This story is fiction, but it’s based on real situations and real outcomes that we work with every day at Mind Shift.
Mark really wants to find a job so he can afford his own apartment and living expenses. He knows he’s got great attention to detail and he likes to do any number of different things, especially if he can repeat them and get them just right each time.
Mark knows he has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and as part of that, he realizes that he’s not the best at making eye contact. He doesn’t like to talk much unless it’s about one of his favorite subjects. He wishes he could drive, but is happy he can take the bus to most places he needs to go.
Since his interview skills are not very good (he doesn’t like shaking hands either), Mark has had a hard time finding a job. He’s still living at home and feeling frustrated.
Janice is so excited about her small jewelry business. She loves creating her designs, and working with customers, and is very proud that her business has grown enough to hire a few people to help with orders. She has always valued offering carefully crafted handmade items, but she may not be able to keep up with demand.
One day, Mark gets off the bus near Janice’s shop. While looking at the beautiful jewelry in the window he sees a sign that says, “Now Hiring”. Mark went inside and said to the first person he saw, which happened to be Janice, “I like your jewelry in the window. I want to work here”. But, that was about it. He couldn’t look Janice in the eye or tell her about how good he’d be at putting together her products, making each one just right. Or even that he could box them up and put labels on them for shipping. Janice wanted to know more.
She could see how interested he was but didn’t know how to respond. She tried asking Mark a few questions, but the conversation didn’t go anywhere and Mark left.
Janice still needs help in her store. She needs someone she can count on to pay attention to detail and who doesn’t mind making several of the same items. She could use help in some other areas too, like shipping and ordering supplies. Mark still needs a job and is very eager to be independent.
Harnessing Unique Abilities: The Journey of Mark and Janice
What If, instead...
Mark heard about Mind Shift at a job fair and used their contact form to let them know he was looking for a job. Mind Shift reached out to get to know Mark using a conversational style to determine his learning style, interests, and skills. They also provided training to help Mark improve his time management, stress management, prioritizing, and communication skills.
Janice replied to an email campaign that Mind Shift sent out to local businesses. She said she could really use some help but that many of the people she has hired did not work out – they didn’t pay attention to details or got tired of focusing on the repetitive task of making her hand-made jewelry.
Mind Shift spends some time getting to know Janice and what she needs in her business. They help her understand how someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder might enjoy and thrive helping her with her hand-made products.
However, they might also be able to help with other tasks that she needs like preparing goods for shipping or answering email inquiries about order status. This time, Mind Shift presents Mark as a candidate for Janice’s hiring needs. They introduce Mark and explain his skills and interests. They help Janice understand how to best work with Mark to support him in helping her meet her goals. Mark has a tour and is given extra time to ask questions and decide if it’s a job he really would enjoy.
Fast Forward 3 months: Mark gets off the bus at Janice’s shop. He comes in and greets Janice and the other staff.
He puts his coat away and settles into his workspace where he’s ready for a day of making beautiful jewelry. Janice smiles because Mark has been a great addition to the team. He has really opened up over the last few weeks. There were a couple of times that she reached out to Mind Shift when she just didn’t know what to do when Mark wasn’t showing up at his usual time and always seemed agitated at work.
Her training with Mind Shift helped her understand that it wasn’t that Mark wouldn’t answer her, but that he couldn’t. Mark did reach out to Mind Shift to help him explain that he liked the other staff and his work, but the noise from the polishing machine put his teeth on edge. His earplugs weren’t helping either. Mind Shift was there for them both, to help advocate, train, and develop trust and communication.
Once Mark explained the problem, he and Janice found a solution that moved the polishing machine into a different room. It’s a few extra steps over to use it, but it is nicer to have the noise out of the main workroom. Mark and Janice have a great working relationship. Janice will give it a few more months but plans to make Mark an offer for direct hire. Mark is hoping to be able to work for Janice directly. It would feel good to know he’s in a long-term and stable position.
He and Janice expect things to work out great, but they both know that Mind Shift will be there to help smooth out any bumps that come up along the way.
Advocacy Beyond Placement: The Mind Shift Mission
At Mind Shift, we help place people on the Autism Spectrum into career positions and long-term roles that fit their unique skills.
In our story above, Mark thrived when he was able to repeat a task and given time to make sure it was done “just right”.
While some of our Specialists thrive in production roles, we also place people in Lab Technician, Software Engineering, Quality Assurance, and a variety of other roles.
We work with our Business Partners to help them see the valuable contributions that our Specialists bring to their organization. We also help train their staff to understand better Autism in the Workplace and how they might best work with their new colleague. We are active advocates and mentors for our Specialists and our Business Partners during the entire time our Specialists are placed with a company.
If it’s a great fit for both parties, and our Specialist becomes a Direct Hire of the company, we will still be there long after to support that growing relationship.
Supporting Autism in the Workplace
Every day we help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder meet their goals of meaningful long-term employment. They are willing to take on new challenges and make the changes they can to succeed in their new role.
Our Business Partners help them reach this goal by offering open positions. They are willing to gain a greater understanding of the value our Specialists bring to their team.
They are also willing to learn how they can help best work with people on the Autism Spectrum and how to help them succeed in their role. We are grateful to be facilitating these partnerships in our community.
Your Support Matters
Consider a donation to Mind Shift to help us make these placements happen. Your donation will directly offset the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training our Specialists which will allow us to take on more Candidates.
With some education and advocacy, many people on the Autism Spectrum can enjoy the mental, physical, emotional, and financial benefits of employment. To help them succeed long-term, we help them gain employment doing work that fits their skills with a team that is trained to support their success.
Your donation will have a direct and positive impact on the life of someone navigating Autism Spectrum Disorder. Thank you for your time, consideration, and care.
Understanding Mind Shift's Approach to Autism Employment
Mind Shift tackles Autism support in the workplace through a multi-pronged approach:
- Matching Specialists: We assess individual strengths and interests to match them with suitable jobs that leverage their unique talents.
- Job coaching and training: We provide ongoing support and guidance to help individuals acclimate and thrive in their new roles.
- Employer education and awareness: We educate businesses about the benefits of hiring neurodiverse talent and equip them with resources to create inclusive workplaces.
- Advocacy and policy development: We work towards creating policies and practices that favor inclusivity and remove barriers for autistic individuals in employment.
- Community building: We foster a supportive network for individuals on the spectrum through events, workshops, and online resources.
There are several ways you can contribute to Mind Shift’s mission:
- Donate: Financial contributions help fund our programs and services, allowing us to reach and support more individuals.
- Volunteer: Offer your time and skills to assist with various tasks, such as fundraising, event planning, or administrative work.
- Spread awareness: Talk about Mind Shift and our work to raise awareness about neurodiversity and the value of hiring individuals on the autism spectrum.
- Hire through Mind Shift: If you’re a business owner or hiring manager, consider partnering with Mind Shift to tap into their pool of talented individuals.
- Advocate for change: Support policies and initiatives that promote inclusivity and equal opportunities for people on the autism spectrum in the workplace.
Yes, Mind Shift Works is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations made to them are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Absolutely! Individuals can visit the Mind Shift website or reach out directly through their contact information to explore available opportunities and register their interests. We also encourage individuals to attend their events and workshops to connect with potential employers.
Mind Shift offers ongoing support to both businesses and individuals they connect:
- For Businesses: We provide ongoing consultation and guidance on creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace, ensuring a smooth and successful onboarding and integration process for new hires.
- For Specialists: We offer job coaching and mentorship throughout the individual’s employment journey, helping them navigate any challenges and maximize their potential. We also provide access to continuous learning and development opportunities.