#diversityatwork

The University of Washington and Microsoft Change the World of Work!

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In the article, “How UW, Microsoft are pitching in to help job-hunters with autism”, author Rachel Lerman introduces her readers to Project Search, a program through the University of Washington and Seattle Public Schools that trains people with ASD in skills that are important in the world of work.  Along with the training opportunity, Project Search also helps individuals on the autism spectrum find great job opportunities.

Lerman discusses the challenges that individuals on the spectrum face when entering the world of work. One such challenge is the spectrum itself.  This wide-ranging spectrum makes structured educational and training programs difficult. 

To resolve this concern, Project Search partners with businesses to provide internships to participants as often as possible, so training may be more personalized.  

Lerman also mentions the challenges that come from traditional recruiting and hiring methods, specifically she discusses the resume and the interview process.  Both of which, as many hiring managers will tell you, do not always present accurate or predictable information.  

To resolve these challenges, Lerman talks about Microsoft’s Hiring Academy, which not only works as a recruiting tool, it also offers training opportunities through classes on communication, tests for technical understanding and ability, and group games and activities.  

Opportunities like Project Search and Microsoft’s Hiring Academy are part of a nationwide movement by businesses to actively recruit individuals on the spectrum.  While, yes, these programs provide individuals with ASD opportunities for independence, they also provide benefits for our communities and our society at large.  But most importantly, and this fact is not lost on our business partners, it makes good business sense.  This is an untapped labor pool of people with skills, talents, and abilities that are of direct benefit to business.

Mind Shift appreciates this perspective.  We want our business partners to work with us because it makes good business sense.  We want to be considered an organization that provides exceptional talent that helps businesses move forward.  As we like to say, we help businesses do good work while doing good.

To read Rachel Lerman’s article, follow this link: https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/thinking-differently-about-employment/

And to learn more about how Mind Shift can help your business, visit www.mindshift.works!

It's True! You can do good for your business while also doing good!

Mind Shift helps businesses accomplish great things through the employment of high-functioning adults on the autism spectrum.  If you are looking for employees with high attention to detail, an eye for accuracy, a strong work ethic and drive to contribute to a great organization and culture, Mind Shift can help!

We have partnered with great businesses like General Electric, Eide Bailly, Target, Anthem Healthcare, and Appareo Systems to leverage the strengths of the autism spectrum in their organizations.  

If you want to learn more about how Mind Shift can help your business do great things while doing good for your community and your neighbors, write info@mindshift.works.  

Team Acai helps Mind Shift Move the Needle!

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Last week Mind Shift was privileged to be joined by a team of MBA students from the University of Michigan. The team is participating in the Center for Social Impact’s Ross Open Road Program.

As their website, http://socialimpact.umich.edu/programs/ross-open-road/, explains, “teams embark on their own journeys of impact in an effort to scale support for visionary entrepreneurs in communities far and wide.”  

We were joined by Team Acai. Courtney, Apoorva, Alexis, and Ian spent the week analyzing our program and our systems, having conversations with Specialists, employees, and business partners, and strategizing ways to move Mind Shift forward.  The team provided us with a number of tools and ideas that will allow us to better serve our customers, our Specialists, and the community.

If you’ve read our previous blogs, you know that we believe that differing point of views inspire innovation and have real value for businesses.  Team Acai brought a different point of view.  And Mind Shift is already benefiting from it.  

Courtney, Apoorva, Alexis, and Ian, you are always welcome at Mind Shift.  Good luck in your travels.  Hopefully we’ll see you soon.

If you want to learn how different points of view, like Autism Spectrum Disorder, can benefit your business, or if you want to learn about the value Team Acai brought to Mind Shift, please reach out to us via our website: www.mindshift.works.

Autism Employment Presents a Wide Range of Opportunity

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The secret is out.  Businesses from a wide range of industries and locations are recognizing the opportunities that come with employing individuals with autism.  Words such as accuracy, innovation, optimization, and loyalty are often mentioned when organizations speak of their experiences with autism employment.

