Left to right: Rich Maston, Laura McKee, Karrie Pece, Wanda Malone, Margaret Boyer, and David Friedman
AHSS CEO Laura McKee, Family Support Manager Rich Maston and Family Support team members Wanda Malone and Margaret Boyer recently visited the offices of AutonomyWorks, just steps from the Belmont train station in Downers Grove, IL. AutonomyWorks CEO David Friedman and Director of Talent and Operations Karrie Pece gave the AHSS team an overview and tour of the organization.
AutonomyWorks was launched in 2012 as a socially responsible for-profit company with a dual mission: To provide marketing analytical support for marketers and to provide jobs to detail-oriented people with autism. AutonomyWorks has grown steadily and now has more than a dozen clients. The AutonomyWorks team downloads online data, completes analysis, and returns the information to their clients — thus enabling their clients to focus on higher value strategic marketing activities.
Rich, Wanda, Margaret, and Laura enjoyed meeting team members and hearing from them firsthand how much they enjoy the work they do. In our work at AHSS
we believe that, as Temple Grandin has encouraged, connecting people with autism to meaningful work that they can feel passionate about
greatly improves lives. We coach our parents of kids on the spectrum to think about what interests and skills their kids have that can lead to a profession. At AutonomyWorks, the special strengths of some people with autism (ability to focus and to consistently complete repetitive tasks) are put to great use.
Interestingly, the biggest constraint for growth at this point is finding people with autism who are interested in the work. According to Pece, “We offer job shadowing experiences to anyone with autism with an interest. Although we follow labor laws and hire those 16 and over, some 14 year olds have also participated. Our program includes a skills assessment and up to 40 hours of training and job shadowing. Many of our team are also pursuing associates degrees at College of DuPage as well as working here.”
The AHSS team learned that of the 26 folks currently working at AutonomyWorks, a majority did not have a bank account prior to working there. Now they all have their own bank account and are enjoying working in a team environment. We are inspired by your work, AutonomyWorks!