According to the recent statistics, 90% of the individuals with autism are unemployed or underemployed, 56% of young adults with autism only graduate high school and only 14% start college. And 100% of the adults with autism would like to work and be included into society, education and build up careers. They possess skills, talents, traits that are highly advantageous.
The Chicago-area dealership’s Made to Inspire Café will be opened soon and staffed by workers who have autism. They were trained by local private school for special needs children. The idea of this café belongs to a Lexus dealership’s general manager, Randy Wolf. Randy and his wife have a teenage son with autism, so they know about the problems with education and inclusion from the inside. They started the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation to help parents alike to them. Since 2011, this foundation has operated a day school for children with autism.
However, after the graduation, Wolf started to think over what’s waiting for his students after the graduation? Traditional colleges were not an option for most of the students and employment opportunities were miserable. So, Turning Pointe started a career college that cooperates with businesses to place students in jobs where they can succeed. The college trains the students for the specific tasks and provides support with employment process.
Randy Wolf says, “A lot of our kids, they can’t get through an interview process. They have a difficult time communicating, with eye contact. But once they’re placed, they’re terrific employees.” With this in mind, he decided to create a café in his Lexus store and employ young autistics, “Basically, I’m leasing the space to the foundation, and they’ve got to be self-sustaining. They’ve got to run it on their own. They’ve got to learn how to order supplies, and stock the supplies, and sanitize the sinks and account for the dollars.”
High-functioning employees will get managerial positions, while the others will take baristas. The café will start slowly, with limited hours, increasing the work days and number of employees.
People are very excited about the idea of the café and can’t wait to see it runs. Hopefully, other employers will take this initiative into serious consideration, and chances to have a job and brighter future, will be increased for all autistics.