An easygoing guy, with a great sense of humor, Chris truly enjoys his job at J’Ollies, a local restaurant where he is responsible for a variety of essential tasks, from busing tables and cleaning floors, to sorting silverware and prepping food portions. And given his upbeat personality and dedicated effort, Chris’s co-workers have quickly embraced him as an integral part of the J’Ollies team, going out of their way to encourage his success.
But as his job coach, Janet Simmons, will tell you, the road to employment hasn’t always been an easy one. “For one thing, Chris is profoundly deaf, and until recently was unable to use even basic sign language for communicating. Because of his limited communication, he had never received appropriate job training until he came here, even though he was perfectly capable of working.”
In preparing Chris for the workforce, Simmons and other Ardmore staff developed a system for communicating with him, which incorporated picture cards and a few simple signs. At the same time, he started building his resume with community volunteer work. So after a few months of intensive support and plenty of practice, Chris was ready to test-drive his newly acquired skills as a paid employee at J’Ollies.
It didn’t take long for Chris to get his job routine down pat; and while communication is still an issue at times, he is gradually mastering sign language, thanks to a student intern at Ardmore, who made it her mission to teach him as much as he could absorb over the summer.
“Chris has definitely found his happy place,” Simmons says. “He’s doing something he’s never been able to do before—earn a paycheck—and loving every minute of it.”