Is it possible for a non-verbal 25 year-old man on the autistic spectrum to find a meaningful and productive job? The answer is no—unless his parents happen to be as creative and determined as Sharon & Larry Slipow have been with their son Logan. As the mother of a high functioning daughter (also 25), I know how difficult it can be, even for a cum laude college grad. My daughter still does not have paid employment, though she shares her singing talent and love of musical theater by performing in two different theater groups. Still, I would love for Samantha to work at her passion (sharing her love of music with special needs kids) even once a week the way Logan does a food run once a week.
According to the Bureau of Labor, in June 2014, only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force – working or seeking work. Of those, 12.9 percent were unemployed, meaning only 16.8 percent of the population with disabilities was employed. (By contrast, 69.3 percent of people without disabilities were in the labor force, and 65 percent of the population without disabilities was employed.) Only 35% of people on the spectrum ages 18-23 have had a job or received college education after high school. This must be addressed so that our loved ones have the greatest chance for independence as adults. The Slipow family is a wonderful—and inspirational–model.
Logan Slipow’s parents have used their son’s love of running outside and sitting in the family car to create his own community service project: Logan’s Run.
Every Sunday, the young man with tousled, dark hair collects cans of food from people’s front stoops, throws them into the family’s trunk – sometimes with a heave-ho – and leaves a note thanking them for their donation to local food pantries.
“It reinforces the concept of ‘Do not let autism get in the way of doing your bit,’ ” Sharon said. “That’s the message: Find a way.”