Efforts continue to hire people with disabilities in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – If you didn’t know Kevin Durbin has Asbergers, you might not be able to guess it.

He excels at repairing Chromebooks for the Marysville School District.

But that is not uncommon of people with Asbergers. They often are high functioning in certain areas.

However, Kevin also has developed social skills not as common for those with Asbergers, a form of autism. He is clever, has wit and has a fun sense of humor, the four guys who work with him in the office say.

Parents Mike and Donna Durbin said he has not always been that way.

“It’s really helped him being here,” Mike said, adding Kevin’s been able to go off some medication that has helped him become more outgoing.

Scott Beebe, director of the district’s Technology department, added, “It’s been like night and day his interaction.”

His dad said Kevin has been a computer wiz for some time. “He saved my bacon many times” when the just-retired dad ran Mike’s Automotive. Kevin custom-built computers for the family business and home.

One of his customers at Mike’s Automotive was Kathi Olson, who works for the school district. She helped Kevin get on at the district, first as a volunteer.

Kevin, 33, is now a paid, part-time worker. Kevin went to Marysville schools, including the age 18-21 transition program. He’s had a couple of volunteer and paid jobs since then. But this one has been a great fit.

Beebe said he wasn’t sure about the idea at first. “I was concerned, but I was wrong,” he admitted. “He brings a different kind of energy” to the job. “The guys all rallied around him. The guys are tremendous with him.”

Co-worker Kory Rhoades said Kevin can do most of the work the others do. Kevin’s gotten so comfortable socially in the two years he’s been there that he will even go out to the schools now and do computer lab repairs.

“That says a lot about the school district,” Mike said about Kevin’s improved social skills.

And then there’s Kevin’s work ethic.

“He has almost single-handedly has kept the Chromebooks” going, Beebe said.

He’s also as honest as they come.

“He stays late a lot, but he’ll tell me he’s not on the clock,” Olson said.

Kevin responded, “I chat with the other guys.”

As for his computer knowledge, Kevin said he is mostly self taught. If he gets stuck he searches the internet for a solution. He also learns from his co-workers, but they said they also learn from him. His Chromebook repair work can be as easy as changing a cable or screen to “almost putting together a new one,” he said.

Beebe said Kevin is just one example of many local people with disabilities who have jobs. He said he hopes more employers will look at that as an option.

Kevin also asked employers to give others like him a chance.

“Maybe it doesn’t look good on paper, but it could be a good fit in the work environment,” Kevin said.

Mike and Donna were obviously proud of what Kevin’s accomplished in his new job.

“It’s been huge – a giant step,” Mike said. “It’s opened up his field of vision. He keeps busy and is able to contribute.”

Beebe is so impressed he said Kevin can have the job there as long as he wants one.

“That’s what they all want,” Beebe said of parents of children with disabilities. “For their kids to have a life.”

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