Only certain disabilities need apply

Categories: Family

Minneapolis novelist Ann Bauer today has a column in the Washington Post describing her efforts to help her 19-year-old son, who is autistic, get a job. It's a fine, bittersweet commentary on trying to navigate life's milestones with a child whose world is ordered a little differently. In one of the most gut-twisting passages, Target rejects the young man because his handicap isn't "visible."

I took Andrew to Target, a company known for its history of working with disabled people. Only there's a catch: I was told when I called that their policy was to employ "visibly handicapped" workers. People in wheelchairs qualify, as do those with Down syndrome. My son, with his eccentricities and halting speech, does not. What's more, Target administers a computerized psychological screening test designed to eliminate people on the outer edges of the bell curve. People like Andrew....


...My son is one of many: Some time in the next decade, the Autism Society of America estimates, the number of people in this country who have autism will hit 4 million. I wonder if, when these children reach the age of 18, they too will be unemployable. Or if, perhaps, the work we're doing with Andrew now will mean a different experience for those who follow.

Read the whole thing here.


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