James Parker was born with a rare genetic disorder called Allen Herndon Syndrome. It affects every area of his life. James does not let these challenges deter him. He has used a wheelchair his entire life and drives wherever he wants to go. He has never spoken a word. He communicates with noises, eye contact, hand-shakes and lots of smiles. He also uses Assistive Technology.
Throughout school he attended regular and special education classes. James had a paraprofessional that helped him with eating and personal care while at school. James was a part of the school community. He participated in the graduation ceremony with his classmates. The school setting has played an integral role in helping James develop his social skills. The school taught James vocational skills that align with his goal of operating his own mobile shredding business.
His mom heard Cary Griffin, an employment specialist with Griffin and Hammis, at a Family to Family Network meeting. Cary shared some amazing stories of how individuals with disabilities were being employed through creative job placement. The emphasis was on discovering the individual’s likes and dislikes, by finding or creating jobs that they would enjoy. This inspired his family to begin thinking of how James could find employment. They were convinced that self-employment was the way to go.
The family invited friends and family to come together to develop a Person-Centered Plan. It helped James decide on a business that he would enjoy based on his preferences and abilities. Since James always loved putting objects into various types of containers, someone suggested that he start a mobile shredding business. James began working with his occupational therapist to learn how to shred on his own. The school worked with him on driving his wheelchair safely, following directions and on communication. James’ attendants support him each time he does a job. He also receives family support, including the purchase of a van which allows both wheelchair and shredder to travel together.
The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) accepted James as a client. They purchased his industrialized shredder, brochures and a banner with his business logo. Since self-employment is relatively new to Texas, DARS partnered with an employment specialist and outside consultants to create new policies for the state regarding self-employment for adults with disabilities. James is at the forefront of this movement.
Shredding on the Go is not just an ordinary shredding business. James’ business has taken off! He has hired 7 employees who also have disabilities. James’ customers are impacted by his outgoing personality and friendliness.
By working together, the family coordinated services across agencies. Take a look at our page on Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities: What’s After Public Education? Having a job was essential to making his adult life meaningful. James enhanced not only his quality of life by doing something he enjoys, but that of his seven employees as well. This is definitely a success story!
Take a look at our page on Careers for People with Disabilities for some suggestions on career options. We suggest you also check out the Rural Institute of Montana’s page on Employment Resources for additional ideas and resources.