I talked to one man who was autistic and had a great conversation with him. He said he has been working there during the season for a few years and he likes it. When I asked him what he did on his day off he told me that he works on “life skills.” I asked him to explain that and he said that he cleans the place that he lives, goes to the store, and does his laundry. He said that he liked getting a paycheck all on his own and spending money without anyone telling him what he could spend it on. He doesn’t have to pay rent or utilities because it came with the job. The only thing he spends money on is his supplies, food, and laundry.
Another park had a person with special needs working the cash register in the store. He would not make any eye contact with me but he was very friendly and willing to answer my questions. His answers were much like the man mentioned above.
I’m so glad the government is employing people with special needs because it helps them be more independent and raises their self concept. We aren’t supporting people with disabilities by saying they can’t hold a job and putting them on some governmental aid because of their disabilities. This belief in them helps raise the expectation that they could do more than most people realize, it helps expose more children and adults to others with disabilities. Children become more tolerant of people with differences and learn to socially accept them. I think this program is a successful and worthwhile program!
Photo credit: Grand Canyon National Park by elmada