Autism Awareness Month:
April is Autism Awareness Month, which highlights the challenges, conditions and recent research on this developmental disability. Autism encompasses a distinct group of complex developmental disabilities. Symptoms can range from very mild to severe, including difficulty with social behavior, communication deficits, fixated interests, and/or repetitive behavior.
More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. Thirty-five percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or gone on to secondary education. Studies have shown that steady employment can help ease symptoms and improve functioning in daily living. Individuals on the Autism spectrum can often make excellent employees due to their careful attention to detail and quality of work. They just need to be given the opportunity.
Starting a Career: Cameron’s Story
Cameron Sonneborn is a young adult with Autism that works at PRIDE Industries’ Roseville, CA facility. He is the second person in his family to work at PRIDE Industries; his grandmother was a case manager back when it was a small operation on Berry St. in Roseville. “We loved the idea of him coming here,” says Frances Sonneborn, Cameron’s mother. “We didn’t have to worry about Cameron being judged for his disability. At PRIDE, there is only acceptance.”
PRIDE is Cameron’s second job. He earned his first job as a weekend busboy at a local diner in 2009 – the first in his high school Workability Program to do so. Typical tasks include clearing dishes, serving coffee and greeting the many regulars he sees on a weekly basis. His friendly attitude and strong work ethic have made him successful in this role which he continues to work at part-time. However, he decided to explore other career options, as well, after graduating high school. After a series of jobs in the community, Cameron found his way to PRIDE.
Cameron joined PRIDE Industries in the summer of 2013 as a hand packager. He works on a variety of different contracts for PRIDE’s customers. “One of my favorite tasks was sorting jellybeans. President Reagan used to like those!” says Cameron. He is very interested in history, especially in the presidents of the United States and has an impressive recall of each and every one. Individuals with autism are often very detailed focused. This attention to detail aids him in his work and can be depended upon for quality results.
Cameron aims to work, eventually, on more advanced tasks but is happy in his current position for now. He greatly enjoys socializing with his coworkers and friends, some of whom he has known since high school. “Cameron didn’t talk much as a child,” says his mother, Frances. “We have noticed that his vocabulary and confidence have grown as a result of his employment with PRIDE.”
Employment opportunity has allowed Cameron to start a career that he enjoys; we are glad to have him as part of the team. “You can recognize Cameron by his friendly demeanor and his collection of different colored sunglasses,” says Maria West, Cameron’s case manager. “He is always positive and a great member of the team.” PRIDE is proud to employ and encourage individuals like Cameron providing the opportunity to grow in their lives.