I posted a story on the Simple. I Just Do facebook page yesterday about a carwash in Florida that was developed to run entirely with autistic employees, (and was started by a family with an autistic son, no less). And I encountered a staggering statistic – an unemployment rate of 90% for those with autism.
Food Barn Pin – Nate Hofer
That is a very scary number.
The article by Doreen Hemlock of the Broward County Sun-Sentinel quoted Michael Alessandri, director of the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Diseases, as saying, “Most people with autism can work. They can be very successful when given the right support. There just aren’t enough job opportunities with the right support system.”
The Man and I have discussed starting our own business a great deal. Part of that, I think a large part of it, is that if we are the owners, we can create our own opportunities for The Boy to be employed. And just like many, many families with autistic kids are turning to homeschooling so that they can tailor their child’s education according to his/her individualized needs, I think many, many families have or will turn to entrepreneurship for the same reason.
I love it.
I am so inspired by all of this. The world isn’t ready for this influx of people with autism? Well, let’s make it ready, one kid, one family, one family-owned business at a time. Bring it.
I did the mental math the other day, and it is only about six months away… Yikes! I have so much to do. It seemed like so far away for so long, that now I actually have to get out the planner and start penciling some stuff in! I can’t believe it! There are so many things we have to do like have a huge garage/Craigslist sale (which will basically entail a whole house inventory, and lots and lost of decisions), meet/talk with the autism society liaison where we’re headed so I can make some plans for The Boy, not only for school, but also for the summer, work on my transition plans for The Boy (including making a “Big Move Book” for him), and then the long list of actual moving details…
The last time I moved between states, I was four years old, so I wasn’t so involved with the details. Now I have pesky things like a driver’s license and bank accounts that will need to be switched.
Oh, and there’s that small detail about employment…
And health insurance…
I think I’ll get right on this…
Sometimes people will ask about The Boy’s future. Will he go to college? Will he live on his own? What will he do when he’s an adult?
The crazy thing about autism, is that it is unpredictable. I have no clue what the future will look like. Most parents of NT kids can reasonably assume that their child will go to college or trade school, or get work experience once out of high school, and will be able to make a living and live on their own, find a life partner, and maybe give them grandchildren. We special needs parents either don’t know if any of that will happen, or we know for certain that it won’t.
As The Boy gets older, I get a better idea, but I can’t say for certain, and I definitely don’t want to judge his capability too early, thereby predetermining the outcome – does that make sense? I want to be as open as I can to all possibilities so that none seems out of reach for The Boy.
One of the ideas that has been percolating ever since we made this major life decision to move to be closer to The Man and my parents has been to start up our own business or nonprofit, which could be a built-in job for The Boy in the future. We have lots of ideas, but one that started as a joke, and is still a joke (mostly, maybe, hmmm…) has been that The Man and The Boy will operate a hot dog stand at the beach during the summer. The Man actually has a friend who did it for awhile and made money doing it, too!
So this is The Boy’s Christmas gift to The Man this year:
Pretty fitting, don’t you think?