Computer Programming – the Perfect Job for Young Man with Asperger’s Syndrome

Joseph Show photo

Tallahassee, FL – “When I was younger,” Joseph Show (right in photo) explains, “doctors told my parents that I would never graduate high school or hold a job or live on my own. Thank goodness our family is stubborn so we didn’t listen to them. With a little hard work and perseverance, I graduated with honors from FSU with a bachelor’s degree in information technology and am working full time for a computer programming company at the Department of Health.”

As you can see, a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, didn’t slow Joseph down. Although he had difficulty understanding boundaries, issues with short-term memory, and a learning disability in math, he was determined to go to college and get a four-year degree. He began attending Tallahassee Community College to get his AA degree, but realized he needed some help to continue so he came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). VR helps people with disabilities get or keep a job.

He met with VR Counselor Lynn Picolo to go over his career goal. After a little tweaking of his initial goal due to his math disability; Joseph became the first person in his family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. It took him 18 months after graduation to find just the right job, but now he’s happily working for Keith Rowe at Cornerstone Software Services. He is a software developer, responsible for several mission-critical websites at the Department of Health.

“Four days a week I work at the Department of Health under the company’s contract, and one day a week I work with Keith to train on whatever else I need to know so I can do the job better,” says Joseph. Keith designed this schedule to help Joseph transition into the working world. “When he first started working for me, I had to lecture him like a professor. The goal was to get him more independent so we asked him to do more problem-solving on his own. We’re teaching him how to be a better employee in the workplace.”

Keith has seen a remarkable improvement in Joseph. “We went from helping him frequently to providing him direction and letting him do it himself. We’ve always treated him like any other employee. And once he was doing more on his own, his productivity went up and we offered him a raise.”

Lynn is proud of how far Joseph has come on his journey. “He did everything I asked him to do. It took longer than we thought, but he got there. Since he got the job, he’s also gotten his driver’s license and a car, and he’s looking to move out on his own. Over the years, I saw a young man who was very timid blossom into a very confident adult who is now planning the rest of his life.”

Joseph loves his job and is glad that Lynn and Keith pushed him to do his best work. “Working with Lynn was definitely a great experience. She’s a no nonsense woman who will tell you what you need to know whether you want to hear it or not. She was patient with me and helped keep me on target. She did an excellent job in helping me, and I’m forever grateful for her helping me get where I am today.”

For the employer who may be a little wary of hiring someone with a disability, Lynn hopes to calm those concerns. “People who are on the [autism] spectrum love to keep learning, that’s why they enjoy computer programming.” Keith agrees. “I would tell them to do some assessment first and have very clear parameters of what you want done. I’m very proud of what Joseph and I have accomplished.”

About Vocational Rehabilitation
Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website, http://www.FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 89 offices across Florida, and last year helped 7,214 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit http://www.Rehabworks.org.