July 2018- Ashley Mathy

Ashley Walker 3

Why employment is so important to me

First let me introduce myself, I am Ashley Mathy and I have autism.  The reason why employment is so important to me is that I have personally struggled with finding a job that was a good fit for me and I have many friends that either cannot secure employment or have a job that is not a good fit. For me, I was in a job at a fast food restaurant in Milwaukee that didn’t match my abilities and my anxiety took over. You see, working a job you don’t like can impact your mental health and overall performance on the job and worse yet when you don’t have a job, depression can be a major issue.

With the help of my mom and leaders at Headwaters and Nicolet College, I was able to gain my confidence back, take some college classes and secure employment at the college.  Today, I work for the Executive Director of the college who reports directly to the President.  My job includes shredding, filing, labeling, sorting and when I am lucky I get to participate in speaking events.  I love my job!  When I am at work, I don’t think about my autism because my coworkers don’t treat me like I have a disability. They treat me like everyone else in the office and that feels AMAZING!  I want other people with disabilities to have this same feeling of being a person 1st and not defined by their disability.  In the past year, I have been advocating for employment by speaking and helping pass the Employment First bill.  During my speaking, I make sure everyone understands that we all have barriers and challenges in life and that it’s important to find a job that matches our skills and abilities so that we can be successful.

I believe everyone has strengths and abilities.  We need to make every effort to search for the best job fit THEN work very hard at showing the world we can work just like everyone else. If you’re like me, you like to spend money and getting a paycheck is the key to shopping for me!  I get so excited when I realize its “payday” and an opportunity to buy some more clothes.

In conclusion, the reason why employment is so important to me is because I firmly believe EVERYONE with or without a disability deserves an opportunity to work in the community, earn a payroll check AND make a difference in this world.  If every employer was more open to hiring people with special needs AND everyone with special needs made every effort to work in the community…. the world would be a better place for all of us!  Let’s work together to make this happen!!