The value brought to businesses through autism employment is unquestionable.  Just ask Microsoft, HP, or SAP.  Autism employment is good for business.

Below is a list of roles that Mind Shift Specialists currently hold.  This list is not complete, and certainly does not exhaust the types of work an individual with autism would excel in.  Hopefully it gives a snapshot of the wide range of work being performed, and the opportunities that are available to organizations that employ individuals on the spectrum.

 

·      Lab Tech

·      Document Processing

·      Document Imaging

·      Engineering Support

·      Inventory Specialist

·      High Tech Manufacturing

·      Laser Engraver Operation

·      Payroll Support

·      Shipping and Fulfillment Services

·      Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable

·      Data Analytics

 

Autism brings with it a unique set of strengths and attributes.  It’s not a disability.  It’s a unique way of looking at the world and processing information that brings real value to organizations.

To learn more about how autism employment benefits business, email Mind Shift at info@mindshift.works.  We’re ready to help you leverage the strengths of autism to bring value to your business.

Individuals on the Autism Spectrum bring Value to Businesses

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Have you heard? The secret is out! More and more organizations are recognizing that employing individuals on the autism spectrum is a smart business move!

Individuals with ASD have particular skills and talents that you don’t always find in neurotypical individuals (those not on the spectrum).  And by employing people on the spectrum for particular roles and tasks, businesses have the opportunity to bring real value and opportunity to their organizations. 

Some of these particular skills and talents are high levels of concentration, high attention to detail, skill with complex data sets, an eye for process optimization, and efficiency. Individuals on the spectrum are gifted with abilities in visual thinking, systematic information processing and are able to perform technical work with great precision (Baldwin, Costley, & Warren, 2014, p2440-2441).

Individual on the spectrum also have greater “reliability, lower levels of absenteeism, [and greater] trustworthiness” (Jacob, Scott, Falkmer & Falkmer, 2015, p. 4). 

Some of the world’s most successful businesses are recognizing the opportunity that comes with employing adults on the autism spectrum.  Below is a list of such businesses, just to name a few:

 

·      Microsoft

·      SAP

·      Salesforce

·      Google

·      Hewlett Packard

·      Cable Labs

·      CollabNet

·      EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young)

·      AT&T

·      Ford

·      JP Morgan Chase

 

As we move further into 2018, more and more businesses are going to recognize the competitive advantage that comes with employing individuals on the autism spectrum, and more and more people are going to recognize that autism should not be seen as a disability.  Instead, it should be seen as a different ability. 

Mind Shift is a non-profit that works to find meaningful careers for high functioning adults on the spectrum.  To learn more about how employing individuals on the autism spectrum will benefit your business, write to info@mindshift.works

 

Baldwin, Susanna, Costley, Debra, & Warren, Anthony (2014). Employment Activities and Experiences of Adults with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(10), 2440-2449.

Jacob, Andrew, Scott, Melissa, Falkmer, Marita, & Falkmer, Torbjorn (2015). The Costs and Benefits of Employing an Adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE, 10(10), 1-15.

 

 

Mind Shift Welcomes Drew Erickson

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Mind Shift is growing!  We are extremely happy to welcome Andrew Erickson to the Mind Shift family. 

Originally from Fargo, Drew is married with three children.  Sophi is nine, Jude is seven, and Nora is two.

Jude, diagnosed as high functioning on the spectrum, drives Drew’s passion for wanting to improve life for individuals with ASD.  Drew wants to leave a legacy of pulling potential out of people.

Currently, Drew coaches varsity football at Park Christian School in Moorhead, and is a big Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Fan.  He also volunteers with the Prairie Heights Community Church Youth Group.

Drew has been working with people on the spectrum for over eight years, starting as an early childhood teacher, and then joining the team at Prairie St. Johns, who he calls “the best of the best.”  Drew spent six years working with youth on the spectrum at Prairie, mostly with children in crisis.  Drew has also organized summer camps for children with ASD.

Drew will be overseeing our in-house project team and will be managing the Specialists that are currently placed in businesses around our community. 

