In August 2015, 24-year-old Jonathan Stewart joined Dallas-based Epic Health Services—a provider of pediatric skilled nursing, therapy, developmental, enteral and respiratory services—as an operations specialist in the accounting department. Beloved by his colleagues, Jonathan happens to have Asperger’s syndrome, but hasn’t let that slow him down one bit. In fact, this go-getter was promoted in less than a year to marketing and HR assistant, a role that allows him to use his graphic design and artistry expertise to create artwork for notecards, as well as paintings for the company’s offices and clinics. Not only is Jonathan eager to learn new things—such as the marketing, communication, and recruiting responsibilities he’s been given in his new role—but he’s also quick to give motivational feedback to his co-workers on their career choices.
One person in particular he’s inspired? Chris Roussos, the president and CEO of Epic. Jonathan demonstrated his admiration of Leonardo da Vinci by creating Chris a painting he dubbed “Fish in a Pond.” Realizing Jonathan’s knack for art, the marketing department had the idea to create a Jonathan-inspired coloring book to give to the company’s patients—an idea Jonathan was happily onboard with, developing pictures for the book complete with encouraging notes throughout.
And Jonathan has a message for those living with disabilities: “If you can trust in your family and yourself, even if you can’t physically use your hands, you can still strive to achieve you dreams and hope for a bright future ahead of you. I know it can be difficult to live with disabilities, I’ve been there. But with time, if you accept help from those you love, you can use your disability to benefit others. Just accept it and move on with your life.”
The wisdom doesn’t end there, though. For individuals that do not have Asperger’s syndrome, or another disability, Jonathan shares the following insight. “If someone you know has a disability, don’t be afraid to just ask how you can help.”
Today, Jonathan—and all of those touched by this extraordinary individual—is proud of the social skills, professional achievements, and increase in independence he’s gained in the last eight months. His favorite work-related accomplishment has been becoming comfortable with the filing system, and he considers his job at Epic the best he’s ever had.
When he’s not busy at work, you might find Jonathan reading the newspaper, hanging out with his family, watching action and mystery movies, (think Star Wars!), or cheering on one of his favorite teams: the St. Louis Cardinals, Dallas Mavericks, and Chicago Bulls.
Jonathan’s life has turned from survive to thrive, and the impact he’s had on all of those around him is immeasurable.