As an independent graphic designer, I feel fortunate to have developed a unique partnership with Autistry Studios, a local organization that helps teens and adults with Autism, Asperger’s and other learning challenges develop skills for independence. It’s a cause close to my heart that has also made for a surprising and inspiring business relationship.
Autistry was a creation of necessity. Janet Lawson, CEO and Executive Director of Autistry, was troubled by the lack of services and opportunity for her autistic son, as he became a teenager and adult. Janet and her husband, Dan Swearingen, responded by creating a community that could address the need for work choices, special services, and living situations for people like their son.
I already knew Janet from the board of Dedication to Special Education (which I’ve served on since 2003), and Janet asked for my input early in the process of forming Autistry. In addition to doing some early pro bono work, Janet asked me to take on a very special project: helping her very talented student, Owen, publish the children’s books he had written. (You can purchase Owen’s books here.)
As I re-opened my graphic design business a couple of years ago, Janet honored me by asking me to partner with Autistry and work with some of their students.
I agreed to work with Autistry because I have a passion for their mission. They make a real difference for the students they serve, and it makes coming to work very special.
Since basing my office in Autistry Studios, I still work with Owen as he writes and illustrates more books. I also benefit from the administrative help of one of her students, who learns job skills that can help him become successfully independent. Janet has made me her graphic design professional for promoting the organization, and we are currently working on a fundraising event on October 28th.