We’re very happy to have Drew on our team and look forward to working with him to find great careers for adults on the autism spectrum.

Yesterday I received a text from a Specialist, “Is this Drew guy legit?”

The answer is yes.  Yes, he is.

To learn how Drew can help your business find amazing employees, contact Mind Shift today. 

Myths about Autism are Bad for Business

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As an organization that works diligently to find meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum, Mind Shift often has to dispel myths and misconceptions about the diagnosis.  This is an important part of our mission.  If we are going to change the world of work, we need to address those incorrect ideas that can get in the way of an organization hiring individuals on the spectrum. 

Below are 7 more myths regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder:

1.      Individuals with autism don’t feel emotion.  Actually, individuals with autism just express their emotions in different ways.

2.     Individuals with autism don’t understand other people’s emotions.  The truth is that people with autism often have difficulty interpreting facial cues, tone of voice, and body language, which makes understanding how somebody is feeling in the moment especially difficult.

3.     People with autism are antisocial and don’t want friends.  Because of the difficulty interpreting emotional cues, and higher than average anxiety, people on the spectrum may avoid social situations and come across as aloof.  The truth is people on the spectrum want to have meaningful and deep interpersonal connections just like anybody else. 

4.     Autism is caused by bad parenting.  This is absolutely untrue.  In the 50’s, autism was said to be caused by mothers who were cold and unemotional.  This has been proven FALSE!

5.     Autism is a mental illness.  This is not true.  Autism is a neurological condition.  People on the spectrum process information differently, but it is not an “illness.”

6.     Autism is curable.  Actually, there is no known cause for autism, and there is no known “cure.”  That being said, should we be trying to “cure” it in the first place?  Autism offers a unique way of seeing the world.  And those with autism should be valued because of this perspective. 

7.     People with autism are all alike.  Absolutely not true!  There’s a saying: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.  No two people are alike, and that goes for people with autism too! 

It’s important that myths such as these are dispelled, especially since some of these inaccuracies might prevent great businesses from hiring individuals on the spectrum, even when those individuals might be the most qualified fit for roles that need to be filled. 

Mind Shift will continue to speak honestly about autism and autism employment.  And we will continue to advocate for adults with autism.  If you want to learn more about autism, and about leveraging the strengths of individuals on the spectrum, reach out to Mind Shift.  We work with some unique, talented, and amazing people who are ready to work with you.

Office Sign Company Continues to Do Good in Fargo

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A little over a month ago, Mind Shift started a partnership with Office Sign Company.  The business started making signs in 2008, and has been growing ever since.

Not only is Office Sign Company a supplier and manufacturer of high quality and unique office signs, they are also a business that invests in their community.  One of the organization’s core values is Service, and the OSC team can be seen living this value in their service to the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Here is a list of JUST A FEW of the organizations and events that Office Sign Company has sponsored, volunteered for, or donated to:

  • American Diabetes Association
  • Fargo South High School Volleyball
  • FM United Soccer
  • Longspur Prairie Fund
  • March of Dimes
  • Moorhead Crush Softball
  • Nature of the North
  • Operation Thank You
  • RDO Caters Taters for Charity
  • Red River Market
  • Rourke Art Museum
  • Silver Goat Media
  • Tech Tailgate
  • TEDxConcordia
  • Theatre B
  • Tri City Soccer Club
  • Trollwood School for Performing Arts
  • Unseen
  • Village Family Services

And this list doesn’t include the work OSC has done for The Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota-North Dakota, The United Way, Ronald McDonald House, TedX Fargo, The Arts Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, Prairie Public Radio, and The Salvation Army. 

We are so happy and proud to partner with Office Sign Company.  They are truly a force for good in our community.  We look forward to seeing them around town so we can say, “we work with them!”  Thanks for the opportunity, OSC.

We Remember Dale Vitalis, an Exceptional Man

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Mind Shift would like to take this opportunity to remember The Reverend Dale Vitalis, who passed away on Sunday, February 18th, at the age of 89.

