Comic books are full of heroes in hiding, but real world heroes with autism are beginning to come to the attention of others, and they’re making people realize just how amazing they truly are. Entrepreneurs with autism are proving that no matter what experts may say about someone’s abilities, finding an one’s unique skills is just a matter of being open to seeing them.
Of course, everyone knows about Temple Grandin an advocate who developed a business designing equipment for handling livestock that is used all over the country. However her success in business is no longer so unbelievable. Real world heroes with autism are starting their own businesses, and showing the public just how successful they can be when their skills are released from the box society imposes on them.
Just like the heroes in comic books, these real life heroes have sidekicks who help them run their businesses, usually family members who are the first to discover their children’s true identities as they are growing up. Many adults with autism can run businesses if they are given the chance to develop skills around their interests. Often family members play a big part by providing opportunities for those skills to develop.
Real world heroes with autism reach their full potential with these sidekicks on their side, helping them with the details that fall outside their own talents. For instance, Matt Cottle, the owner of the Stuttering King Bakery and its principal baker, has his mother Peg handle the ordering and marketing areas of the business. Like any other business owner, having others work for him allows him to focus on his product without dealing with distractions that would slow him down. Since he can get orders for up to 300 cookies at a time, he needs to make every minute count!
Real world heroes with autism can be found on many different areas of the autistic spectrum with their sidekicks by their side. Christopher Tidmarsh graduated from college with degrees in chemistry, environmental science, and languages, but he was unable to find work because traditional workplaces didn’t understand how to communicate with people with autism. While they were unable to see the reality of his abilities beyond the accommodations he needed, his mother knew his hidden talents and with her as his sidekick they started a company called Green Bridge Growers. Christopher’s company grows vegetables in water through aquaponics, allowing him to use knowledge he gained in his studies at college and through the time he spent interning with organic farmers.
Another hero who’s changing the way society views people with disabilities is Joe Steffy, who has both autism and down syndrome. While Joe is unable to talk, he responds to reporters through writing, and works in every area of his business, Poppin Joe’s Gourmet Kettle Corn, which he began in 2005. His sidekicks include not just his family members, but also employees that he’s hired. Joe supervises his part-time workers and helps with the interviewing process before they are hired so that he can be sure they will be good members of his team.
Entrepreneurship is proving to be a real solution for these real world heroes with autism, and with their sidekicks by their side they’re proving that there’s “more to them than meets the eye.” Real world heroes are tearing down the limits society imposese on people with autism.