John's Day at Work

Workers can arrive at the work location (Desert Survivors plant nursery) anytime between 8 and 9 am. I deliver John as close to 9 am as possible, to avoid idle situations (they just sit around and wait) to prevent potential inappropriate interactions.

8:55 am - check in with job coach, who first reads the communication book then helps John store his lunch.

9 am - get right to work. This might be moving plant containers, shoveling top soil, repairing fences, digging ditches, pulling weeds, or cleaning up the grounds. Sometimes there are projects that might take a week or so to complete. John likes these, because of the consistency and predictability, but he does okay with just going in and seeing what is going to be done that day.

10 am - short break. John has his bottle of juice and a snack that he brings from home. Bathrooms are nearby, so John can be watched to and from.

12 noon - one hour lunch. Sometimes they eat outside at a picnic table under a ramada, or they might eat inside with other groups. John does best if he just stays with his own group. This is John's chance to chatter to his heart's content.

1 pm - back to work.

2 pm - wind up work for the day, put things away. Job coach writes in John's book, then they go to the pick-up area, where John continues to be supervised until he is picked up. Workers can be picked up between 2 and 3, John gets picked up around 2:15 or 2:30. His work day is about 4 hours a day.

Since they work outside, if someone has an outburst, it is not as overwhelming as it would be inside. The grounds are spacious, so the groups are not that close to each other, but within sight of each other. The manager and director are available at all times, in case one of the job coaches needs assistance.

John stays with the same group each day, but they do seem to switch groups around, and job coaches too. There is not much consistency, but since they know this is important to John, he usually gets to stay with the same group and same job coach. John does not mind having workers come and go from his group. He works with all males, but there are female workers and job coaches on site, and everyone knows everyone else, and all job coaches are aware of John's issues.

The job coach records target behaviors on a log that is kept in the VocRehab records at the work location for regular review at team meetings. The job coach also reports all target behaviors in the communication log on the day they occur, so John gets immediate feedback and receives a daily reward or consequence at home to reinforce desired social behaviors.

John doesn't really need motivation to work other than getting to do real "man work" with tools. He likes this kind of work and takes pride in the projects that have results. He receives lots of encouragement from his job coach when he works with cooperation and proper social behaviors. The two main goals are to improve productivity and to minimize inappropriate social behaviors.

I think it is working well because the job coaches really enjoy their work and are committed to helping the employees succeed. It's not just another job until they can get a better one, they really like helping John learn his job skills and watching him succeed.

Teresa Kellerman

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