[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Focus on Employment Opportunities at the Autism Investment Conference
Autism Speaks showcases businesses successfully employing adults with autism; spreading the word about great workers, special talents
Date: March 05, 2014
The second day of the 2014 Autism Speaks Autism Investment Conference closed with a focus on the need for more employment opportunities for teens and adults with autism.
“Adults with autism have an estimated 90 percent unemployment rate,” said moderator Leslie Long, Autism Speaks assistant director of adult services. “We have to explore all options available to advance employment opportunities for this population, including investing in companies that hire and support adults on the spectrum.”
Long stressed the need for employers to understand the value of hiring employees with autism. She encouraged businesses and organizations large and small to tap into the strengths that adults with autism can bring to the workplace.
More and more businesses are hiring individuals with autism, she noted, and many have seen tremendous success as a result. The companies showcased in the sessions illustrated some of the opportunities to capitalize on the potential of young adults and adults living with autism.
Employment Services Showcase
Dave Friedman, AutonomyWorks founder and CEO
AutonomyWorks(Downers Grove, Ill.)
Last year, Autism Speaks featured AutonomyWorks as an exemplary employer in its Small Business Initiative. The company connects individuals who have autism with companies needing workers in areas such as website maintenance and quality assurance. “There are hundreds of thousands of potential workers with autism spectrum disorders whose skills and abilities are perfectly matched to these business tasks,” said Dave Friedman, AutonomyWorks founder and CEO (at left).
AutonomyWorks currently employs 15 adults on the autism spectrum and provides workers for six clients. These clients range from start-up companies to some of the world’s largest ad agencies. AutonomyWorks’ goal is to employ 10,000 associates, have a service centers across the nation and inspire others to develop similar business models.“Workers with autism want to contribute their talents to the business community and to society,” Friedman said. “AutonomyWorks is here to help.”
Houlton Institute is an innovative online education provider. Thanks to a grant from Autism Speaks, Houlton and the Autistic Global Initiative developed an online course that provides training for residential and daily-living care providers. As part of this partnership, Houlton hired several faculty members and teaching assistants on the autism spectrum, said co-founder Dan Merritts.
MindSpark Technologies founder Chad Hahn
MindSpark Technologies (Santa Monica, Calif.) is an outsourced information technology company providing employment opportunities for individuals with specialized abilities – including adults with autism.
“At MindSpark, we’re about more than just a job,” said founder Chad Hahn (left). “We believe in both the personal and the professional well-being of our team. We’re creating a family atmosphere in and out of the office, building bonds we hope will last for a lifetime.” Chad and the company’s other principal owners are working without pay to launch and manage the enterprise. Investment will enable MindSpark to train and hire more employees, who will share in profit distributions. Enhancing the investment opportunity, Hahn explained, MindSpark incorporated as one of California’s nonprofit “benefit corporations.”
Employment Services Panel
After the company showcase, two of the presenters joined an expert panel for discussion. Dave Friedman and Chad Hahn joined Panda Hershey, a portfolio manager TIAA-CREF Financial Services, who discussed the company’s “Fruits of Employment” program, which she manages. The program’s mission, she explained, is to create tools and processes that can enable workers with disabilities to become a reliable labor source for its farmland investments. Autistic Global Initiative Executive Director Valerie Paradiz, who discussed housing and residential services earlier in the day, rounded out the panel.
More With Autism Investment Conference
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.