Brad can’t read or speak, but he can build almost anything

Brad can’t read or speak, but he can build almost anything

He is unable to read or speak but he can understand even the most confusing diagrams and blue prints.

Almost everyone has been put through the stress of having to build IKEA furniture and hates it. This is not the case for 25-year-old Brad, who lives in Edmonton, Canada, with autism. He is unable to read or speak but he can understand even the most confusing diagrams and blue prints.

Brad’s father, Mark Fremmerlid, decided to turn his son’s skills into a business called Made By Brad. For only a low price of $10 to $20, Brad makes a house call and builds your furniture for you. For Brad and Mark it isn’t about the money. “We just want him to have something meaningful to do” says Mark.

Brad’s story is not just encouraging to those with autism but should speak to employers as well. Employers should be focusing on the strengths individuals have and how they can create an opportunity to contribute to a job.

ICare4Autism understands the challenges that people with autism are faced with trying to enter the workforce. One of our solutions to this challenge is the Global Autism Workforce Initiative, the world’s first global comprehensive autism workforce development initiative. Another solution is the Project Autism WORKS, which is a new Workforce program working to enhance the lives of those young adults affected by autism and their families. This project will work with the business community to create workforce ready youth ages 18 and up, diagnosed within the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Along with these efforts ICare4Autism holds conferences to create awareness of these initiatives and projects. ICare4Autism conference 2014 will be held July 2nd to the 3rd. For a list of attending speakers please click here.

For more information on Autism, please follow the link here: http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/autism/

New Greenhouse Looks to Hire Those on the Autism Spectrum


Jan Pilarski and her son Chris Tidmarsh stand outside their aquaponic greenhouse, in which they look to employ individuals with autism.

Around 90 percent of individuals on the autism spectrum are unemployed. One mother has taken it upon herself to change this.

Jan Pilarski, of South Bend, Indiana, has a son with autism. He graduated from Hope College with a degree in chemistry and environmental studies. Though her son Chris was successful in landing a job in environmental research, he shortly lost it and had to move back home.

“Nearly all of his peers with autism were chronically unemployed despite having post-secondary degrees,” Pilarski says. “Our world seemed small and bleak. I didn’t have much hope to change the minds of potential employers to help Chris get a job.”

Jan took the “opportunity to be entrepreneurial” and started a prototype aquaponic greenhouse, employing her son and others diagnosed with autism. The prototype was successful, and the mother and son team turned to the internet to fund a larger, commercial project. According to Jan and Chris, each greenhouse will produce more than 45,000 pounds of vegetables per year and employ five individuals with autism.

So far they have been able to raise more than $15,000, well over their initial goal.

Their efforts are part of a larger, national trend to support young adults with ASD as they enter the workforce.

ICare4Autism, a non-profit affiliated with Shema Kolainu, is undertaking several different workforce initiatives- including the Global Workforce Initiative which works on collaborating with major business entities to examine and discover the best practices and transition plans for those diagnosed with autism that then can be replicated globally.

Another program- Project Autism WORKS- will focus on training young adults with autism for the workforce. Partnering with local schools, ICare4Autism will then refer job-ready, potential candidates for positions in area businesses, like Walgreens- whose workforce already consists of 25 percent disabled employees.

Programs and developments like these will be the topic for discussion on the first day of ICare4Autism’s international conference being held in New York City on June 30, 2014.

Already in New York State, Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing for legislation (the AGE-IN Act) to develop programs similar to the one Jan and Chris created.

“Food has great power and potential,” Jan writes on the Huffington Post. “For us, it has made our lives whole once again and been a path for greater inclusion for Chris and others with autism. Indeed, a place at the table of life.”

To learn more about ICare4Autism’s local and global workforce initiatives, read here: http://www.icare4autism.org/global-autism-center/comprehensive-autism-workforce-development-initiative/

To watch the video on Jan and Chris’s greenhouse initiative, follow the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIaO9o4unK4

Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jan-pilarski/food-as-a-bridge-to-jobs-_b_4395350.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/12/an-organic-greenhouse-run-by-farmers-with-autism/282145/