The Reverend was an advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum, and one of the early supporters of Mind Shift in Fargo. 

Mr. Tim Hanson, Founder and Chairman of Mind Shift, wrote a letter honoring Reverend Vitalis, which was published in The Fargo Forum’s Opinion Section.  It sums up beautifully how we felt for this remarkable and kind individual.

Mr. Hanson’s letter in its entirety can be read by following the link below:

https://www.inforum.com/opinion/letters/4406244-letter-dale-vitalis-will-also-be-remembered-advocate-those-autism

Reverend Vitalis, thank you for your support, and thank you for your commitment to our community and our neighbors.  You will be missed.

Thank You. Thank You. Thank you.

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Last Thursday was Giving Hearts Day 2018.  Where were you on that day?  What will you say you did?

If you were one of the generous individuals who gave to Mind Shift, you can say many things.

You can say that you helped a non-profit meet its $25,000 match.

You can say that you made an impact on your community and your region.

You can say that you were one of the individuals that made Giving Hearts Day 2018 a record-breaking event.

And you can say you helped find meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum. 

Thank you to everybody who generously gave to Mind Shift.  We are excited to continue our mission to help individuals with ASD find independence, integrity, and an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to their community.

Thank you to the Impact Foundation and the Giving Hearts Day team for making this wonderful day a reality.  Because of you this day is a tradition.  And because of this day we can continue to make our communities and region a better place.

Thank you to Veronica Michael who took the time to educate the Mind Shift team on how it all works.  You are kind, and patient.  And thanks to Amanda Sayre for the weekly emails, you reminded us that we’re not on our own. 

Thank you to Be More Colorful, Abovo, and Office Sign Company for organizing the Giving Hearts Day event downtown.  We were honored and humbled to be included with The Arts Partnership, CHARISM, FFA, The F5 Project, CCRI, and TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics.  Thanks for spending the day with us.  And thanks to Thunder Coffee for fueling the fun!

This is going to be a wonderful year.  Thanks again. 

"There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle."  - Albert Einstein

Where were you on Giving Hearts Day 2018?

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Thursday is going to be a great day.  It’s National Kite Flying Day!  “Planet of the Apes” premiered on this day in 1968.  And it’s Giving Hearts Day! 

This is a big day for Mind Shift.  Giving Hearts Day helps us continue with our mission of finding great careers for adults on the autism spectrum. 

But this day of giving doesn’t only help Mind Shift.  There are hundreds of charities and non-profits that participate on this day.  These charities work to improve the lives of our neighbors and family, they improve our community.  So please mark your calendar, your generosity goes directly to helping these organizations and their missions.

This year, the first $25,000 donated to Mind Shift will be matched!  That means your money will go twice as far. 

We will be at Abovo in downtown Fargo on Giving Hearts Day, so come see us, join us for this day of fun.  Thanks to Be More Colorful and Office Sign Company for making the Giving Hearts Day Giving Stations happen. 

Go to www.givingheartsday.com to sign up for an email reminder.  And thank you.  When you give to Mind Shift, you give independence and opportunity to our friends and family on the autism spectrum.

It's Almost Giving Hearts Day!!

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Giving Hearts Day is right around the corner!    

It’s a special day because it allows Mind Shift to continue its mission to find careers for adults on the autism spectrum.  A career offers independence, it helps people feel valued, and gives an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way.

Please get involved this year by donating, volunteering, and spreading the word!  When you support local charities, you support your community and your neighbors.

2017 was a record-breaking year for the people at the Impact Institute, and they hope for this year to be the same.

Did you know that during the 2017 Giving Hearts Day:

·      $10, 692, 653 was raised for local charities and non-profits

·      21,816 people donated

·      There were 50,920 individual donations made

·      The average gift was $141.07

·      The average donor gave to 2.3 non-profits

·      People from 46 different states donated to Giving Hearts Day 2017

·      $2,959 was raised PER MINUTE!

Please mark your calendar for this year’s Giving Hearts Day, It’s on February 8th.  The first $25,000 donated to Mind Shift on this day will be matched!  That means your generosity will go twice as far.

