Sean Monette is a cable assembler at MicroTek, a manufacturer of cable and wire configurations for equipment used in medical, scientific and security applications around the world. Sean is 44 years old. He is also on the Autism Spectrum.

“I work at MicroTek in Chicopee Monday through Friday from 9:00 in the morning through 2:45 in the afternoon,” Sean said deliberately and precisely. “I take the JYL van all the way to MicroTek. I pin out the wires into the connectors. Then I pack those wires and some other stuff into the bags. I get that right every time so it works every time. I do that to make the money.”

Sean has been a regular employee at MicroTek since 2012, and like most working people, he looks forward to his vacations. “I like to travel with my mom,” he explained. “I went to the Poconos a couple weeks ago on vacation.” He has set some long-term travel goals. “I’d like someday to travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in 2042 in April in the early spring, when I retire.”

By holding down a steady job, Sean is able to afford his own apartment. “I have lived in my own apartment since the year 2006,” he said. “My apartment is in an old school. I live by myself, with my cat. We take care of each other. He is white and black. He is a tuxedo cat. He likes to sit on my lap. His name is Scooter. In the year 2012 in January I got my cat and that name was just in my head.”

When it’s a work day, Sean gets ready the way most people do. “I grab the cereal from the cabinet of the kitchen and I eat the cereal for breakfast,” he said. “I drink orange juice. I ride the JYL van all the way to work at MicroTek in Chicopee. When I get to work I have coffee. The coffee is free at MicroTek. Then I pin out the wires into the connectors to make the money.”

What does he like to do with his hard-earned pay? “I like to spend my money going out for supper,” Sean explained. “I like to spend my money going to the movies in West Springfield.” Over the years, he’s seen hundreds of movies, including Robo Cop and Fast and Furious.
But Sean’s favorite thing to do is travel to new places. When asked if he visited a random list of states, he gave these replies: Florida? “Yes.” Texas? “Yes.” California? “Yes.” Colorado? “Yes.” Washington? “Washington, D.C.” What about Washington State, where Seattle is? Sean paused a moment, then smiled in reply: “Not yet.”

Bob Laviolette of MHA’s Integration and Community Living Division is Sean’s outreach worker. “I see Sean five days a week and oversee his exercising and diet,” Bob explained. “Both are important for him given some health conditions and the medications he takes. Every month we weigh him and we keep track of that. I help him make supper and observe him doing his meds, which he takes himself. We schedule all of Sean’s doctor and dentist appointments throughout the year, and we make sure he gets to his appointments on time. We do fun stuff together, too, like going to the movies or the bookstore or the mall. Sean doesn’t drive, so I drive him for stuff he needs to get to and stuff he wants to get to. He manages his own grocery money and spending money, and he does a good job. He saves money every paycheck. He saved his money until he was able to buy himself a brand new living room set, including a sofa, love seat, end tables, TV stand and a giant clock. He also saves his change every day, to spend on vacation. For his last vacation he had saved $130 in change.”
“I am good at saving my money,” Sean said confidently.

Sean is also confident that employers should hire more people who have disabilities, because he works hard, does his job correctly, and really wants to be someone people can count on. He is committed to his job because he understands how important it is to his plans for the future.

“When I retire at the age of 66, when I retire from work at MicroTek, I’m going to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in April of the year 2042 in the spring time,” he explained. “I’m going to fly there from Hartford on a plane. I’m going to stay at the huge resort on the beach by the ocean that has a big outdoor pool and a hot tub, and I’m going to have fun there. I’m going to walk along the beach there in April of the year 2042 in the springtime when I retire from work at MicroTek.”

Though that goal is a few years away, it’s always on Sean’s radar. What makes his goals and plans achievable is the independence he has built by working at a steady job where he is respected, appreciated and valued. That benefits Sean’s employer, his community and, most of all, Sean himself.

“I have my own apartment,” he says. “I have my own cat. I have my own job at MicroTek. I have my own money. I feel happy because I’m independent.”

Does your business or organization need reliable and committed employees? Many persons with disabilities are able to work productively, and they want to earn the independence that having a job can provide. To learn more, please reach out to Kim Lee, Vice President of Resource Development and Branding at klee@mhainc.org