A few months back, reader and friend Alisha posted this link to my Facebook blog page. This New York Times article is about a Danish company that employs people with autism to do software testing, but it also mentions an American company called Aspiritech that does much the same thing and actually based their business model on the Danish company.
It turns out that Aspiritech is based in Highland Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago that's about 40 miles away from me. I contacted Aspiritech about volunteer opportunities, had some back and forth with the founder, but nothing ever came together.
Enter my friend, fellow autism parent, and blogger Yuji, who blogs at Hanabi Boy. Yuji actually lives in Highland Park and, like me, freelances for his local Patch. I asked Yuji if he'd ever heard of Aspiritech and suggested that he write a Patch feature on the company. Yuji was already on the case, and had contacted the founder to schedule an interview. I told Yuji that, if he didn't mind, I would love to tag along when he got it scheduled.
|Yuji and I (after a makeover, |
cleavage reduction, and liposuction
courtesy of Microsoft Paint)
Which he did. We were able to spend quite a bit of time there, meeting the founder Moshe Weitzberg, autism specialist Marc Lazar, and a few of the employees. We happened to be there on a day when a big AP story about them hit the wires, and many other media outlets were contacting him for interviews.
It was fascinating and encouraging to see all of the interest that the company is generating, but what they really need is BUSINESS. The company is based on taking in outsourced QA testing from outside companies and providing gainful employment for adults with autism. As you can imagine, they have plenty of autistic adults interested in working for them, but not enough business to support all of them.
I'm hoping to use my hi-tech background and contacts within the industry to help them with that. Because how AWESOME would it be to have companies like this around when our kids come of age? If anyone happens to have any business leads...doesn't matter the industry or location...please contact me or Aspiritech directly.
Presently, Aspiritech is the only company of its kind in the U.S. I can't help but feel that there is a lot riding on their success, and that theirs is a business model that could be a template for the future when the rest of the autism army reaches adulthood.
Here is a link to Yuji's fabulous Patch article that was the result of the wonderful day that we spent at Aspiritech: Highland Park Company Employs Adults With Autism
Please give it a read...and prepare to be inspired.