This school year, Dolores, 19, a student at Ray Graham High School, will be busier than ever. In addition to her classes, Dolores just got a job at Tony’s Fresh Market with help from Urban Autism Solutions. Dolores bags groceries at the supermarket on Saturdays and Sundays.
It’s her first job, and Dolores says she likes it very much even though in the busy supermarket there never seems to be a break in the action. “It can be stressful, but it’s good,” she says.
Dolores takes public transportation to Tony’s, which is in the Portage Park neighborhood, from her home in Humboldt Park.
Images L to R: Dolores at Tony's, clocking in on her first day and at orientation.
Dolores was assisted in securing her job by Mike Tracy, co-founder and community outreach manager at Urban Autism Solutions. Mike and his team help job-ready students who have participated in programs at the UAS West Side Transition Academy get jobs in the community. The Academy provides services to help students prepare for the transition from high school to adulthood, including speech-language therapy, social-emotional and communication skills building and job readiness training for those who are good candidates for competitive employment.
Dolores participated in several job shadows as well as interviewing and resume workshops at the Academy in the months leading up to her new job at Tony’s.
“Dolores is an excellent candidate for competitive employment,” said Mike. “She has good communication skills, and is eager to work.”
Mike has had lots of luck securing jobs for young adults with autism and related challenges at supermarkets. “The job market at grocery stores is red hot right now,” he said. “These places are looking for good, hard workers exactly like our students at the Academy.”
Mike talked to the manager at Tony’s, who was receptive to the idea of hiring employees with autism. Within a few days, Dolores interviewed for the job and was made an offer.
Once she got the job, Mike helped her obtain a state ID card and open a bank account so her paychecks could be directly deposited. Mike will stay in touch with Dolores and her manager to ensure that everything continues to go smoothly and will help resolve any issues as Dolores continues her employment at Tony’s.