the employer, family, and the disability resource coordinator to address some challenges Matthew faced on the job. These were all resolved successfully with the assistance of a job coach provided by the MA Department of Developmental Disabilities.
Matthew successfully completed the training and was hired permanently by Applied Light Manufacturing in March 2020. Matthew’s goal is to “Learn how to do new things at the job I am at to enhance my future opportunities.”
Matthew’s Keys to Success
- Have a positive attitude
- Use an American Job Center
- Work with a disability resource coordinator
- Consult a Work Without Limits benefits specialist
- Use a job coach
- Take advantage of family support
For persons with disabilities:
“Try new things, if you don't like the job try something else and be very patient in the process.”
“Learn what their disability is and be patient with them as well.”