Transition Success Story: James Williams III
Doctors once told James Williams’s parents their son should be institutionalized due to his severe intellectual disability and autism. Now 22, James is employed and has an active social life. He recently was offered a position working full time at a convenience store, where he is responsible for scanning the stock to let the manager know when they need more items in the store, in addition to ensuring that the aisles are neat and clean, and the shelves and magazine racks are stocked. He also works part time at the University of Maryland in the cafeteria, and has impressed his manager and supervisors with his work ethic. On weekends, James participates in a social club called The Weekenders with other individuals with disabilities, going to the movies and dinner theaters, bowling, playing board games, visiting museums, and other activities. He is also involved in a church group and the Special Olympics.
Keys to Success
James received more than 15 years of special education and behavioral intervention services at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Through the Institute’s specialized autism education program, James developed important life skills and participated in work-based learning. Throughout James’s childhood, his parents maintained high expectations for James. “Autism is a diagnosis, not an excuse,” is an oft-cited mantra of James’s parents, who insisted that James wash his own clothes, clean his room, make his bed, take out the trash, clean the bathroom, and vacuum the house. James’s family actively sought out vocational, employment, and social opportunities for James throughout the community.
“We are so, so proud of James for his achievements. Seeing where he was, compared to where he is now, he’s done nothing but make us very, very proud.”
—James and Sheila Williams, parents of James