Susan's Blog

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Grass is Always (Wal)Greener

Hooray for Walgreen’s! They are setting an example for the rest of the country. Why the hell not go that extra yard and hire a lot of people with disabilities? Are non-disabled people always such a bargain? There is a huge untapped workforce among those with disabilities. With a little creative thinking and openmindedness, we could be employing a full range of people and who knows what kind of positive changes that could bring?

My first phone conference meeting with the Young Adult/Adult Services Subcommittee of Autism Speaks went very well, by the way. They are a dynamic group of people from all over the country, real powerhouses in autism resources. Per my suggestion, they are going to set up an Autism Works section on their website and they are striving to become a clearinghouse of information and resources for the employment of autistic people. We want to know about good role models, employers who, like Walgreen’s, are moving beyond society’s barriers to build a more dignified, diverse workforce. We are also going to be writing a paper on transition and pre-voc training, what educators need to know, as well as working with policymakers towards more legislation that funds employment resources for the disabled. All very exciting, exactly what I wanted to be doing, but with the muscle of Autism Speaks behind the effort it should bear some interesting fruit.


A warehouse with 40% disabled workers… 20% more efficient than other warehouses.

Maybe it’s the good design, or the pressure on these folks to prove they can be good workers; but whatever it is, it might start a trend. I hope so.

I was rather amazed that they would consider Asperger Syndrome a disability bad enough for a placement specifically for disabled people, but now that I’m trying to find work, I guess I understand why. Aspies seem “weird” to potential employers; and when it’s so very important to make a good impression in a job interview, it’s hard to get hired. I’ve been trying for two months, and still no job… What’s sad is that I can perform just as well as any NT. I just have a harder time getting hired.

— added by Chaoticidealism on Saturday, July 7, 2007 at 11:47 pm

Ooooh! I wonder if we have stuff like that un the UK? Nice.

— added by Beth on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 10:24 am

Hi Susan,
I’ve noticed that my local Stop and Shop employs handicapped adults– not always sure of the handicap, don’t know about autism per se. I don;t know if this is corporate program or just the local manager’s idea, but it works well.


— added by Sarai on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 11:05 am

Interesting! Walgreens always seems to be in the [bad] press as exploiting their workers / taking over the economic world/ concreting over the environment! I’ll have to give them a rethink.

— added by Maddy on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 2:48 pm

Hi Susan,
Yeah for Walgreens…
In the near future, I will be working as a person in charge of Adult Autism Services with The University Of Texas Autism Project.
Just a footnote on Walgreen’s…our youngest used to scream every time we drove by Walgreens….he did not like them.
Of course, here in Austin, they are on every corner…we would try to divert his attention to the best of our abilities.
Now, he just barely whimpers…ah, maturity..gotta love it.
I will say it again, HOORAY for AUTISM SPEAKS for getting you on board…

— added by Mom26children on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 2:56 pm

So you truly are the enemy then?

Nothing about us without us,

The us in this case being disabled people for whom autism speaks shows nothing but contempt in there ethos how the hell can an organisation respect disabled people considering the garbage they have to say about autism.

Patronise away you have definately lost it today.

When autism speaks speaks they lie.

— added by The author on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 3:02 pm

that is awesome! I am going to do a lot more of my shopping there from now on!!!

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 3:16 pm

Susan, it’s so wonderful you are pushing your efforts in this direction. You will be a powerhouse too, I’m sure! I also felt the same joy you did when I saw the video about Walgreen’s. Let’s hope it paves the way for more opportunities for special people…what a relief that would be for all of us parents.

— added by Candy on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 11:19 pm

I may have to switch from CVS to Walgreen’s — what a wonderful story!

— added by Donna Baker on Monday, July 9, 2007 at 2:36 pm