Every parent of a special education student knows that it can be hard during the long break off of school for our kids (as well as those parents with typically developing kids). Some students lose important life skills like socializing with their friends so they retreat into their own world. Some students lose gains that they made in speaking out loud to others. There are also those challenges of just finding something for them to do that is constructive instead of sitting at home and playing video games all day. Special education students often rely on the routine and structure of school to keep him/her focused and motivated to work hard. In fact, it can be very depressing to watch your child deteriorate over the long winter break before Christmas and through the New Year.
Gus, a 15-year-old, non-verbal, student with Autism, found a great way to spend his Christmas break (a very long 18 days). During his last several trips to the Brown Dog Cafe, in addition to his visits there as a part of the Coffee Cart Program at Cotopaxi High School, Gus has learned to independently wash, rinse, sanitize, dry and return the dishes to there correct spots in the Cafe. He has also learned to stock missing items, clean bathroom floors with a mop and empty out the trash bins. This has given him the opportunity to fine-tune his job skills and as an added bonus, he gets the chance to interact with customers and staff at the Brown Dog Cafe. He feels so empowered and confident when he is working.
Today, while he took some dirty dishes from customers, a lady customer told the Manager, “He is doing a great job!” and asked the Manager if she could give him a $10 tip! Gus was all smiles while working at the Brown Dog Cafe. Putting the Coffee Cart Program’s lessons into action and using job skills like communication, teamwork, great attitude, and enthusiasm, have given him an excellent reason to get off the holiday couch and get to work!! See Gus in action on our facebook page here.