Bookshop/cafe would give secure future for my autistic son

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We have spent an awful lot of time these past few weeks in various cafes dotted around Lancashire.

This has been when out shopping and while visiting museums and other family attractions. We usually find a ‘gluten free’ café that we have scouted out beforehand.

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan

I read an interesting article on the BBC Ouch blog website. This was about a mother in the Philippines who has set up the Puzzle Cafe for her autistic son to work in. The cafe is both run and owned by Jose, as well as his five other siblings.

The title of the blog, ‘The family who built a cafe just for their son’, I feel is a little misleading. Yes, the cafe was built for this young man to work in, with his siblings’ help, but it is also providing work opportunities for other young people who are on the spectrum and for some who have other disabilities.

More importantly, the cafe is helping to end the stigma surrounding disability and work. It is not showcased as an ‘autism’ cafe. In fact, many customers do not know the staff are autistic. It is just like any other cafe that you would find in Manilla, and this is the way it should be.

The overall goal is that Jose will be supported in his work by his family and will have long-term security. This really hit home for me. This family were thinking about their son’s future and have been proactive about it. It’s such a wonderful idea.

I would love to do the same and hire individuals on the spectrum to both run and work in a cafe, along with my son. I love reading, so the café would have to be a bookshop/café, but what a fantastic opportunity it would be.

It is a stark reality that the future of our young people on the spectrum is a bleak one when it comes to the world of work. Statistics by the National Autistic Society state that “only 15% of adults with autism in the UK are in full-time paid employment”.

It is hard to know what the future holds for my son, it is far too early to tell. All we can do is give him opportunities and hope that services and support will be there for him when he hits the age to enter the world of work.