Thank you to Giving Hearts and Impact Institute teams for your hard work and commitment.  And thank you for allowing us to join the fun.

Giving Hearts Day is February 8th!

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According to the website, www.givingheartsday.org, there are only 23 days, 14 hours, and 38 minutes until Giving Hearts Day 2018!  Mind Shift is preparing for this awesome day, and our excitement is building. 

Since its inception, Giving Hearts Day has raised over $41 million for regional non-profits and charities.  That is a lot of good being done, thanks to those who give on this exciting day.  

Mind Shift feels lucky to be included with the other great organizations that will be participating this year.  It’s our third year, and we hope it’s our best.  Every donation over $10 you make to Mind Shift will be matched up to $25,000!  That money goes directly to helping us continue our mission to find meaningful careers for people on the autism spectrum.

Don’t forget, Giving Hearts Day 2018 is on February 8th.  Mark your calendar! Give to the regional charities of your choice!  And please #countme and #givingheartsday all over social media. 

To make your #givingheartsday donation to Mind Shift, go to www.givingheartsday.org.  And to learn more about Mind Shift, and our mission of finding great jobs for people on the autism spectrum, visit www.mindshift.works.

ComDel Innovation Recognizes the Value of Autism Employment

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Almost a month ago Mind Shift placed its first Specialist in Wahpeton.  This is the second community in North Dakota that we now serve.  This is a great honor and privilege, and hope it’s the first of many opportunities to serve the Wahpeton/Breckenridge area.

We began working with ComDel Innovation many months ago to help them find somebody to fill a Document Coordinator role.  The team at ComDel was insightful enough to recognize that a person on the autism spectrum would have the skills and talents necessary to excel at this role.  Specifically, it was the focus, accuracy, and attention to detail found in people on the spectrum that made a partnership with Mind Shift a good business decision.

The name ComDel comes from the company’s history of committing to and delivering results to the many customers that they work with.  ComDel Innovation, with their world-class team and high-tech facility, have the capability to move ideas from product design and development to manufacturing and fulfillment. 

Mind Shift is currently recruiting for another company in the Wahpeton/Breckenridge area.  If you are somebody with autism who is looking for a meaningful career, please email us at info@mindshift.works

Or if you are a business that is looking for intelligent, talented employees who will move your business forward, do the same.  Again, that email address is info@mindshift.works.

We work every day to help high functioning adults on the autism spectrum find meaningful careers with great companies.  By partnering with outstanding businesses like ComDel Innovation, we can make this mission a reality.

Thank you ComDel.  We look forward to working with you, and changing the world with you, for many years to come.

Innovation and Hiring

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Happy New Year everybody!  Can you believe it’s 2018?  This year, our resolution is to innovate!  We want to find new and better ways to do what we do every day. We can’t do things the same old ways and expect different results.

Peter Drucker said, “if you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”  When I read this quote, I thought of the article “The Way We Hire People is Totally Insane” on the website 42hire.com. 

In the article, it is mentioned that the hiring methods of today were created for the economy and employment environment of many decades ago.

Indicators such as GPA, Degrees/Certifications held, and Years of Experience say little regarding accomplishments or performance.

Further, Interviewing Ability, Cover Letters, and Resumes don’t actually reflect workplace performance. 

The article states that this is essentially reasoning by analogy.

We see these sorts of challenges at Mind Shift.  Individuals on the autism spectrum often have difficulty with interviewing and resume writing because of the social challenges that come with the disability.  And we find indicators such as degrees and years of experience at an organization don’t always reflect the inherent ability of an individual, or how successful they will be in the workplace.

But if our hiring methods are antiquated, how do we move forward?  The article makes a few suggestions.  The best might be to spend “the time to identify what assumptions you are making about someone who possesses the required indicators, and making those assumptions more transparent and explicit.”  This act of reflection and communication could change the way we think about traditional ideas and methods, along with how we look at recruits and potential hires, which might lead to real innovation.

