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Autism: Thoughtful Interactions

03 Apr

A few days ago I went shopping with my husband. As we approached the one mall, in the rain and sleet, I saw a sign that he had missed. “Event today,” at the pet store, it said. It didn’t stand out much, though, as their balloons weren’t floating due to the rain. “Event at the pet store!” I said to him as we walked towards the mall doors. “What?” he responded, and I pointed to the sign.

We walked through the doors, and I was in Heaven! Dogs everywhere! I guess people had brought their purebred dogs to the event to show about the different breeds. They were all in the center of the hallway in exercise pens (except the largest, who were just being held on their leashes.) Of course I had to visit them all (I am very social when it comes to dogs, though I ignored all but one person.)

Thankfully my husband understood this about me, and allowed me to go up and down the hallway saying hello to each individual dog. What a great event!

The one person I did talk to had been the interpreter for a deaf student in my Women in Trades program. Of course, I pet her dogs before, and during the time I talked to her. That made it much easier to talk. “I should have taken the RV Tech course,” I told her.

During our gateway program, the three of us had attended a ‘Shadow day’ together at the main college 1.5 hours drive from home. We spent half the day shadowing the RV Tech course, and all of us were impressed. Afterwards, the interpreter said that if I took that course, she would too – only it was in a different city, and I couldn’t get there every day. I couldn’t afford to commute, even if I could make myself drive it every day, and I couldn’t afford to live apart from my family for ten months. So I declined, much as I thought I would enjoy the course.

The interpreter told me that (the deaf student) said the same thing. She hadn’t done so well in the course she took (which completely surprised me as she was super smart – we thought she would excel at it – apparently the instructor didn’t believe in ‘women in trades,’ which I believe as she was really smart, as I mentioned.)

Too bad.

I ended up taking Residential Construction, and helped build a house as part of the course, since that was offered in my city. I did very well in the course, but… the yelling, and swearing, and weight of the material, and pace – all were far too exhausting for me, and I only worked in that field about 4 weeks total (in two different jobs) after finishing (with honours, no less.) It was too much, and I couldn’t do it any more. In fact, for all of those 4 weeks with the exception of the first day on each job, I was seriously praying to get into an accident, or fall of the truss table, or something to provide an excuse that I wouldn’t have to go back – it was that bad.

ResCon

The thing that impressed all of us about the RV tech course, was how calm everyone was. The pace was much slower, yet they learned so much more (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, even some welding.) Several of the people in the class were even being retrained after they had bad back injuries at their previous jobs in construction – so the weight, pace, and even back issues did not stop them from being able to do the job.

Plus I love small spaces. In my last job at the motel, my favourite place in the entire building was about the size of a small walk in closet. On one side it had a stacking washer and dryer, and the laundry tub. On the other side were all the clean, folded towels for the rooms, and cleaning rags for housekeeping. In the center were two doors – one leading to the guest laundry, and through to the back rooms; the other leading to the motel kitchenette (we provided continental breakfast) and the office.

On my breaks, I would bring in a chair, and sit in that closet with both doors closed – until they took out one door for the sake of ‘efficiency’ and I felt exposed in there.

My point is, had I been able to do it , I really believe I would have really enjoyed the RV Tech course, and I likely would have even very much enjoyed working in that field afterwards. At the very least, I would have learned all the skills I wanted for my home, though on a smaller scale. But I couldn’t get there. Plus my husband liked the idea that as a carpenter, I would have started at the pay scale that a typical journeyman RV Tech would have expected at the end of their apprenticeship.

Well, now I am unable to do either – and as I have said in the past, my dreams nearly always exceed my abilities, so I guess it is just as well. But it would have been nice to have a job I could do, and enjoyed doing.

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