Young NJ designer with Aspergers becomes PBS consultant
Anne-Marie Sullivan is doing God’s work. She is the CEO and founder of Spectrum Works Inc. which is a New Jersey based nonprofit that provides job training and life skills for young adults with autism. In 2011, Sullivan decided to do some thing about the growing population of people with autism and the difficulty they have in becoming employed. She developed a program to help them with social skills and marketable job skills, in some cases while also earning a salary.
Some people with autism have difficulty with what the business world calls “soft skills,” like the ability to interact without distractions and the ability to work in a stressful environment. Spectrum Works also helps with important technical skills like proper email, letter composition, data entry, and training on Adobe creative suite programs. They can also learn how to write a resume, cover letter and interview for a job.
Dennis Taylor, a young man with autism from Englewood, and one of Spectrum Works’ first students, became the Benefactor of all that Spectrum Works had to offer. At the suggestion of Ann-Marie Sullivan, he attended a conference where he was lucky enough to meet Christine Ferraro, one of the writers of a brand new PBS series called “Hero Elementary“.
According to a press release, Taylor played a key role in advising on the development of a character called “AJ Gadgets,” who is on the autism spectrum. Taylor was first brought on as a consultant just for AJ's autism traits, but now the character has basically become Taylor, with a lot of his characteristics including his outlook on life. According to the press release, Taylor says, “Had it not been for Ann-Marie and her commitment to helping me gain the skills and confidence I needed to be part of a project like this.”
Recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spectrum works announced its online learning program. Now, with their Remote Work and Learning Program, Participants have access to these important opportunities at a time when they need it more than ever. “New episodes of “Hero Elementary” for season one will be intermittently rolled out on PBS over the next months. For more I information about spectrum works, visit their website here.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.
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