For World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and to kick off Autism Awareness Month, TD salutes the determination of Todd Mielewski-Miles and his family throughout his life to enable his success in the world.
Deborah and Joe Mielewski wanted what some believed was extraordinary for their son Todd Mielewski-Miles.
"Our hopes were for Todd to have a job just like every other responsible member of society," Joe said.
They weren't sure their dream would come true because of the social challenges he faced with autism. But today, Todd is celebrating his fifth year working for TD Bank, has a 401k and is a proud shareholder.
"Our son is now not a guy with a disability going to his job. He's just a guy going to work," Deborah said.
Todd takes pride in his role at TD
Todd works three days a week at the TD Bank's Lockbox Department in Mount Laurel, NJ, which is a secure center that collects and deposits check and cash payments on behalf of Commercial customers. He ensures that expired documents are prepared correctly and recorded before shredding.
His role is important for the department to meet the standards established by the bank, according to Heidi Sohn, a Business Unit Application Analyst and Todd's supervisor.
"I am proud," Todd said about his job at the bank.
When he first started, Todd had a job coach provided through ARC of Camden County to help him learn his role. After a year of working with the job coach and his team, Todd was able to perform his job independently.
"He is a hard worker who is very dedicated," Heidi said. "He inspires others on our team."
The long journey paid off for Mielewski family
Deborah and Joe knew their son had amazing skills, such as a photographic memory, a very high mathematical aptitude and musical talent. When they received Todd's autism diagnosis, they focused on obtaining all social services and educational opportunities to enable him to succeed.
Todd took special classes early on and was eventually mainstreamed when the family moved from New Jersey to Texas for high school.
"We were groundbreakers," Deborah said. "When he graduated high school, he stood with his class. We were so proud--it had been such a long journey."
It got even better when the family returned to New Jersey and Todd was able to find a job working at TD through Camden County services, said Joe, who teaches math to students on the autism spectrum.
"There are no words to say how grateful we are to TD," Deborah said.
It's not all about work
During his free time, Todd enjoys working on his computer, and attends plays and concerts with his friends. He is also a skilled piano player, but he prefers to play classical music when others are not in the room.
However, he is always happy and excited to return to work after his days off.
"TD has given Todd the chance to do a task that is needed and important -- to be a part of society," Joe said. "That's all we ever wanted."