8 Reasons To Get Your Startup Involved With Autism Awareness Month

By Ben Chutz on April 12th, 2016 / Comments

Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t. April is Autism Awareness Month, and we, Birdhouse, are doing something exciting and inspirational for it. We need your help with it, too. Yes, I know, another month, another condition, another color. But wait! It doesn’t have to be this way! This year, it’s different. It’s closer to home, for all of us. I’ll tell you how.

More so than ever, people are talking about the overlap between the startup community and the Autism community. Some big names, too, are getting into the mix. Microsoft has created a successful strategy for recruiting & empowering individuals with Autism to work with them as has SAP, Walgreens, and Freddie Mac. Eventually, we all may be in this group.

It’s no small task to design and implement a program like this, but there *are* small things you can do now that have real power and that positively affect real people. That’s essentially what every startup attempts to do, right? So we’re involving the entire startup community, Michigan & beyond, in our #Startups4AutismAwareness effort. So yes, that includes you!

The gist: wear blue, take a group pic, post it online. There are other odds & ends too, if you’re interested, like resources to share with your team, and visual content to share with your community. You can see who’s signed up to participate so far here. Maybe you recognize some of those names & want to join them?

Thinking about it? I hope so. Here are 8 great reasons to get involved with us this month:

1. It’s a fun, easy, meaningful, & engaging team activity.

Everyone coming to work in a blue shirt (or some type of blue garment) for a day is easy! And finding something to rally around is an effective way to bring a team together. Combining these qualities produces something fun & meaningful in the name of a movement that has a profound impact.

2. You’ll reach a new audience.

Showing support & respect for a community you may not interact with much, but one that we specialize in, is a great opportunity to get in front of new people who could benefit from what you provide. It’s a win-win.

3. You actually can make a difference.

Sounds like a platitude, but the fact is that most awareness campaigns struggle to break through their own community to reach a broader audience– the people who really need to hear the message. Blue is the official color of Autism Awareness Month, and by engaging startups outside the Autism community, this campaign is an incredible opportunity to break through that barrier.

4. Nearly everyone knows someone with Autism.

Maybe you do, too. A nephew, cousin, friend, child of a friend, a coworker, a neighbor. 2% of children in the United States. 3,500,000 Americans. The numbers are rising every year, and the disorder is vastly underfunded.

5. Autism is a spectrum.

Not a reason, really, but more of an educational moment here. