Although my business requires me to “sell” a repair job to the customer I don’t consider myself a salesperson per se. And when it comes to fund raising and asking for donations I cringe. So I assumed that my autistic son would be less than enthusiastic when I heard that his JROTC unit was to begin a fund raising project last month. First of all I wasn’t sure that he really understood the importance of fund raising and secondly, the social skills needed for sales are very difficult for the autistic. Boy was I wrong.
Marshall LOVES his uniform. He honestly acts more confident and does less stimming on Wednesdays, the day he wears his uniform. The unit leaders have been stressing the expense of the uniform alterations and that funds must be raised to cover these expenses. Surprisingly this has sunk in with him.
The day he received the large promotions envelope complete with signup sheets and incentives to the seller he gave it to me as soon as he saw me. “Look. Here. We’re selling cookie dough!”. “Great” (not), I thought. I’m busy cooking from scratch for Carolina HeartStrings and he’ll want me to cook something that comes in a tub. “So mom, which are you going to buy?” Ok, well they had a cheesecake sampler so I chose that. “Who else will buy?”. Well, grannie is a given. Then I told him I could put the signup sheet on the counter at work. But, remember, I cringe at fund raising, so I told him it would be his responsibility to ask customers to buy. Since he gets dropped off at my business around 3:30 every day and works (or surfs) at a desk beside me he does get to see customers and delivery people.
Imagine my surprise when he jumps up one day: “Hello m’am. Please sign up HERE.” pointing to the order sheet on the counter. She looked a little surprised. What was she signing up for? Some prize? Sweepstakes? Free oil changes for life?. I had to explain that Marshall was fund raising. “Oh honey, that’s nice. What’s the money for?”. “It’s for cookie dough” Marshall replied. Well, yes, that’s true. I told him that she wanted to know who was going to benefit from the money. “Oh WE are” replied Marshall. Well, tell the lady who “WE” are. Then I decided to leave the office entirely. From the shop without my interruptions I heard Marshall’s version of a sales pitch. She signed up and gave him the money. After I finished my business with her and she had left I told Marshall that he had done a good job. “I KNOW”, he said. “That was FUN”. Ah…. The birth of a salesman…