Autism in the Workplace: Lucas’ Story
High school student, Lucas, loves his part-time job at Meridian Meats & Seafood. Through Canucks Autism Network (CAN) and Ready, Willing, & Able (RWA), Lucas was able to access on-the-job supports at Meridian to help him increase his confidence and find success in his work.
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[Lucas Taillefer] I’m 17 years old, and I am in grade 12. Being a high schooler can be very rough.
For me, my detection of social cues can be very bad or very good.
Autism is like a different point of view. Sometimes I’m like a wide lens camera, seeing everything, taking it all in at once. Or I’m narrow, tunnel vision, I can only see one thing at a time and I focus completely on that one thing.
My name is Lucas Taillefer, and I started working at Meridian Meats in 2020.
My favorite part of my job has to be my co-workers. I love working with them.
Meridian Meats has been very supportive of me as an autistic individual.
[Annette Borrows] I personally believe that every person has the right to employment. But I also believe that all employers deserve the right employee.
Supported employment is a person-centered approach to support people with any kind of a disability to prepare, obtain and maintain competitive paid employment.
Youth with disabilities are often left out of the labour market. By the time you’re 40, you’ll have 14 different jobs.
And that journey needs to start early and it needs to start for everyone.
[Lucas Taillefer] Hey Cameron.
[Annette Borrows] Cameron is an employment specialist at Inclusion Langley Society.
[Lucas Taillefer] Cameron was my job coach and he’s amazing at his job. It’s very good to engage in conversation with him.
Helping me with stuff in the moment, talking with my co-workers, working with customers.
[Cameron] You had a secret shopper come in. 99.3%. 10 out of 10 accuracy, speed and you made them feel welcome.
[Annette Borrows] There’s an aspect to a job where there’s a whole bunch of unwritten rules in a workplace. And for some Autistic people that can be very confusing.
[Lucas Taillefer] Having a job coach was really beneficial actually, it helped me feel like there was someone that I can lean on to their shoulder, it helped me decompress.
[Daniel Engel] I’m the store manager at Meridian. The family atmosphere, yeah it’s, it’s a good atmosphere to work for, you know.
One of the owners, his son has autism, and through his involvement
with Canucks Autism Network, and he’s seeing the positive impact that organization has on his son, he introduce CAN to Meridian and to us managers.
When hiring Autistic individuals the end goal is the same as with every employee; to have the people a full member of our workforce.
[Lucas Taillefer] Working at Meridian has given me so many opportunities to grow when I started working in the front.
Talking to people, wrapping customers products, and just generally socializing, and my social anxiety has all but disappeared.
[Annette Borrows] There should be no exclusion in employment. The best part of my job is when an individual that I’ve supported to find that good match for employment tells me about their success, what employment has truly, truly meant for them.
[Lucas Taillefer] Having a part time job is amazing, a blessing. I feel that all high schoolers should have a part time job so they have that work experience for going into the future.
I am graduating in less than three weeks, I hope to secure more shifts at Meridian, so I can build up my income, focusing on my career of pursuing graphic design.
[Annette Borrows] Inclusion Langley Society has been a partner with Ready, Willing and Able and Canucks Autism Network since the inception of RWA.
RWA and CAN will find those gems of employers that are looking to diversify and I think the best way to expand your workforce is to have a lived experience. When you’ve hired people with disabilities or Autistic individuals and said, “that was a really good decision I made.”
[Lucas Taillefer] Something that I wish people would know more about autism is that it’s not a detrimental thing.
It’s a different point of view. It gives people a lot of variety, change, creativity. I think that’s actually sort of beautiful.
If everyone had the same perspective, the world would be very boring.