Jan 15, 2014 0 Share

Downsizing Dilemmas

3-D figure with pink slip on chest, standing on box marked with X.

There are many different scenarios in working as a Supported Employment Manager with adults with autism. The best-case scenario is for everyone on my caseload to be employed with jobs working full time, or even two different part-time jobs working a full day. The worst-case scenario is that no one on my caseload is employed, or to have to pull individuals out of a jobsites that they liked. With my job, both scenarios are something I have to deal with and think about every day. 

One situation happened when I was first hired. There were two individuals who had been working at a grocery store for a few years when they were assigned to me. The store loved both of the individuals and the staff that was working with them. One of the individuals stocked the dairy products and the other individual worked outside collecting carts. When a new store opened across the street, the store we partnered with started slowly cutting back the individuals’ hours to give other people more hours. The individuals went from working two days per week for six hours to only working four hours for two days, to only working one day per week.  

Needless to say, once the new store opened, it hurt our partner’s business in a big way. Now the individuals worked on a “call-as-needed” basis, and typically worked only one day per month. These were two individuals used to working all the time. Even though they each held another part-time job, they found themselves with nothing to during half of the work week. We needed to train them for new jobs, while searching for new employment opportunities for them. So I went to the other part-time employer to see if more hours were available. Fortunately, this employer was a well-known gym chain and had new gyms opening up in the area.  

Having to pull individuals out of jobs that they enjoyed was very hard. However, if they are only working one day per month, it is often not worth it for them to keep those positions. And it never hurts to ask for more time with a part-time employer because they may need the individuals and not even realize it until the idea is mentioned. The key part of my job is to avoid getting upset when these scenarios come about, because they are going to happen. I just need to “roll with it,” and work around it the best I can.