Autism, Employment and Hope

Autism, Employment and Hope: three word we usually do not see in the same sentence, let alone consecutively.  

This is for good reason.

The employment rates among people with Autism are dismal. 

Studies estimate a staggering 50-75% of the 5.6 million autistic adults in the U.S. are unemployed or underemployed. Nearly 50% of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job, despite having the skill sets and expertise to excel in the workplace.

This is why I am so inspired by the women, mothers and teachers like Kim & Noelle from Beanz & Co., Tia from Trev’s Trades, and Rachel from The Spotlight Project who have created businesses centered around providing employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Not only are their missions (read more below) inspiring, their products are fabulous. I can attest to this personally as I am a regular at Beanz (their baked goods are soooo good) and I have several soaps from Tree’s Trades (bonus, you can get one by entering my podcast giveaway, and I wear my Spotlight bracelets everywhere I go because they go with everything.  

If this is your first time hearing of these brands, let me tell you why they are amazing and how they are an example for each one of us of what it might look like to create employment opportunities that fit our kids’ strengths and needs instead of waiting for the world to make room for them.

They are examples of how Autism, Employment and Hope can become a reality.

Kim & Noelle from Beanz & Co. 

Beanz & Co.

BeanZ + Co is an inclusive coffee café in Avon, CT, employing equal numbers of individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Beanz was co-founded by Kim and Noelle, mothers to adults daughters with Down syndrome, who met when their children were toddlers.  Kim and Noelle founded Beanz as their daughters were aging out of the educational system in order to provide them and other young adults with  disabilities the opportunity to work alongside typical peers.

In addition to employing and coaching employees with disabilities, Kim & Noelle educate and consult with other businesses to encourage them to follow their lead.

To support Beanz & Co build its new kitchen for its NEW location, visit its GoFundMePage here.

Tia From Trev’s Trades: Where Autism Meets Potential

Tia is the mother of Trev, a young adult with Autism and other disabilities.  When Trevor was a young man, Tia saw the need for him to engage in “real work.”  Harnessing her son’s interest and skills, Tia created Trev’s Trades to provide her son with meaningful employment and the pride of a product well made.

To win a handcrafted soap fro Trev’s Trades, rate and review The Autism Mom Coach Podcast here and email me the title of your review at

Rachel from The Spotlight Project

Rachel works as a physical therapist in a special needs school treating students up to the age of 21.  

According to the website:

“Her work in the school system led to her interest in discovering what career opportunities were available to her students as they graduated into the workforce.  What she learned is that the unemployment rate for adults with disabilities is 80%, and many of the jobs available do not offer a creative platform, promote growth, or give the individual a voice to speak.  Based on these findings, she had two choices; dwell on the disappointing reality, or do something to ignite a change. 

This led to the creation of The Spotlight Project.”

The Spotlight Project employees individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to create handcrafted  bracelets.  As part of the Spotlight project, each team members plays an integral role in all stages of the bracelet making process from brainstorming color and design ideas to the threading and crafting the finished product.

Rachel and The Spotlight Project were recently featured at the Finding Cooper’s Voice / More Than A Project Retreat. 


Autism, Employment and Hope is possible.  Like so many other things on this Autism journey, employment for our kids may not come in the package that we want or imagined.  This is OK!  Like Kim & Noelle, Tia and Rachel, we can dwell on the disappointing reality, or do something to ignite a change. 

P.S. To win a handcrafted soap fro Trev’s Trades, rate and review The Autism Mom Coach Podcast here and email me the title of your review at

P.P.S. To receive the 7 Truths Every Autism Mom Needs to Know, subscribe here.