Mathias works and Xavier is doing an internship to become a barista through a Carrefour jeunesse-emploi program. We have been going through all kinds of steps since he was 16 years old so that he could work. It’s been quite a journey: drafting his CV and taking it with him, the rejections before the interviews, the rejections after the interviews…
It’s a learning process for us, and it’s very hard for Xavier. Ever since he was little, we have been constantly informing those around us and the school about Xavier’s particularities. Things have always been organized around him to make his environment more welcoming. But what about jobs? I’m not going to go with him to an employer to explain how Xavier works!
We have equipped him as much as possible to prepare him for the job market. Last year, we accompanied him right to the door of the business. He would go by himself to meet the managers. It didn’t work out. This year, Xavier saw his little brother in Secondary 3 head off to work. That made him even more excited.
He started working at IGA. After two or three weekends, he was told that it was over. I went to see the manager to find out what had happened. He didn’t know that Xavier was autistic and assured me that things would have turned out differently had he known. We then went over the situation with our son. Xavier had to tell his employers that he was autistic, to express his condition in his own words, without devaluing himself. At 17, you are at the end of adolescence, your identity is not complete and autism does not make it easy to make friends and have social relationships. Xavier realized that he needed help finding a job. So we started working with Carrefour jeunesse-emploi and, this summer, Xavier got internships as a barista in cafés! I knew that there were organizations that supported people who needed help with speech therapy and occupational therapy. I found out that there was also assistance available with integrating people with disabilities into the workforce. It was such a relief! Next year, Xavier will be 18 years old. Will he be able to earn a living one day? I feel at a crossroads.