As William Pollard said, “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” 

Below is the link to the article:

https://42hire.com/the-way-we-hire-people-is-totally-insane-81d132235526

 

 

Merry Christmas to All, and Thank You.

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The holiday season is upon us.  2017 was quite a year!  We continue to change the lives of high functioning people on the autism spectrum because of those who believe in us, those who walk with us, and those who recognize the strengths of those on the spectrum. 

Thank you to our wonderful Specialists.  Your talents and skills are what give us confidence and strength to get out there every day and continue to work to change the world.  You’re trailblazers.  You’re mind shifters.

Thank you to all of our business partners.  Our goal of finding meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum would not be possible without you:

Accenture

Anne Carlsen Center

Anthem Healthcare

Appareo Systems

Aldevron

Bell Bank

Cargill

Caterpillar

ComDel Innovation

dogIDs

Eide Bailly

G.E. Healthcare

High Point Networks

Minnkota Enviroservices, Inc.

Target

Thank you to all of those organizations who will be partnering with Mind Shift next year. 2018 will be a year of independence and contribution for many people who might not get the opportunity without you.  We look forward to taking this journey with you.

And of course, thank you to our financial partners and donors. It’s your belief in us, and our mission, that inspires and drives us.  We will continue to change the world of work, but only because of your support.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody.  Be safe.  Stay warm.  And again, thank you.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Neurodiversity Benefits the Entire Organization

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At Mind Shift, we regularly speak of the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce.  We believe that the talents of individuals on the autism spectrum are numerous. 

This topic is addressed in the article “The Brand Benefits of Neurodiversity” by Charlotte Rogers, in the May 31 edition of Marketing Week Magazine. 

The article begins by reinforcing the idea that neurodiversity should be seen as existing on a spectrum.  And that individuals on this spectrum come to work with a diverse set of skills and talents, and that there are no stereotypical behaviors that will be found in every person.

We find this to be true.  We have had the opportunity to find meaningful careers for over 30 diverse and unique individuals working in areas such as high-tech manufacturing, health care, human resources, IT, document imaging, and the sciences, to name a few. 

Rogers speaks about SAP, and their Autism at Work program.  She mentions that SAP recognizes the benefits of diversity, and because of this they have 120 people with ASD working with 110 different teams.

Rogers also talks about the importance of ongoing support for both employees with ASD and their teams.  She also speaks about the importance of looking critically at an organization’s recruiting, onboarding, and training programs.  The author talks about Willis Tower Watson, an insurance broker that works to include individuals on the autism spectrum in their organization, and to train employees to look beyond the social challenges that might hold certain individuals back.

The author wraps up her article with a discussion on the business benefits of neurodiversity employment.  She mentions that individuals on the spectrum often bring creativity, persistence, loyalty, focus, and unique thinking skills that can directly benefit an organization’s profitability and reputation.

Our experiences working with both individuals on the spectrum, and with great organizations looking to leverage the benefit of autism employment find what Rogers says to be true.  There is a real value attained through autism employment, and by training and supporting teams to prioritize inclusion, the entire organization benefits.

To learn more about autism employment, and how our organization can help you do so, contact Mind Shift.  We work hard to find meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum.

The address to Charlotte Rogers’ article in Marketing Week is below:

https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/05/31/brand-benefits-neurodiversity/

 

 

Social Media Changes Lives

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Mind Shift is blessed to have a large number of supporters and advocates.  One question we hear regularly from our supporters is “how can I help more than I currently do?”  One simple answer is “like us” on social media.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  Share our blogs and posts.  Comment and give us a “thumbs up!”

Social media has become a very powerful tool for communicating ideas.  We use it to express opinions and to support causes.  And it has the power to change history.  Using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to educate and inform our friends and followers about Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of the easiest ways to improve the lives of those with the diagnosis.

Did you know…

Almost 1.7 billion people have social media accounts.

Last year, Facebook had 1.6 billion users daily, and added 6 new profiles every second.

The average Twitter user has 707 followers.

The average CEO has 930 LinkedIn connections.

