Stories

Daniel and the Parro

Daniel: He's just like you and me. Only different.

Daniel has excellent language skills but trouble with individual interactions. Eye contact is difficult because if he concentrates on looking at a person, he loses focus on the conversation. He is a strict rule follower but simple social skills escape him. He repeats jokes but does not understand sarcasm. He never forgets movie lines. Being incredibly blunt is often interpreted as rude.

If you know someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder all this makes absolute sense.

Daniel has Asperger’s Syndrome—a developmental disorder affecting the ability to socialize and communicate effectively. After attending Ouachita Baptist University, he earned his Masters Degree in Multi-media Journalism. His goal is a career in programming.

Daniel wanted a full-time job with benefits, but he also wanted one where he could work a night shift in order to continue taking programming classes. LaunchAbility found him a job at the Neiman Marcus Fulfillment Center in Irving that met his needs. They also helped him through all phases of the interview process.

Lacking traditional social skills as a child, Daniel was diagnosed with ADHD on 3 separate occasions. Then, as a college senior in 2005, a psychologist finally made the proper diagnosis—Asperger’s Syndrome. That not only made sense to the family but was, in many ways, a relief. As Daniel put it when referring to persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder: “We are as uniquely different as everyone’s hair color. We are all born with a different way of thinking than a “Neurotypical” individual. Even my own mother has only recently begun to truly understand me. And she’s known me since birth.”

Daniel is smart, focused and incredibly hardworking. He needed LaunchAbility to help open doors for him and guide him through ongoing communication challenges.

“Daniel stepped into a job where he was part of a team and had to learn to communicate with supervisors and peers,” said Amy Castaneda, LaunchAbility Employment Consultant Supervisor. “He brings an amazing level of efficiency and attention to detail. They are incredibly grateful to have him.”

While the majority of employers allow LaunchAbility employment consultants to work directly on site with their clients, Neiman Marcus procedures prohibit non-employees from being on premises. So Amy and Daniel speak over the phone or meet off site to discuss any issues. “It is nice to have someone to call and Amy makes herself available whenever I am stressed and need help,” said Daniel who currently spends most of his day sorting and scanning items. When he talks about his job it is easy to see the pride he takes in getting it right. “Daniel is extremely intelligent. A dedicated and diligent employee,” said Amy. “We look forward to watching him grow and helping him any way we can to reach his dreams.”

During his HR interview for his job at Neiman Marcus, Daniel felt the need to explain why Amy was there with him. “Basically” Daniel said, “she’s here in case I say weird things. She’ll tell you why I do what I do.”

How’s that for blunt honesty?

Daniel Daniel tells it like it is.