The Goodness Gift is a social enterprise which sells themed gift baskets. This is an initiative developed by the SAAAC Autism Centre as a response to the lack of training and employment opportunities for young adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Our enterprise will train adults with autism who are currently out of school to be employed in all aspects of our company – from order processing to inventory management to the packaging and delivery of goods. Through providing employment opportunities, we hope to increase the independence and participation of adults living with Autism within our community. This allows us to treat the Goodness Gift as an avenue to spread awareness and build an inclusive community.
Our target population is adults living with autism who are currently out of school and are seeking additional support and employment. The years after high school are bleak. Parents liken it to “falling off a cliff” after kids age out of the children’s system, facing few supports such as day programs or access to assistants who can help them volunteer or hold jobs.
Since autism is a spectrum disorder, adults with autism experience a variety of challenges that prevent them from entering the job market. Some challenges arise from difficulties with developing appropriate social skills. In turn, this manifests into challenges working with others, having inappropriate social interactions, and low self-esteem. In addition, some adults on the autism spectrum have challenges regulating behaviours and emotion, advocating for one’s needs, and lack of motivation or drive.
Given these challenges, we believe this is a group that has a lot of strengths that can benefit businesses including being detail oriented, routine driven, and punctual. In addition, turnover rates for employees with autism is very low – this is considered an asset for many businesses because it decreases costs associated with hiring and training. The nature of the work required to assemble and sell the Goodness Gifts align closely with the strengths observed in individuals living on the spectrum, and vital skills to increase independence.