Let’s attack the problem, not the statistic. We know 80-90% of adults with Autism and other intellectual disabilities are unemployed or underemployed. The problem is not lack of employment opportunities alone. The challenge is supporting these opportunities to be something that is meaningful. Like all people, without meaning behind what we do, we are less likely to learn, engage for the long term, and feel fulfilled with the process and end outcome. Why should this same pursuit of fulfilment be any different in the workplace for the team at Finley’s Barkery?
If someone loves wiping mirrors, changing light bulbs, cleaning floors, crushing boxes, packaging items or dusting equipment, then give them the tools they need and let them go! However, if we want to challenge someone to gain confidence, practice social interaction skills, learn basic everyday functional skills, and truly love what they do, then we have to re-invent the mass manufactured processes and mindsets we are currently operating with.
In accounting terms, this isn’t the most cost effective or sexiest way to make a profit(our profits are defined by increased work opportunities). We picked an extremely competitive market, complete with machines(literally), and brands spending $$$ pumping misleading beliefs that the dog treats you are buying are handcrafted or made with love. A machine does not make things with love. It is our hope the person marketing to you loves their job. That, we suppose, counts for something…
Frankly it is old-school common-sense people-first business. Invest in your people, learn what they are good at, support their strengths, and they will amaze you. It doesn’t matter the category of business you are in. Do this!
So think about your job. Think about how you invest in others. Think about the 80-90% of adults with Autism and other intellectual disabilities who seek the exact same fulfillment you do in your life. Go do what you love!