How My Son With Autism Found Success With His Own Business
When Dominic was first diagnosed with autism at 2.5, I truly had no idea what would happen when he turned 18. Would he go to college? Would he live in a residential facility? Would he have a job? It is so hard to predict the future for any of your children, but especially for those with higher support needs.
We are nearing the two year anniversary of Dominic’s baking business, “Baked Goods By Dominic.” I have spent the past few days thinking about that. I read recently that just 32% of adults with autism have paying jobs. That means there are 68% that are not employed. That is a huge number. I have told more than one person since Dominic’s business started, it’s not like someone was going to knock on our front door when Dominic turns 18 and say, “hey, I’m here to offer Dominic a job!” We had to create an opportunity for him.
Living in Michigan, he can be in the school district until he is 26. We had a choice to make last year. He could wait until he aged out of the school system or have him graduate with his typically-developing peers in June of 2022. My husband and I discussed it and decided that we wanted him to graduate with his typically-developing peers in June.
Dominic first started special education services in the school system when he was 3. Putting my “baby” on the school bus that first day was very difficult. To my knowledge, he has never been bullied. I like to say that he travels around in his protective bubble at school. When we go places in town, we almost always run into someone that says, “hey Dominic!” He has had amazing teachers, parapros, therapists, etc. and I am personal friends with many of them. Each and every one of them has had a part in getting Dominic to the point he is now.
In the Fall of 2021, he started working at a local business doing custodial work. He is able to tell the hubby and I every day when he hops off the bus what he did. It has been amazing to watch how much confidence he has in himself when he can tell us. When Dominic turns 18, we will seek full guardianship of him. As much as we had hoped he could make his own decisions, we also have to be realistic. My husband and I have to do what is in his best interests.
Dominic’s business hit 150 orders within the first year. When we first started out nearly two years ago, it reminded me of when Dominic was first diagnosed with autism, I had no idea what the future would hold for the business. When my dad unexpectedly passed away three weeks after the business started, it was devastating, even more so because we couldn’t travel from Michigan to Maryland for the funeral because of COVID.
In early 2021, I started a Facebook page for Dominic’s business. He now has a huge online community that supports and encourages him and our family. I have already had parents reach out to me and want their children to work for Dominic. I have parents who have children newly diagnosed with autism tell me that Dominic’s business is an inspiration to them and gives them hope for their children. It makes my heart so full to hear that! As for the business, it is no longer a matter of if we will have a brick-and-mortar business, but when!
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