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4 Ways Companies Win by Hiring Adults with Autism - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

4 Ways Companies Win by Hiring Adults with Autism


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Ian, a recycling tech at Blue Star Recyclers, has his own way of dealing with stress.


He spins for a few minutes to calm himself down. And then he gets back to work.

Blue Star chief executive officer Bill Morris has a pretty good idea how some employers might respond to a spinning Ian or to any other worker with developmental disabilities.

“Young adults with development disabilities sometimes can look different or act different, and it's easy for employers to focus on that,” he says.

What they'd miss, Morris says, are “enormous talents” that make Ian and other developmentally disabled young people remarkable, and remarkably productive, workers.

Here are 4 ways employers can win when they look past the differences and hire a developmentally disabled young adult:

1. They're model employees.

Morris confesses that when he started at Blue Star, he underestimated his new employees. “I didn't know how good they were,” he says. “I was blown away.”

An independent study of Blue Star employees with autism spectrum and other disorders found that they have a 97 percent task engagement rate, take pride in their jobs, have high rates of attendance, look forward to going to work and receive fair wages when considering their disabilities.

2. Positive, consistent results to the bottom line.

Blue Star employs 38 adults with developmental disabilities. Since its start in 2009, the company has ethically recycled more than 7 million pounds of e-waste and saved taxpayers money by providing employment for a population typically reliant on government assistance.

And Blue Star's workforce has turned in a performance that would be the envy of any company. In six years there has been zero absenteeism, zero on-the-job accidents and zero turnover. In the world of e-recycling, these employees out-perform their non-disabled peers.

“These statistics are unheard-of in a production workforce,” Morris says. “Our workers are super-productive and super-safe.”

3. They are an untapped pool of talent ready to work.

Young adults with autism have higher unemployment rates compared to young adults with other types of disabilities and a higher rate of complete social isolation as they struggle to find a foothold in the adult world.

Just 42 percent of adults in their early 20s with autism have had a paying job outside the home and fewer still, 19 percent, lived away from parents without supervision, according to Drexel University's 2015 “National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood.”

“In our experience, the high unemployment rate has nothing to do with disability, it only reflects a lack of opportunity,” Morris says. “When they get an opportunity, as demonstrated at Blue Star, they knock it out of the park.”

4. Young adults find purpose, and taxpayers get a break

Morris likes to point out the “magnificent double-whammy” that takes place when companies employ young adults who'd otherwise be isolated and supported by government programs. The workers find new purpose and thrive. And as they become self-sufficient, taxpayers no longer foot the bill for their government-funded SSI support.

“A developmentally disabled adult who works fulltime basically saves the taxpayer as much as they earn in income. It's win-win,” Morris says.

Morris encourages others to follow Blue Star's lead.

“Behind their disability is a set of assets and attitudes that are incredible,” says Morris. “Employers should take a good, solid look at this workforce's potential for specific kinds of work.”

Learn more about Blue Star Recyclers and how it contributes to the environment, the Colorado Springs tax base and young worker's lives. Drop by our website to learn more about our pick-up service for business e-waste, download a list of the items we accept and support our mission with a tax-free donation.

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  • 4 Ways Companies Win by Hiring Adults with Autism

    4 Ways Companies Win by Hiring Adults with Autism

    From Our Sponsors:Ian, a recycling tech at Blue Star Recyclers, has his own way of dealing with stress. He spins for a few minutes to calm himself down. And then he gets back to work. Blue Star chief executive officer Bill Morris has a pretty good idea how some employers might respond to a spinning Ian or to any other worker with developmental disabilities. “Young adults with development disabilities sometimes can look different or act different, and it's easy for employers to focus on that...
    From Our Sponsors:Ian, a recycling tech at Blue Star Recyclers, has his own way of dealing with stress. He spins for a few minutes to calm himself down. And then he gets back to work. Blue Star chief executive officer Bill Morris has a pretty good idea how some employers might respond to a spinning Ian or to any other worker with developmental disabilities. “Young adults with development disabilities sometimes can look different or act different, and it's easy for employers to focus on that...
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