As a father of an adult son with autism, I often wondered when my son was growing up, what he would be doing as an adult. Fortunately, no… amazingly fortunately, our son Evan, my wife and I found Extraordinary Ventures (EV).

Evan began his work as an employee of EV in early October 2016. Like almost every person starting their first job, Evan was nervous and joyful about this work opportunity. I remember waiting to call him when he returned home that night to ask him how was his first day on the job. That call resulted in a big wide smile on my face. A few weeks later, when my wife and I asked if he wanted to go with us on an out of town trip with us, his simple reply was… no, I have to work. Words, I quite frankly thought I would never hear.

Beside from being Evan’s dad, I also am the President/CEO of the Autism Society of America. In my position with the Autism Society of America, I see daily the lack of meaningful employment opportunities for adults with autism I see tremendous talent among these adults, but far too few opportunities and way too many denial of opportunities for adults with autism to engage in meaningful and living wage paid employment. This is not the case with EV. EV values the work of each of their employees and fully respects their work and what each person brings to their work force. They are teaching work skills and job responsibilities to those they employ so that if a worker wants to advance at EV to a more responsive and higher paying job, they have such an opportunity. As important, if that worker wants to seek other employment, they would leave EV with tremendous skills and work ethics making that person an ideal candidate for so many other jobs.

Research studies on a person’s quality of life all show that when a person is employed and when that person is valued and respected, their quality of life increases significantly. When that same person sees the results of his or her work and is paid a livable wage allowing that individual to become more independent and self sufficient, that too helps a person increase their love of life. EV does all that and more.

Certainly there are other fine employment related programs for adults with autism. And many of those are helping just like EV. But, for Evan, EV was his perfect entry into the workforce. Thank you to EV, its staff and board members for putting a smile of joy on the faces of our family and especially Evan. And congratulations on ten years of caring, being there for so many, and for showing the important and needed value of each adult with autism.