Teen with autism inspires job site for special needs applicants - FOX 32 News Chicago

Teen with autism inspires job site for special needs applicants

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Today’s job market is a competitive one. It is even harder for people with challenges like autism.

A new website aims to help.

By Friday night AutismJobBoard.com will be live listing employers ready to hire qualified people with autism. The site was created by Attorney Shannon Nash whose 16 year old son Jason was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old.

“Luckily at his school they have a vocational program where they run the coffee shop for the school so I got to thinking, oh my gosh, he can do this when he’s older, let me go online and start finding him internships, only you can’t find that online,” said Nash in an interview with FOX 32’s Tisha Lewis.

Nash is unveiling AutismJobBoard.com at the 12th Annual Autism One Conference in Rosemont this weekend.

“What we are trying to focus on is obviously give the public awareness about why these people with autism make great employees,” said Nash.

Nash says the online tool is more than a typical job board – it offers a career center and employer resource guide, naming companies that have hired people with autism.

The Orchard Village organization in Skokie provides training and work skills to people with special needs long before the hiring process begins. Its Vocational Director Theresa Kopitzke says the biggest obstacle for special needs applicants is overcoming stereotypes.

“There are so many people that if they could just get into a position, I know that they can do it but a first impression is so hard and when you are working with somebody who has difficulty understanding social cues, it maybe comes off as though they do have some social differences, it can be so hard just to get somebody placed,” said Kopitzke.

Kopitzke hopes AutismJobBoard.com will help.

“There’s not really one place to go, one place where you can say, what are the companies that are going to be understanding of the needs of some of these workers,” said Kopitzke.

“I want my son to be able to go on like anybody else and find a job,” said Nash.

FOX 32’s Tisha Lewis reports some states offer tax benefits to employers who hire people with special needs.

More Info: Orchard Village, Autism Job Board

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