How a mom turned simplicity into a meaningful future for her son

Hello and Welcome to Picasso Einstein's #JobCreators blog! The purpose of this blog is to share helpful information and resources for individuals with developmental disabilities pursing self-employment. Additionally, we strive to share inspirational stories from #JobCreators throughout the world!

For our first blog we would like to highlight one of our favorite #JobCreators from Vermont; Purely Patrick. Patrick's story is not only inspirational; it also serves as a valuable lesson for all families who are supporting their child with a developmental disability pursue self-employment.

Please take note of the following from MaryAnne Lewis' article:

1) MaryAnne focused her attention on Patrick's ABILITIES; not his disabilities;

2) Purely Patrick is not a team of one. MaryAnne sought support for the business in their local community (for those of you that have taken our courses, "the business support team"). She secured job coaches and even a graphic designer to donate time to Patrick's business.

3) Lastly, MaryAnne did not overlook the sustainability piece. Yes, they have been able to launch the business but, she is still creating a plan to ensure that Patrick's future will not come to an end when she can no longer be a fundamental part of Patrick's business.

Bravo, MaryAnne Lewis!!!


By MaryAnne Lewis, Patrick’s mom

Patrick is a delightful young man who also happens to have cerebral palsy, and is totally blind and non-verbal. “What is Patrick going to do when he grew up?" was always a very sad thought for me through the years. So, I just kept thinking, “What are Patrick's strengths and things he enjoys, and how can we turn that into a business”?

Like all kids, Patrick goes through phases. At one point he was making "hand farts" constantly. So, I started thinking that Patrick could use those hand motions to make/mix bath salts in a small bag. Patrick has always used a pouring switch to help me in the kitchen and when watering plants. So we started using the pouring switch to pour bath salts into small containers and he sold them at school and our bed & breakfast. Unfortunately bath salts were "banned" in most states because kids were abusing them as "drugs" so we had to find a plan “B”.

Then I had the idea of LAYERED JAR RECIPES! I presented the idea to his teacher and she allowed his aid to come to our home 3 mornings per week so Patrick could start production. We used a graphic designer (who does a lot of Patrick's work pro bono) to design the tags, and the jars looked GREAT! At this point, Patrick was only selling his jars at school and our inn.

With some guidance, I wrote a business plan and feasibility study for Patrick’s business, and sent it to an Employment Specialist at an adult agency in our area. As a result, Patrick received funding for 25 hours per week of job coaching! The job coaches were put in place, and Patrick started selling his products at our inn, at Farmer's Markets and craft shows. Patrick’s job coach developed a website for his business and he now also sells his products on-line.

It has not always been easy. The job coaches provide basic training and I provide more specific training for Patrick’s needs. We have gone through several job coaches until we found the "perfect match" and schedule. Patrick truly enjoys working and assembling his products. He can frequently be heard singing “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go”.

What I am focusing on now is the sustainability of Patrick’s business long-term. Thankfully we live in a “tourist town” with lots of new people attending the weekly summer craft shows and the weekly summer Farmer’s Markets. We are trying to market avenues such as wedding favors, shower favors, etc.

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