Lessons From a Young Entrepreneur Who Has Autism

Business

By Ben Weinlick

My Bro and I

Okay, I admit I’m biased here because the young entrepreneur (Anthony) in the inspiring video below is my step-brother.  However, the recent media coverage and large number of views on Youtube are not biased and show how people have been inspired by Anthony’s story and keep sharing it.  Since his video was released on August 15th, 2012, Anthony’s video has had over 120,000 Youtube views, has been covered in national media and he received an email from CNN yesterday.  I should also add that I had nothing to do with the video.

The video below was made by Anthony’s stellar support worker, Mikey Hamm and is about the launch of my brother’s courier business, Anthony At Your Service.  Part of what is so cool about the video is that few people would think that a guy like my brother who has a significant disability could be supported to be an entrepreneur and contribute to society like any other citizen. I love how the video breaks our preconceived ideas about disability and does it with humour.  The video shows how a little creative thinking applied in human services(social services) can result in support models that aren’t simply about caring for the physical needs of vulnerable persons, but also help to empower and increase quality of life in a more complete way.  And really, at the heart of human services it’s about supporting people to have a good life and opportunities like any other person in society.

To do what Anthony’s support worker has done takes seeing a person with a disability as having gifts to contribute and some creative thinking to figure out new ways to link a person’s natural interests to valued roles.   From Anthony’s interests in being challenged, going out, meeting new people,  math and crossing things off a list, that was linked to figuring out a way to provide my brother with a real job and way to connect with others more.  The result of this creativity on the part of Mikey and my brother’s other supports, is Anthony being seen for his contributions in the community and now having a booming courier business.

Often the challenge in human services/community disability support services is that organizations and support staff do not see how they can link a person’s natural interests and talents with valued roles that increase quality of life.  Too often, we human service workers are blinded by seeing only deficits, glass half empty kind of stuff and perceived restrictions. This is one of the reasons we need new thinking, creative thinking and ways to break out of old assumptions about  support services and persons with disabilities.  With stories and videos like the one about my brother, it will for sure help in shifting people’s perception about what’s possible.

In the same way creativity is needed more than ever in business in order for products and services to stay relevant in our fast paced times, creativity is also deeply needed in human services so that support services are relevant to a person and actually improve their overall quality of life.

Hats off to my bro and Mikey! Oh, and  of course call Anthony for courier services if you are in Edmonton…When he drops by for a pick up or delivery, give Anthony a high five, chat about numbers, ask him about his poetry and show him your calendar.

Info on his site or call (780) 800-9915

Below is another related article on the need for creativity in human services

Click here for the article on the Creativity Post

Bright Ideas in Human Services

Interview I did with renowned disability services consultant about the value of creativity in human services

Project Citizenship: People with disabilities and their stories of engaged citizenship

Huffington Post article on Anthony 

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