On the evening of Wednesday, October 2, Autism Speaks held its fourth Small Business Town Hall meeting of the fall – this time in Los Angeles, California hosted by UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment. In front of nearly 100 participants in the Semel Institute Auditorium at UCLA, five businesses that successfully employ individuals with autism were featured. The audience consisted of adults with autism and their families, small business owners, employment service providers and academics. These participants engaged in a dynamic Q&A discussion with the panelists, asking questions about how their businesses got started, what their operating costs are, and what obstacles they have faced along the way. Other small businesses exhibited materials and products to the Town Hall participants on tables around the room.
The five small businesses that were featured on the panel at this Town Hall meeting were:
- Extraordinary Ventures of Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Inclusion Films of Burbank, Calif.
- AutonomyWorks of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
- Lee & Marie’s Cakery of Miami Beach, Fla.
- nonPareil Institute of Plano, Texas
On Tuesday, The Daily Tar Heel highlighted the work of Extraordinary Ventures in their article Extraordinary Ventures Creates Jobs for Those with Autism.
The video clip below “Programming Hope Documentary,” from the nonPareil Institute, highlights the hopes and dreams for adults with autism and employment.
Learn more about nonPareil Institute here.
Another small business highlighted at the LA Town Hall, Inclusion Films Workshop, provides adults with developmental disabilities an introduction to film production. After completing the program, students are encouraged to apply for a position at their production company, Team Diversity Media, as well as seek employment in the film industry through other avenues. Watch a clip of Inclusion Films at work below:
Learn more about Inclusion Films here.
Autism Speaks looks forward to hosting five more Small Business Town Halls this fall, including one just outside of Dallas, Texas on Monday, Oct. 21 and a meeting on the outskirts of Chicago, Ill. on Wednesday, Oct. 23! Please click here to find out if we are visiting a city near you. There is much more to learn!
The LA event was one of three town halls taking place in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the crucial contributions of America's workers with disabilities, including autism.
These gatherings are part of “Advancing the Role and Impact of Small Businesses in Employing Adults with Autism,” an Autism Speaks initiative funded by a generous grant from the Ireland Family Foundation.
For more information about employment autism, check out the Autism Speaks Employment Tool Kit, designed to help individuals on the spectrum find and maintain employment. You can explore various employment models in the section Employment Models - What Option is Best for You?