October 27, 2011

White Dog is certain not many people are aware that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The White Dog Army probably would not know it either if Michael did not live with us. For those of you new to us, Michael is my 19-year-old nephew who has autism.

One of the most wonderful things that has happened since he came to live with us almost two years ago is that the White Dog Army has taught him how to be more confident and to be proud of who he is...and not be ashamed. As Quinn tells him, "Everyone has some kind of disability. I have bad hips; Nuka is deaf; YoYoMa is blind; momma needs a wheelchair." Building a family and shoring each other up has been a most satisfying adventure for all of us.

Yesterday was a day of great reward. Michael who is in a community transition post high school program attended his first day of "work." Well, not work exactly but an internship at a small art gallery downtown. This was a "job" that he worked up a resume for, interviewed a couple of times, passed a practicum performance test...and won. He did it himself, not through any contacts or special favors; he was simply the best applicant for the position.

All of the White Dog Army was awake and in review line when he came up ready for his day dressed in khakis, a button-down shirt, belt, and dress shoes. He looked marvelous and best of all, he was comfortable! Part of his illness makes Michael stress about clothing that is tight or hugs his body; he is most comfortable in sweatpants and a t-shirt. But here he was, shiny as a new coin, beaming with excitement!

Each of the White Ones approached him and gave him head butts or licks, or body presses for good luck and then he was off to take the public bus (another relatively new step toward independence). The WDA watched in amazement as he disappeared down the street.

When he returned, he was besieged by Eskies wanting to know what he had done, how it had gone. He quickly told them that he had worked at the front desk as a greeter and had handed out programs of the current exhibit (Super Heroes). Then he quickly rushed downstairs to change into "normal" clothes.

Granted, this is only an internship but to Michael it is a job...and validation that he CAN succeed. The White Dog Army sends special blessings to the decision maker who gave Michael this chance, it may very well change a life.

Of course, we all celebrated once Steve came home.


Kari in Vegas said...

This is a VERY important thing for us all to be aware of

Stop on by for a visit

bichonpawz said...

What a wonderful post! Your White Dog Army is doing some wonderful work!! I read your post over on 24 Paws of Love and my heart just broke for you...having to make that final decision when you didn't have a chance to say goodbye to Sheena. My heart breaks for you. I lost my Zippo a year ago in May and still miss him every single day.

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Oh well done Michael. You should be feeling very proud of yourself. Hugs all round to the White Dogs too for helping and of course, your mum and dad. Take care all. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

KB said...

Congratulations to Michael! That is a big accomplishment. I'm glad that he has you and WDA to support him.

I hope that you're feeling better after being sick a couple of days ago. Dogs are very comforting at times like that, aren't they?

Amber DaWeenie said...

This is a big step for Michael. We all know he will be very successful in everything he does as his confidence in himself grows!


Brian said...

That is terrific and please tell Michael that his far away friends are very proud of them too!

Remington said...

Congrats Michael!

Prints the Cat said...

Mom likes t-shirts and sweatpants/gym pants, too!

Congrats to Michael!

Mr. Pip said...

We are so happy for Michael! What a huge accomplishment. The things that make us different are also what make us special and unique. Wouldn't life be boring if we were all the same

Your pal, Pip

Bailey Be Good! said...

We did not know about National Disability Employment Awareness Month -- so glad you shared that! Congrats to Michael on his accomplishment! :)

Woofs & hugs, <3

~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

Jan's Funny Farm said...

Oh, that is good news of Michael. We hope he continues to enjoy his internship and to always remember he is valuable and productive.

Re your comment on Jan's costume. If we had let Jan wear bag shoes, she would have broken some bones shuffling down the street to get her picture taken. She couldn't even keep her bag hat on. :)

24 Paws of Love said...

I am soaring with you all. That was so awe inspiring. Congratulations to Michael and his GREAT accomplishment. I am almost breathless. So truly, truly wonderful. :)

Bailey Be Good! said...

Dropping off some weekend woofs & hugs! <3

~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

Sagira said...

I was not aware of that day. Sounds like Michael is doing awesome, we are all so proud of him.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

Please tell Michael how very proud we are of him and how happy we are too. He is so lucky to have you in his life.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Congratulations Michael!
Yea to the white dogs for all the help and love and support!!

And ,, I know what its like to wear uncomforable clothing,, because- I hate to wear my harness!

meowmeowmans said...

What a wonderful post, Sue! We're a little misty eyed here after reading about how much Michael is growing. Most of all, we are SO proud of him. Way to go, Michael!