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Voices of Self-Advocates: Newsline is interested in bringing you the reflections of self-advocates who provide rich insights into their lives as persons with disabilities. In this issue, we hear from Jarrod Weber, a young man who has Aspergerís Syndrome Disorder. If you are a person with a disability and would like to share your story for publication, please e-mail your contribution to beth@fcsn.org. Submissions should be no longer than 500 words. The Federation reserves the right to edit your contribution.

Working K9 to 5: A Great Way to Make a LivingÖ
By Jarrod Weber

Itís 10:05 on Monday morning and Iím on my way to my neighborís house to walk their four dogs. This isnít the first job Iíve had. I tried other jobs, but I didnít like most of them. I wanted to work in a video store, because my favorite hobby is watching movies. I tried it one day, but I didnít like it because instead of watching movies I had to clean the shelves.

In 2004, I had a job coach who helped me figure out what I wanted to do and develop job goals. Now I have my own dog-walking business named K9 to 5. This is the best job because Iím my own boss. I like working with dogs because their schedules are like my schedule. . . theyíre fed at the same time every day and need to go out at the same time.

The owners of these particular dogs are Jean and Angie. They help other adults with disabilities find jobs. Jean works for PRIDE, Inc. and Angie works for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

When the leaves start to fall, I do yard work for Jean and Angie, and some other neighbors. I blow leaves, bag them, and put them out to the curb for pick up. I make a lot more money during the fall, which means I can buy more movies. In addition to watching movies, I like to watch TV shows that rate new movies. I go to Best Buy on Tuesday mornings when the new movies are released. The manager told me that Iím helpful to the other customers because I let them know the best movies to buy.

Having a job coach helped me figure out what I like to do, and turn it into a job. Itís great not to be stuck doing work I donít like. If you donít like your job, you should see about getting a job coach to help you figure out what you do like and how to make it into a job. Now I have money to do the things I like. I also participate in community events. Every year, I volunteer at the James Joyce Ramble Childrenís Race. I help lead the runners around the racecourse. I like it because I get a free t-shirt.

I hope one day to have a larger business so that I can make more money, buy a new bike, and get an apartment.

Learn more about job coaching at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (www.mass.gov/mrc) and at PRIDE, Inc. (www.prideinc.org).