With time and coaching, Mark found the right job for his unique talents: cleanliness, order, and efficiency.

Working to Make Everything Fall into Place

Mark | February 9, 2018 | Family Care Client

“Mark”, a 29-year-old Family Care member, is a meticulous organizer and cleaner. This is obvious in his living space. His apartment is neat and tidy, with a spot for everything. Even his television and computer are covered to keep dust off them. There’s light wood everywhere which reflects the sun and he beams too when he talks about how he worked with a friend to re-do the space and when he talks about his job.

He has been working for more than a year at a trucking company as a janitor. He likes his job, and his employer is happy with his work, even giving him a bonus at the end of the year, but it hasn’t always been that way. It took a lot of time and coaching to find the right employment situation where Mark could put his unique talents to work in an environment that was right for him.

Learning to Manage Impulsivity

An individual with an intellectual disability, in previous jobs, Mark had a hard time managing his emotions when he didn’t feel like something was right. He quit a job once when he felt it was unsafe. He left another job because he didn’t think the employees spoke appropriately. He complained at another job when he felt they were working unsafely and threatened another employee.

He began to work with his care team to find ways to improve his reactions on the job. Instead of trying to solve an issue alone when he saw something on the job that he didn’t like, they worked with him to find ways to address the concern at a later time. Previously, when he worked at a restaurant, he began to write his concerns down in his notebook for later discussion instead of demanding that they be taken care of right away.

After that job, Mark began working with a job coach, a concept he had been resistant to previously. In addition to continuing to build systems that helped him manage his impulsivity, the job coach began to look for ways to get Mark into a job that was a better match for his skills and interests: organizing and cleaning. She also looked for a job where he would have less interaction with people, which led her to the trucking company that was looking for a janitor after hours, when there would only be a limited number of people onsite.

Finding the Right Fit

After an initial meeting to discuss his skills, Mark and the job coach did a walk-through at the trucking company shop with the supervisor who described the duties of the position. After he was hired, Mark and his coach continued to work together, creating a schedule for cleaning, talking through situations where Mark may have to make decisions, and modeling ways to begin conversations with other coworkers without being too invasive. Mark also identified specific areas within the shop that had been neglected and that needed deep cleaning, so they developed a rotating schedule to ensure that those items would get and stay clean long-term.

As he took on the job, his coach was with him at first and then slowly gave him more freedom to work on his own. At first, he needed to learn when to ask for help. Once while working alone, he saw a spot on the carpet and wanted to take care of it right away even though it wasn’t part of his regular routine. He chose a solution to clean it that had bleach in it, which damaged the carpet. The next day, he and his job coach met with human resources to discuss the error. They talked about writing it down in his notebook and getting approval before he handled something outside of his normal routine.

He has since noticed other things that he thought would benefit from attention, but instead of taking them on without asking anyone, he makes a suggestion first before varying from his routine. His employer has taken some of his suggestions, some involving cleaning, such as removing bugs from the light fixtures, and bigger improvements, such as replacing rugs with tile in a high-traffic area.

Mark has been at this job longer than he has worked anywhere else before. He likes to get there early and has learned to rework the order of his schedule. If people are still in their work areas, he works in another area, so he doesn’t bother them. He likes the way people respect what he does and finds it funny when people are afraid to step on the floor after he washes it. He realizes it will all get dirty again, and doesn’t mind.

In addition, he enjoys having the extra money to spend. But one of the things he likes best is the owners and the people he works with, calling them friendly and kind. He says they are similar to him in that they are “by the book” and have high standards. He says the owners treat their employees like family and he likes it when the other employees ask him what his plans are for the weekend.

Everything has really fallen into place for Mark. Just the way he likes it.