Friday, November 4, 2011

Published on by Jesse Shepherd


Today I spent most of the morning and afternoon up at Vida Nueva, one of several programs of COTS, located in Rohnert Park.  One member of my small seminar dropped due to personal matters that came up.  After the seminar, I met with Sara Jones, my internship supervisor and we had a very long discussion about why the front desk position at the Mary Isaak Center ended.  She had a discussion with both Bill Hess, Operations Direcor and my former direct supervisor as well as Monica Savon, the executive director of MIC.  The following were reasons that lead to my dismisssal according to Bill:


(1)  I was having vision issues that may have lead to mis filing and distributing residents' mail.

(2)  I took the 27th off when I shouldn't have.  I was told to e-mail my direct supervisor as he ok'd this day off and then must have forgotten.

(3)  The other interns felt that I was pushing them away from the front desk rudely when my morning shift began.

(4)  I wasn't consistently marking residents' names off at noon when they finished their chore.  This was because I couldn't quickly assimilate faces with names--over a hundred residents.  

(5)  Having handed out a stack of blank COTS donation receipts to a female professional who had come in to hand out a stack of postcard fliers advertising an upcoming community event.  In this instant, I'm well aware now that I should have directed her to a manager.  I wasn't thinking about fraud.


And that was it.  Were these mistakes based on errors in judgement that anyone could have made or were they due to having Asperger's/NLD?   I was given the option by Sara to file a grievance against COTS, but I strongly went against that idea, feeling that it would surely affect any future placement opportunities.  Was I discriminated against, and if so, was it based on my vision?  Having Asperger's?  I disclosed both at the very outset of my internship so that no liability issues would come up.


Monica said that she was bugged when I presented her with what appeared to her as a problem.  My suggestion was to put in an intercom system that would allow whomever works at the front desk to page residents and staff.  This was only meant as an idea to improve tracking a ton of people and one I had seen implemented at another transitional housing shelter in Marin.  


Sara said that it was difficult for her to know where the problem was since she had heard different stories from Bill and me, but some of this could have been nothing more than a misunderstanding.  Sara is going to speak with her supervisor about what the best next placement will be, based on my vision, my having some form of Asperger's or NLD, and whether a family placement would be appropriate.  Monica suggested to Sara that I seek a new placement where there's more staff supervision which pretty much is a trust issue that sends a message saying, "he can't be trusted to do a job correctly."  But what the administration at MIC don't understand nor care to take into account is when they take on a volunteer with disabilities.  It is both discriminatory to not hire a volunteer based on their disability and a liability if they do.  It is also unfortunate that such employers don't take the time nor have the incentive to work with employees with disabilities.  They don't get paid and probably fear a lawsuit.  I don't want to sue.  I simply want to do a job well done on a weekly basis--and I want the support of managers who will work with individuals with disabilities.


Sara said she see's I have potential and so she mentioned that she would like to invest the time of working with me, with no guarantee that my next placement at COTS will be successful for me.  No guts--no glory.  Without the support systems I need in place however, I'm wondering what my chances of success would be.  I repeatedly told Bill (as I also told Sara) that I could see close up on a computer screen and that my vision issues only would occur if I had to either see at night or deal with distance vision.  He evidentally felt this was problematic enough to let me go.


My advanced supervision seminar will meet again in two weeks and I will meet again with Sara after the seminar.  We discussed my uncomfortability of taking on another placement at MIC for being visible by all staff and residents who would remember me and label me as "the intern who blew it".  I expressed to Sara that I would like to work with the Family Connection, but only if I could work with another intern who already knew about my Asperger's.  


At this point, I need to attend this month's AASCEND meeting to take place at City College of San Francisco to really find out what resources could be available that I don't already know about to help adults on the spectrum with employment and career issues. Hopefully, I'll be able to have some "new doors"




In my personal life, my developing friendship with Amber continues to concern me.  Two nights ago, we talked on the phone.  Then last night as I texted her to see how her day was, she ignored me.  In being concerned, I then called her when I didn't receive a text message back.  She didn't answer.  I left a message.  Then she abruptly texted me saying that she didn't want to be bothered because she was excited having a fun time with her daughter, I was taken aback by her gruff demeanor.  When we talked two nights ago, it was mainly for her to vent about her her day sucked.  I once again, miss her but also feel like this friendship becomes one-sided, like I'm used.  I don't want to feel this way about her and I don't want her to think that way.  But it seems to me that it's only convenient for her to call, text, or otherwise contact me when she needs to talk or vent.  Yet when I want to vent or talk, she shuts off and makes herself somewhat unavailable.  I never know when it's okay for me to take the lead in initiating contact with her.  I'm confused about a lot of boundaries and issues in this friendship that blur.  


I would ideally like to see and hang out with Amber every weekend or every other weekend.  What bothers me to no end is that I feel lately, she's putting me last in her life.  Her daughter comes first, followed by her work, fiollowed by her best friend Laura and her husband.  Then maybe, just maybe she might give me the time of day.  It makes me feel bad.  What if I have needs or want to be in touch with her more?  I can't.  She won't allow it and so I feel this friendship is "on demand" when she wants it, and only when she wants it.  I really don't know how to address this.  When we first met, she was quite accessible by e-mail.  I would e-mail her one day and then Amber would e-mail me the next.  In the last three weeks when I'd e-mail her, I get nothing back.  And sure--she is definitely busy.  But is there perhaps some reason why she's purposely not checking her e-mail?  I feel like I have no leverage, like she doesn't take my feelings into account and that it's ALL about her right now.  


Amber is the only female friend I have, and perhaps I wouldn't give a flying fuck about her nearly to the extent that I do if I had at least two other ACCESSIBLE female friends.  Alas, such is not the case.  Will Amber do a slow fade or will more become of this friendship?  If I just let things evolve organically or maurally, will we become closer friends?  How do I express to Amber that I'd really like to hang out with her more often--without irritating her?



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