THE JOB: As parents of an Autistic son, my wife and I have dreams for Dustin Sweeney and his friends. Dustin has always been very task oriented, and the big question is - How can we apply Dustin's abilities to a work setting as he transitions out of school?
Video #1: Today, Dustin Sweeney is a Professional Dog Biscuit Baker at Invictus Enterprises, and he is getting paid for his work!! Invictus empowers a heretofore untapped work force, and the Team @ Invictus is seizing the day. This video shows what autistic individuals can do in a work setting, and it proves that having a purpose in life creates happiness for the bakers and their parents:
Video #2: While the first video offers a feel-good story about the bakery -- we need sales!! The scrumptious artisan dog biscuits are flying 'off the shelves' at the Invictus Online Store, and 'Oscar the Salesman' is selling "NoBones About It" dog biscuits on dog-shop to dog-shop sales calls around New York City:
The "new economy" of Invictus is thriving, and they found supply needed to catch up to demand. To replenish inventory to meet this increased dog biscuit demand, Invictus held a special baking session over Spring Break 2018 in a small industrial kitchen in Manhattan. Here the team was under a deadline and they responded beautifully:
THE COMMUNITY - Invictus has created the "special sauce" that is very hard to articulate in a Blog post. I often say that "Surfers Healing is my business model" , offering 1-3 day surf clinics for Autistic surfers. Everyone, almost everyone, loves the beach, so that is arguably an easy setting to attract and bring people together to create a community around surf, sand, sun, and fun. But how do you create a community in the "real world" of work? At Invictus, parents, workers, staff, and friends all gather to "bake the biscuits" for 3 hour sessions. In today's world, three hours straight of focusing on one thing is a long time. For the Autistic population, three hours is a REALLY long time. Creating a work-based community may inherently be more challenging to create than one based on surfing...but Invictus is off to a great start:
THE PRODUCT - With absolute conviction, I can say that the "No Bones About It" dog biscuits are a great product! Don't buy them to be supportive of Dustin (but thank-you for the support), buy them because they are awesome and your doggies will love them!!
QUESTIONS - Some questions that are now being raised about Invictus include:
- How far can Invictus take this?
- How do we turn this into meaningful long-term employment?
- What will "Inclusion" and "Integration" look like for the Invictus workforce as they leverage their work readiness and learned job skills and integrate into existing business organizations?
- How will paychecks co-exist with SD budgets?
My view is that these are all great questions to have in Dustin Sweeney's life. Dustin has always brought "purpose" to our family, but now I am witnessing and excited about his ability to be genuinely purposeful in his own life. The future looks brighter and the vision keeps growing stronger with every baking session at Invictus: