The Evolution of a Micro-Enterprise-Posted July 2, 2013
When I first conceived the idea of The Chocolate Spectrum, I really didn’t know exactly what that would entail in terms of Blake’s involvement. I knew he liked making chocolate-that’s it. First of all, I didn’t know what was involved for me let alone him. I mean a running a business, even a small one, requires many different tasks. But as the weeks and months have passed, and now that Blake is out of school, and The Chocolate Spectrum is going to be his main activity for his life, I realized that it can’t just be about making chocolate. I now understand that Blake needs, and is capable of getting into other areas of the business.
As I have previously posted, he is able to help with the packaging. He ties the ribbons on the boxes of candy. He has always been OCD when it comes to precision of tying the bows on his shoelaces, so I wasn’t worried about the ribbons on the boxes. He likes the bows to be the same size. So job #2 has been packaging.
This week, I introduced him to job #3: mailing packages. In this task, he is essential. First of all, I only have two hands, and a weak back. So, it goes without saying that I need a strong person to help carry all those boxes into the post office. That’s a no brainer. I guess I could get a little trolley, but who needs that when you have a strapping young fellow? So Blake gladly carried in all the boxes for me this week. What came next was a surprise. We brought the boxes up to the self-service kiosk for printing out shipping labels and purchasing the stamps. And then it came to me. It’s a touchscreen! Blake can do touchscreen. He has had a touchscreen device of one kind or another since he was eight years old. This is old school to him. So, one by one, I helped him to enter the information on the screen. It’s just a matter of following the prompts: Push “mailing package.” Touch “no” since we are not shipping anything hazardous. Enter the zipcode. After three packages, I didn’t even have to tell him each one to push. Great!! A new task and something he likes and can do with a little assistance.
There’s a moral to this story. One that is very important for everyone who has a child or works with a child who has special needs to know. All those tasks that we laboriously worked on for years with Blake in speech and occupational therapy and in school are finally starting to have more meaning for him. People ask, what is the point of these exercises and all the training? Well, I can tell them both from the point of being a speech therapist, and also as a mom of an adult with autism. Functional activities are where it is at with all of these people. Spend the time making sure your child is involved in tasks that will help him or her in their adult life as well as their childhood. Because I believe that every person can be purposeful. Every person.
Our First Week-Getting Those Father's Day Order Out
Posted June 12, 2013
It took us 3 days of solid chocolate production to make the products. And then, on day four, which was yesterday, we did the shipping. Day one was fun for Blake. It involved making the fillings for the chocolate. I let Blake help even though it involved cooking over the stove. This was a new experience for him. I made him wear oven mitts on his hands, which was hard for him to get used to. He put them on, but was a little uncertain if he liked them. Eventually, he got used to him. My husband was a bit worried that I allowed Blake to cook on the stove top, but I stood there the whole time, and we use induction heating, which is a lot safer.
Day two and three involved the actual production of the confections. This is where Blake excels as he has to fill the truffle and chocolate molds. Day two was his favorite day. He was busy for about 3 sold hours! I noticed that Blake does his best work when there isn't any lag time. Since we are just starting out, I don't have enough equipment to always keep production going steadily, but today, it just flowed. This works out best for him. On Day three, there was some lag time, and he wasn't as focused. (My birthday is coming up, and I've asked for more chocolate molds from my family, so hopefully for the next large production run, we can keep Blake more steadily occupied.)
Day four, as I previously mentioned, was shipping day. I honestly couldn't have accomplished this task without Blake. It really requires at least two pairs of hands. This involved a new set of tasks for Blake, so I was wary, but he really enjoyed himself. I laid out all the items in advance, and we moved forward assembly line style. This kept the flow going and the wrapping and packaging went quickly. I guess all that time spent in occupational therapy learning to tie bows has paid off, as Blake helped tie all the ribbons on the packages. Blake was a real trooper. I was thrilled. I even took him with me to the shippers, so he could help carry the boxes and that he could see that we were sending away the merchandise.
So, I'm pooped, but happy. At least I know Blake has one activity to keep him busy in his life. He absolutely showed that he can do the work. I am sure he will get better as time progresses, and he will see that he is an integral part of The Chocolate Spectrum.
The icing on the cake is that I had an opportunity
to spend a lot of time with Blake this week. The bonding experience makes up
for my sore back. But onward. This was a great week!
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