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Warning: Hunger Games Ahead

EmploymentopportunitiesBy Dan E. Burns

Will it be “Hunger Games” for our kids as adults, or can we bend the future? After an unsuccessful interview with Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), which is supposed to help find work for disabled adults, my son Ben tore up his Jobs People Do book. Today as a 24-year-old adult he’s stuck in dayhab. His eyes still ask, “Please unlock the door. Please open the future.”

Autism Trust USA, in conjunction with Autism Trust (UK) and An Independent me (AIM), is planning to do just that.

On April 22, young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder will serve lunch to guests at the Spider House Café in Austin, Texas as part of an international ‘Give Autism a Chance’ campaign. The goal: to prove that they can live productive lives and work within a wide range of professional capacities. DARS will be there watching, and so will ASD-friendly employers in Texas and beyond.

Gary Moore, co-founder of nonPareil Institute in Dallas, tells a story of unlocked talents and newly-opened doors. “Our student instructor is on the spectrum,” he says. “Until we trained and hired her, she was throwing newspapers. Now she’s heading a team that creates and sells apps on iTunes. All our kids with ASD have hidden skills and talents. But most employers can’t see past the autism. They haven’t figured out how to identify and take advantage of their gifts. We’ve got to change that.”

Gary has been invited to attend our “Give Autism A Chance” event at Spider House Café in Austin, on April 22, from noon to 3:00 pm. See photos of this funky, iconic Austin restaurant at Spider House Cafe.

Kids are welcome. Will you come? Please connect with us at http://www.facebook.com/AutismTrust.USA and www.facebook.com/GiveAutismaChance. Sign up for a time slot at www.giveautismachance.eventbrite.com Let’s rock the future and bend the curve of history away from “Hunger Games” toward a fulfilling life for our kids.

Dan E. Burns, Ph.D., is the father of a 24-year-old son on the autism spectrum and the author of Saving Ben: A Father’s Story of Autism. Dr. Burns is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism and is Adult Issues Liaison for AutismOne. He chairs The Autism Trust USA, (www.theautismtrustusa.org), a 501(c)3 charity focused on empowering parents to organize communities where their ASD children and others can live and work, enjoy life, continue to heal, and give back to society.



I, too, had an encounter this week with DARS. The counselor does not have a clue about Autism and how pervasive it is on lives. I tried explaining to him that the entire dept. needed to take training on Autism Spectrum Disorders and he replied that "they all have the opportunity to do so should they so choose". I shall do my best to travel to Austin for the event. Gary Moore has given me so much more hope for my son.

Wendy Frye

Go Dan! My son, graduating this year from high school, will be going on to college. He wants to be an artist, animator and musician. He stood up at Vocational Rehab (required step in our state) and adked about how long it will take to get to his future. Not a dry eye in the room.......

Michael Leventhal

Organizations like NonPariel provide students with essential skills plus the opportunity to develop personal portfolios/resumes that speak for themselves. Unfortunately, there are not enough organizations structured to provide such opportunity. I highly recommend that parents/caregivers take the initiative of documenting all evidence of accomplishment in order to build a fuller, clearer picture of their child (or of themselves if on the spectrum).

Eileen Nicole Simon

Dan, your Spider House Cafe looks awesome, and your Autism Trust Organization will help to fill a huge need. My son is certainly capable of doing useful work. Sadly he lives in a "community" group home, where all the residents get do is smoke one cigarette every hour on the hour, on the back porch, looking out at the garbage cans. I put my son to work writing a memoir with me, and I thank you for finding the concise link to it at http://ow.ly/9ZLr8.

I went on your website and read the excerpt of your book, Saving Ben. Very moving. You write so well. I look forward to reading the rest of the book soon.

Joan Campbell

I shall not be there as I live in Scotland but my 19 year old son Jack will have his hanging willow fish and trees for sale at the event. I wish you the best of luck for the day.


What a great play on words - of hunger games.
My son is going to start looking for work the end of May.
He is suppose to get his stuff together so we can write a resume.
It is me that has an aneixty attacks. What if, what if, what ifs.


Best of luck to all the adults participating in the "Give Autism a Chance" event. Sounds wonderful. You are a true pioneer Dan!

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