Brandon Buzzank came across his job in an unusual way. He was in the waiting room of McGavock Nissan in Lubbock, Texas, when he began handing out refreshments and cleaning up the countertops just to help out. That’s what caught the attention of Brent McGavock, the owner of the car dealership.
“I look up and see a guy in a suit cleaning the counter, handing out cookies,” says McGavock. “I knew he wasn’t employed here. He said, ‘I thought I would help out while I was getting my car serviced.’ I hired him on the spot.”
Brandon has autism, and like many others with the neurological disorder, he struggles with social skills and unplanned changes, and he has trouble finding a job. But since he’s started working at McGavock as the company mascot, he’s proven that he and other people on the spectrum aren’t just employable—they’re often some of the best employees you could ever ask for.
Like so many people with ASD, Brandon thrives in the presence of routines and rules. He enjoys doing the same thing the same way every day, has no trouble staying focused, and he rarely forgets a task. He does meticulous lot checks on the cars, takes care of invoices, and delights everyone with his expressive personality when he’s in his frog suit.
“He likes to go everywhere in the frog suit, even places he shouldn’t go,” laughs Abbie Ancell.
“He’s so much fun around here,” says employee Katy Sanders. “All the little kids love him.”
Brandon has also helped McGavock solve some technical issues they’ve been having, further proving his immeasurable worth as an employee. He figured out a way to get graphics put on stickers the company was printing out, for example, which was something nobody had been able to figure out before. He also developed a system that allows customers to scan a vehicle code with their phone in order to go straight to the webpage where the vehicle is listed for sale.
Brandon is always working hard to improve and participates in research about autism spectrum disorder. Right now he’s in a clinical trial for a drug called Balovaptan and says he’s seen some improvement in his social skills.
“Anytime I see research on autism, I jump on it and try to get involved,” he says.
Brandon and those around him want everyone to know that people with autism spectrum disorder aren’t usually unemployable. In fact, many of them are particularly good at detail-oriented jobs, technical jobs, and a wide variety of other types of work.
Do you know someone with autism who is great at their job? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?