Brad putting together an IKEA toy kitchen.

Brad putting together an IKEA toy kitchen.

Two articles hit my radar this week. This article looked at the positive effects of employment within the Autism community.  Then this story about a young man in Alberta using his visual talents to start a small business.

I'm excited about the Vanderbilt University/ U-W Madison study showing the positive effects of employment on people with Autism.

“We found that if you put the person with autism in a more independent vocational placement, this led to measurable improvements in their behaviors and daily living skills overall,” said lead author Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator.

It seems like a lot of common sense, right?  Half the reason we encourage our typical teenagers to get jobs is in the hopes they become more responsible, show up on time, learn the value of work, etc.  Essentially were hoping they shift their behaviors toward independence.  Well apparently this has the same effect on adults with Autism.

And I couldn't be happier.  This is the wave of research and discussion I'm looking for.  People with Autism are benefiting from having jobs.  Right On!  I'm fascinated with the 'why' questions.  Why are their behaviors improving?  Is it pride in the work?  Is it that finally they see others recognizing that they can (although it's possible there are support people in place) work on their own?  Is it having something meaningful to do in their day?  I can't wait for more research to be done.

Then we have Brad Fremmerlid, what a fantastic story.  Brad can't read, can't speak  but has the ability to discipher IKEA instruction so well his parents started a small business around it.  Here's where I see the real work happening.  Parents and advocates looking at our kids and building a job around their skills.  Again, not so different from what we do with our typical kids?  

It's an exciting time.  A decade ago I was panicked over the future for my kid.  Today not so much.