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Phong’s Remarkable Journey

Posted on : 06 Apr 2022 | No Comments

Meet Phong, an exceptional four-year veteran of KANDU Industries whose life-changing journey in the KANDU program epitomizes the KANDU mission. When we met Phong in 2018, he faced several barriers including a lack of traditional communication skills, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and autism, prompting some of his care team to doubt whether he would ever be able to participate in the prevocational program at KANDU. 

Our staff weighed the possible risks and benefits of providing service to Phong and designed a plan for success based on his individual abilities. For example, because Phong lives with OCD, Phong has a strong instinct for “how things should be” in his environment. When Phong first joined us, even a piece of tape on a box or a paper checklist hanging on the wall would create discomfort, causing him to destroy whatever seemed out of place. Once KANDU staff identified Phong’s triggers, his individualized plan was modified to incorporate natural positive reinforcements while setting boundaries around unacceptable behavior. 

Phong first learned his work tasks in a private environment with all distracting details removed. And when he eventually moved to the production floor, KANDU staff would sweep his station and precisely place Phong’s tools to his liking so nothing was out of place. Gradually steps were taken to grow Phong’s tolerance, adding distractions and differences to his work so he could learn to accept a changing, imperfect environment.  

Overcoming the original doubt expressed by his previous support staff, Phong has risen to the challenge and worked to use his unique abilities to excel at KANDU and meaningfully contribute to the community. Phong’s OCD is a strength in that his work is accurate and precise, and with his steadily growing focus and responsibility, his supervision has been reduced from three to just one staff member. 

Years of isolation left Phong struggling to safely connect with clients and staff, resulting in his work shifts often being scheduled when there were fewer people around in order to minimize safety risks and ensure the physical safety of everyone involved. Through Phong’s remarkable journey, he now works in the morning with many other clients on the production floor. You’ll often catch him giving high fives to staff and clients, and he has truly benefitted from meeting peers and creating relationships, eating lunch, and socializing during coffee breaks with his friends. The social connections Phong has made are reinforced through activities like Client Fun Days, where he is often first in line to participate in games and pose for pictures.  


Phong continues to thrive at KANDU, making friends with fellow clients and accomplishing increasingly technical tasks and we are proud to highlight his success. His communication skills and tolerance for change have steadily improved, expanding his horizon both at work and at home. Participating in KANDU culture has enhanced Phong’s quality of life, allowing him to leave his home, interact socially with his peers, and engage in meaningful activities.