Our company began when my son was turning eighteen and transitioning to adulthood. He said he wanted to be a chef in restaurant. Initially, I giggled and told him, “No you like to eat at restaurants.” Then I realized, no of course, he’d want to cook. He started a gluten/casien free diet when he was a toddler. 18 years ago, no one knew what gluten free was, so I pulled him up on the kitchen island and we baked. Baking and cooking are process driven. You follow the steps and in the end, you get a yummy reward. It’s very satisfying work for him.
Being a chef would’ve been impossible. He wasn’t verbal enough to make it through an interview. If a restaurant would take a chance on him, he’d be relegated to the dishwasher. He has an incredible palate and like most people on the spectrum amazing detail and process skills. A dishwashing position would be a waste of his potential and most likely a disaster.
All parents want their children to grow to be happy fulfilled people. My husband and I had to make career choices that paid the bills and supported the family. When helping our children plan their futures, we stressed to want more than money. You want to do something interesting. You want to feel like you are doing is something useful. You want to feel like your work is needed, that need gives you a feeling that you are important. Your work adds to your self-worth.
To live the life you want to, to enjoy your work and feel validated is important for everyone but especially for someone with special needs. Work has to be enjoyable, otherwise it’s another tedious task in a world that doesn’t always make sense. So, with a lot of hope and hustle we decided to make his dream of being a chef a reality and give other people’ s children an opportunity for meaningful work as well . In this process, I’ve gained a few pounds and realized I hate frosting , but I’ve found meaningful work.