Awesomism in 2017

It’s that time of year when we reflect on what we have accomplished this year, and what we hope to accomplish next year. As a small business owner and mom of 4 kids, every year I hope the next brings a strong economy that provides jobs. You see, my youngest child is Autistic and 17. He is fast approaching adulthood. This is a scary time for me. I always worried as each of my kids approached 18, I knew college was an option for them. While some colleges have programs for those on the spectrum, this isn’t an option for many. Like Peyton, the work environment is especially scary for adults with autism. They have an over 80% unemployment rate. This needs to change. There are stories each week of abuse and bullying by those who are employed by their coworkers and management who don’t understand the characteristics of autism. There are many reasons and excuses why this is so high, but few solutions.
The solutions that are available are not always easy and may not work for all. However; with so many autistic adults being unemployed, why not try new approaches? Many times businesses only consult “experts” on how to work with Autistic adults and not parents, tho we (the parents) are their 24/7 caretakers and know how best to work with them.
Some companies are addressing this issue, just not enough! With the ever-growing numbers of kids with autism, (estimated  range from 1 in 68 to 1 in 50 or so…and trending up!) this issue needs to be addressed… and quickly. The big issue here is the cycle of more autistic teens becoming adults, and their caregivers (mostly parents) aging. More companies need to become involved in creating training and jobs for those on the spectrum, jobs that not only fulfill the promise of employment, but also teach life and social skills to both the autistic community, and the community at large on how to deal with these individuals.
There is a saying that ‘When you’ve met one child with autism you’ve met one child with autism’. The reason it’s’ called the autism spectrum, is the wide range of skills and abilities or lack thereof of each individual,. This is part of the difficulty of putting together a successful job training program. There are some places that seem to be a “perfect fit” for many, such as manual labor to data-input and other tedious mental chores. While I love these jobs being available I hope that companies also think outside the box and find ways to work with Autistic teens and adults, as well as their own employees. Most of us as adults hope to have a career and not just a job, many within the autism community would appreciate the opportunity to have work! My Business goal for 2017 is to help turn autism into Awesomism by having businesses work with the autism community and give hope to the many families living with autism.

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