CHICAGO (WLS) -- April is Autism Awareness Month, and we at Eyewitness News are taking a look at some issues of concern to that community. Experts say about one in every 45 youngsters today will be diagnosed with the condition.
A pressing need for autistic youngsters as they mature into adulthood is securing suitable employment.
We had the pleasure of talking to a young man who is finding his way in the workplace, while at the same time trying to help others achieve what he's accomplished. Right now, he and his co-workers are contributing to a deserving group of people and "giving back" in many different ways.
Infiniteach is an education technology company located in the West Loop. They develop products and services aimed at helping the autism community. Ned Williams is lead photo editor. He was diagnosed with autism as a young child and he loves his job.
"I just love that sort of photo editing, graphic design stuff. I've gotten pretty good at it and I just love doing it. It's one of the reasons I enjoy this job because it's sort of doing exactly the stuff I like to do," Williams says.
This 3-year-old company designs apps which assist in educating autistic individuals. Christopher Flint is one of the so-founders and is a recognized advocate in promoting employment for autistic young adults. In fact he was once Ned's counselor and first spotted his potential for Infiniteach.
"When he comes to work he is super focused on the job that he's doing. There are so many benefits to hiring an adult with autism and from Ned's side, I think he's in the community, he's working alongside other people. We're learning from him as well as he's learning from us how to become a contributing member of society," Flint says.
It really is a win-win for people who've dedicated their lives to this cause. Co-founder Katie Hench has a brother who is autistic.
"This is personal for us. Everyone on the team is very dedicated not only to the work but to the broader autistic community. We are always thinking of ways we can make the community more accessible to those with autism," she says.
As for Ned, the 20-year-old Winnetka man is proud of the product.
"The app that we're making is designed to help people with autism. So it means a lot to me that I'm helping others with the same disability," says Williams.
And he's also proud of what the job has done for him.
"I started out not being able to really manage my emotions. I had a hard time sticking with things and since then, I've come a long way. Since then, I can pretty well manage my emotions. I've been able to be more independent. I feel like from where I started, it's a long way," he says.
Ned says he is now thinking of perhaps becoming a graphic designer. He knows he wants to do something with creative technology and thanks to the company he's working for now, that's a real possibility.
For more info on Infiniteach, visit www.infiniteach.com
Man with autism finds rewarding career with West Loop tech company