Autism Advocacy groups are mounting a challenge to Bloomington Normal businesses to make the twin cities an autism friendly community. MarcFirst and Autism McLean are urging businesses to explore employing people on the spectrum.
Marty Murphy has autism. She said citizens and employers should try to find out how good a fit a worker with that disability can be.
"We are not 'Rain Man' It's a spectrum,. Some of us can do advanced calculus. And some of us can fold very precise towels," Murphy said.
Kari Sandhaas of Autism McLean said one example of an autism friendly practice includes Country Financial which offers trial periods and internships to find out the abilities of people with autism who may not be good at verbally sellng their skill set.
Jeff Pritts manages the Marriot Hotel in Uptown Normal. Pritts said he reached out to MarcFirst when the Marriot opened and now has six people with autism on staff, some since the hotel opened.
Brian Pihl is one of them. He works in the laundry room at the Uptown Marriot. Pihl says many people like him can succeed in the work place, they just need a little assist.
"The job coaching, the check-ins. That's predominently the services I receive. But, I will let the job coach know of anything, whether it's duty change, personnel change, oh new equipment, yes," Pihl said.
People with autism are also asking for social outlets such as autism friendly movies, and autism groups at area libraries.
According to Mike Matejka of Autism McLean, some people with autism favor low light or low noise environments. Some do not do well with social environments. And others need a steady routine. It varies, he said.
Area advocates hope to create more autism friendly places in Bloomington Normal, social environments, support services, gathering places, and yes work places too.