I had two big “firsts” this week. Monday morning was my first day at my first full time job at Autism Speaks. About three weeks ago I received a call offering me a full-time position starting in the middle of March as a Social Marketing Coordinator.
The other first was that I announced the date of my first book called “Defining Autism from the Heart,” a self-published volume which should be released on April 15th. This is a project I’ve been working on for a long time, which I was so grateful to finally have finished. The fact that the release date is set for the middle of April—which is Autism Awareness Month—made it even that more significant.
It has been an incredible week I’d have to say. Both events were great, which also reminded me of a bunch of other firsts in my life.
My first kiss.
My first “A” on a report card.
My first diploma.
My first car.
My first college acceptance letter.
The list of firsts seems to go on and on.
Through all of this, I thought about the firsts that many adults with autism aren’t getting in terms of employment. One of my parents’ favorite movies when I was growing up was a movie called “Dave,” in which a look-alike takes over for the president after a health condition leaves the current president disabled. In the movie, the look-alike discusses his plan to make sure everyone in the United States has a job. And of course in the movie, those dreams are realized. The type of dreams that I have.
This is something I wish we could do for the autism community. Research indicates that adults with autism continue to experience high levels of unemployment. I find this unacceptable. These individuals need the chance to have a trial run; to have their first paid job in an area where they can benefit a company.
Just from my first day of work I realize how amazing it is to work for something and this should be available for many more adults today.
This leads me to the last “first” I hope will happen soon for me. I plan to be the first president of a nonprofit organization called KFM Making a Difference. I am the founder of KFM. Although we are still waiting for the IRS to give us our nonprofit status, I hope to soon help adults with autism get their first jobs. I wanted to start this organization in part to help advocate for adults with autism in businesses and to help them get a foot into the door.
This first for me, I hope in the future, will be a huge first for someone out there who needs it. In the meantime I continue to look towards the future and remind myself to be grateful for everything that has happened so far.