Extraordinary Ventures Nonprofit Creates Meaningful Jobs for Adults with Autism, Helps Them Learn New SkillsMatthew M. Sullivan
As many as 500,000 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will enter adulthood over the next eight years. Most of the services offered for ASD cater to children with autism, which leaves adults who are on the spectrum to fend for themselves.
Since many businesses are hesitant to hire people with the disorder, it can be difficult for adults with ASD to find meaningful employment. They have to rely on their own skills and the help from family and friends to find job opportunities, nail interviews, and fit in in the workplace, and that doesn’t come easy to a lot of people with autism.
But just because adults with autism may struggle to learn things quickly or maintain socially appropriate relationships with their colleagues doesn’t mean they’re not good employees. People on the spectrum have a wide range of knowledge and skills that predisposes them to being good workers, whether it’s operating a machine, working with computers and technology, or being a tour guide. Just like neurotypical people, they’re each good at different skills and types of jobs, but they’re all good at something.
Nonprofit organization Extraordinary Ventures (EV) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is working to break this trend of unemployment in people on the spectrum. EV creates small businesses that are ideal for employing adults with developmental disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum.
EV started with an event center, which gets rented out for things like bar mitzvahs and weddings, and they have subsequently created laundry, cleaning, clerical, and candle-making services. This enables all of their employees to do something they can succeed at and enjoy. And there may be even more opportunities to try different types of jobs in the future!
Van Hatchell, Managing Director at EV, hopes that their organization will break the stigmas and stereotypes behind individuals with ASD and that EV will be able to show other employers the value that those on the spectrum bring to the workforce.
Watch this video to learn more about this incredible endeavor.