Zero to Hero

On January 1, we taught our son Clay how to clean wheelie bins. Clay is 16. He is in Grade 11, he loves motor sports with a passion and is a tall well mannered young man. Clay is also autistic. He had tried to find an after school job, but nobody could look past his mild communication deficit and see his potential. Shame really, like throwing away a rock to find out there was a diamond within.

We decided to set him up with a small business cleaning wheelie bins. We hoped he’d secure work from neighbours, family and friends. Well we haven’t even asked one neighbour yet. His business has been an outstanding success. Unable to keep up with demand, he now also hires two additional teens. He has an interactive website and a corporate uniform. Coming soon is a loyalty rewards program.

Clay is earning good coin. It’s keeping his yearning for high end gaming equipment well and truly satisfied. With much satisfaction we have watched our son blossom into a self confident young man. He is extremely proud of his hard work and his business. He engages with his customers with ease. We are looking at introducing more services when he graduates next year. Clay won’t need to find a job, he will need to find more employees.

Another great side effect of his business has been the followers on his Facebook page. We recently ran a poll with 98% voting yes to learning more about autism. His Facebook page is called “Clay Needs No Moulding” because we accept him as is.

Watching the amazing transformation in Clay and using my background in training and public speaking, I am now ready to help other parents help their autistic teens develop their own micro business.

Believing in your child is the only thing required. I have learned some amazing and creative ways to use social media to advertise free. Clay has had a bit of media interest which again took us completely by surprise. My goal is to have an army of autistic teenagers out in the ‘burbs having a go and at the very least adding to their resume.

If you assume failure, you’re defeated. Assume competence always. It’s not a question of can’t do it but rather how can he/she be supported to do it.

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