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Autism Employment: Sparking Ideas and Extraordinary Results


August, 2016


Troy, Michigan Attorney Al Nelson, and Continental Services hosted local businesses and human resource service agencies along with the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM), to set forth together on a new path toward inclusion of individuals with autism and related disabilities in the employment world. Inspired by the efforts of the Autism Alliance of Michigan, Al Nelson invited his own corporate partners to attend today’s luncheon at Continental, with the hope of improving the landscape of employment options for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Conversations and testimonials were captured by Harold Meeks, Founder and CEO of Tell Us USA Media.

The Autism Alliance of Michigan is a statewide non-profit with a long-standing history of advocacy for autism-related issues that affect individuals across the lifespan. AAoM entered the employment world to better assess the catastrophic unemployment numbers and system failures that brought hundreds of adults with seemingly impossible obstacles to successful employment to their doorstep over the past several years. Barriers to employment further interfere with these individuals’ ability to lead an independent and fulfilling life.

Today we heard from Alliance leaders, CEO Colleen Allen and Tammy Morris, along with their most recognized corporate partner, Ford Motor Company, to learn more about a new, sustainable, competitive employment model. In addition, we heard from Griggs Steel, and DTE Energy, who have also been engaged with AAoM, and have taken their own giant strides toward hiring individuals with disabilities. Attendees from the business and human resources world acknowledged that it will be both unavoidable and ill-advised not to consider hiring individuals with disabilities in the very near future, given upcoming Federal contract requirements requiring diversity hiring minimums, as well as an oncoming wave of vacancies in the employment field, requiring companies to tap into this workforce. Hiring individuals with autism, who most often demonstrate a high degree of focus and low turn-over, helps address the high expenses associated with recruiting, retention, and current high rates of turn-over.

As we heard from business and human resource leaders today, the catalysts that brought them to consider hiring individuals with autism, were as diverse as the autism spectrum is itself. No two stories are alike. We heard from those in management or HR positions personally impacted by autism in a family member, those who were professionally motivated to find a gifted individual to solve a unique business problem or to save their company money, and those who recognized their unique position and opportunity to affect real change in hiring initiatives. Regardless of their motivation, what we witnessed today in Troy, Michigan, were additional hand-raisers and companies willing to learn and participate in a conversation about encouraging and supporting the hiring of individuals with disabilities.

There is a very viable and talented pool of candidates at their doorstep…and knocking. The Autism Alliance of Michigan is a local partner who can provide assistance to the hiring company throughout the entire process, toward what can be a win for the company, a win for the individual, and a win for a better community at large. Call 877-463-AAOM to learn more.

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