Internet users have an average of 7.6 social media accounts.

About 3.7 billion people own a cell phone.  Only 3.5 billion people own a toothbrush.

One in 68 people are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  And 80 to 85 percent of these people are unemployed and underemployed.  The more the public understands ASD, the easier it will be for these intelligent, talented individuals to gain the quality of life and independence we hope for everyone.  By following us on social media, and sharing our posts, you can help Mind Shift’s mission of finding great careers for adults on the spectrum.

“It takes two flints to make a fire.”   - Louisa May Alcott

Autism and the Startup

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It’s no secret that businesses like Microsoft, HP, SAP, and Ernst and Young have realized the incredible value and ability that individuals on the autism spectrum bring to businesses. It’s also well-known that these large organizations are actively recruiting individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). 

But what about startups and smaller businesses?  With over 33% of U.S. businesses employing less than 100 people, it’s the small business and startup owner that would most benefit from the talents and skills of individuals on the autism spectrum.

Below is a short list of reasons why CEOs of startups should employ individuals with ASD:

1.     Innovation – Startups are known for the new ways they look at old problems.  Innovation comes from thinking outside of traditional or standardized models.  Individuals on the spectrum can bring a fresh and unique perspective to traditional ways of thinking.

2.     Focus – We’ve all heard the stories of startup CEOs working 16 hour days as they make their dreams a reality.  With their ability to focus, individuals on the spectrum make great allies to those who can’t seem to find enough hours to do what needs to be done.

3.     Process Optimization – This follows innovation and focus, in that visionaries are often so invested in their methods or models, they fail to see inefficiencies or redundancies.  Those on the spectrum are often the best at recognizing the quickest route to a goal.

4.     Attention to detail – Mistakes in a startup are often more costly than mistakes occurring within a larger, more established organization.  Individuals with ASD often have an uncanny ability to see the details in complex data sets, which would help entrepreneurs avoid costly mistakes.

5.     Commitment and loyalty – There’s a saying, “people on the spectrum don’t dig many holes, they dig one hole deep.”  Turnover is not only time consuming, it’s also expensive. This commitment to a work family is extremely valuable to a visionary growing their business.

Starting a new business is important work, and having the right people in the right seats goes a long way in assuring success. By employing people on the autism spectrum, CEOs and Visionaries are employing people with the skills and talents to help drive their business forward.

To learn more about recruiting and employing individuals with ASD, contact Mind Shift.  We work hard every day to find meaningful careers for people on the autism spectrum, and are ready to help you find great people.

 

Rethinking Normal

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In “Rethinking Autism: From Social Awkwardness to Social Creativity”, Scott Barry Kaufman challenges the idea that individuals with autism are “failed versions of “normal.””  The author continues, explaining that teaching this concept of “normal” and how to conform to it is the basis of our current modes of treatment and education.  Further, he discusses how new strategies are rejecting this idea, and that we shouldn’t try to change somebody to fit our expectations.  We are all our own version of normal.

Normal does not inspire ingenuity or innovation.  And rejecting somebody because they don’t meet our expectations of normal can create stagnation, and might result in some very important missed opportunities.

Below is a list of individuals who were penalized in one way or another because they chose to follow a path of non-conformity. These individuals are now considered icons, and masters of their fields:

1.      Oprah Winfrey was fired from her evening news reporter job because she was too emotional.

2.     Marilyn Monroe was not considered the modeling type, and modeling agencies recommended she try secretarial work.

3.     In the 1840s, Ignaz Semmelweis was mocked for his ideas regarding sanitation and hygene, and for requiring his doctors and midwives to wash their hands before childbirth.

4.     Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie”, was rejected 30 times. 

5.     Monet was mocked by the artistic elite during his lifetime.

6.     The Kansas City Star fired Walt Disney because they felt he had “no good ideas.”

When we require people to fit our idea of normal, we limit their ability to innovate and be thought leaders.  But by throwing out the idea that normal is a standard that needs to be met, we inspire those around us to reach their potential, which benefits us all.