How one autistic adult is changing the workplace for good

It's a sad statistic almost nine out of every ten autistic adults are either out of work or underemployed. 

Growing up, Jairo Arana always felt alone.

"Elementary, middle school, high school… it was very difficult for me to socialize." Jairo Arana, patient

His own family was at a loss about what to do.

"There was a lot of bullying, there was a lot of making fun of, where he didn't understand what was going on." Michelle Arana, Jairo's sister

Long after his childhood, Jairo finally was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger's syndrome. 

"It's like I find out when I'm 40, it's like why didn't I find out before?" Jairo Arana  

Like most of his peers, Jairo wanted to work and be more independent, but he didn't know where to start. 

"For them to make the most of their potential, they really need assistance from people that understand their unique challenges." Deborah Chin, Manager, UM- NSU card

Like the program card. It supports and trains adults with autism for jobs. 

"Taught me how to seek for a job, taught me how to dress for a job, how to do an interview for a job. Workplace etiquette, behaviors, when it's time to talk when it's time not to talk." Jairo Arana 

Jairo met Shelly Baer there. She developed project salt to advocate for people with disabilities.

"It stands for self-advocate leadership training." Shelly Baer, Univ. Of Miami

Jairo learned how to stand up for himself and all people with disabilities. So Shelly sent him to Capitol Hill as an advocate.

"I said he's a leader, he's a future emerging leader." Shelly Baer

Jairo says the program has changed his life. And now he knows the path he must take. 

"What I feel, what I want is people with autism to be given a chance, that's what I would ask for is give us a chance." Jairo Arana 

A chance Jairo didn't think he'd have growing up. There is also a push for employers to undergo training for employees with autism. 

The card program, which stands for the center for autism and related disabilities, is based in Florida. 

For more information on the card program, click here.


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