Our adopted son had problems from birth in 1973 but we weren’t able to get a correct diagnosis of his conditions until the early 1990’s, when technology had improved enough for us to get a definitive diagnosis, which revealed development disorder with different parts of his brain. Also, he has Asperger’s Syndrome. These combined conditions make it impossible for him to fit into any public employment environment.
We made multiple attempts at public employment through Workforce Development and tried independent living skills training to no avail. That was when our son went to Frankfort Habilitation, a sheltered workshop in Kentucky, then at Boone Center, Inc. (BCI) in St. Peters, MO. In the sheltered workshop environment he began to thrive. It has given him dignity and he is making a contribution to his own care and support. He has gained a sense of self-worth and made friends and is not looked down on because he is different. He loves his job and is proud of the work he does. He has also learned skills and attitudes at BCI that help him cope in other life areas.
If the work opportunities for people like him are eliminated, it would be devastating to him and thousands of others like him with similar physical and mental challenges. Most of them would be confined at home and one of their parents or guardians would have to quit their job in order to stay home with the person resulting in more lost wages and tax income. It would also eliminate thousands of jobs for the staff, bus drivers, suppliers, and other support industries to the sheltered workshops.
Our son works full time, pays local, state and federal taxes. Without the security, training and supervision provided by these sheltered workshops he will be isolated at home. BCI administration and staff are specially trained to work with this unique and diverse population. They provide a safe environment; understand this population, and work with them in a dignified manner, arbitrate the interaction of the labor population, provide growth in their social and job skills in ways that private industry cannot do. Sheltered workshops, like BCI, provide a much needed and valuable service to this population. We need for sheltered workshops to remain protected organizations under the 14c section of the law.