This is a special private post that was requested from some people I know on Facebook, YouTube, and WordPress. These folks wanted me to talk about my experience with the Alabama Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. And I had gone to them a couple of times since 2007. And I have worked with other voc rehabs in Wyoming and Nebraska while living there. Let’s talk about those two first. When I moved to Wyoming and could not hold down a job, someone suggested I go to the Wyoming voc rehab. They were nice, and they had me tested for any mental impairments. And few weeks later, I learned why I was different while as a child. I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder.
After the diagnosis, the voc rehab there really did not much more to help me out, other than having me sign up for food stamps. I did eventually find a seasonal job, at a hotel/resort with no hot water and broken windows, and some customers chewing me out. Basically, it had to come down to my dad’s grandparents to help me out since voc rehab did not help me out. Then, on my way back to Alabama, I had a short stay in Nebraska. Yep, no one would hire me there too. So some friends suggested I go to Nebraska voc rehab, and they did not do much of anything. Even with paperwork from the Wyoming voc rehab, nothing happened.
Now back in Alabama, I could not find anything, and soon I had my first experience with Alabama voc rehab in 2007. Because I had the diagnosis paperwork from the Wyoming voc rehab, they said they could help me out more. And they decided to placed me in industry that was high in demand in Alabama, truck driving. They paid for the truck driving training, and soon I had one truck driving job, and it did not last. I wrecked and my trainer was having me break some federal laws that he knew about. So I spent about eight months unemployed, and wondering what to do next, and that is when my problems with Alabama voc rehab began.
No one would hire me because of the accidents and me and my mom wanted Alabama voc rehab to do something training wise, and the person on our case would not do a thing. We kept demanding and demanding, but nothing happened. We even had to appeal to the headquarters in Montgomery to get something done. They halfway did something by assigning us to another case worker, but he did not do much of anything as well. Soon, we were left on our own and thankfully someone did hire me. This was in 2007 before the recessions began.
Well, that job with FedEx involved me breaking several federal laws with the management knowing about it. And I was soon fired again. After being fired and having to testify against Fed Ex in court, I had to deal with Alabama Unemployment to get unemployment benefits. That lasted for about a year, while I was sending out resumes, filling out applications, and going to job fairs. Soon, the unemployment ended and we went back to Alabama voc rehab in 2012. We were assigned to a new case worker, but because of the cuts already made to mental health in Alabama, they were limited in what they could do.
I was sent to a United Way program here in Calhoun County called Opportunity Center. In this program, people got to do three weeks of job learning and job training. Week one had me in some small classroom learning about janitorial duties and job searching techniques. The other two weeks had me doing janitorial work in the building. The program is only three weeks long for everybody, and soon the program was over for me. The only thing Opportunity Center has done with me is having a job coach find jobs and print out sheets of job listings to give to people like me, that’s it! The problem is Anniston has some bad economic problems, and the job listings are things I have already proven I cannot do by being fired many times (fast food / restaurant), or jobs in Georgia. Opportunity Center has been hit by state budget cuts, and the people there have said they used to do more, until some funds were cut. Of course, I went back to Alabama voc rehab, but they said they could not do anything. This was in 2014. Since then, the budgets for Opportunity Center and Alabama voc rehab have been cut a lot, and they are about to be cut even more.
Today, my mother is pushing me through the Social Security disability process. I mean, East Alabama has some of the highest concentrations of disability clients in the United States. My mom recently spent $1,200 on testing to help convince the judge to approve me for disability benefits. And the hearing is in mid-June. Even with the testing, it’s not still certain that I will be approved for disability benefits. I could still be denied. And if that happens, my mom cannot continue to pay for my apartment rent while I am unemployed, she is unemployed, and my brother is unemployed.
It’s sad that our Alabama state lawmakers are wanting to slash the mental health budgets to almost nothing. I have looked at other state voc rehabs like Georgia, Ohio where I was born, Tennessee, and Florida. Of course I contacted them, but they can’t do anything since I don’t live in those states. For example, Georgia voc rehab has clients participate in centers where they can learn skills and job training. Ohio has clients develop a good relationship with their case workers so the chances of finding jobs are greater. Heck, even Florida has better voc rehab services than Alabama, and that is by just looking at their websites. I really don’t want to just give up and go onto disability; I don’t think anyone wants that. Not only the funds are limited, Congress could change the disability programs and I might be screwed once again.
Since the truck driving thing did not work out, I had to figure out something new, and that is why I started the Geek Alabama site and social media channels. They have grown a lot and I have gotten better with my writing, photos, videos, and media work. Alabama voc rehab suggested back after being fired from Fed Ex that I volunteer at the local TV station, with no pay. Well, it did not last long and I was soon pushed out. So, what happens this Summer? Well, I will know if I get on Social Security Disability by July. If I am denied, my time in Alabama will probably be up. Will a voc rehab in Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, or another state help me out if I move there, I don’t know. We will see.
Categories: Personal Life Stuff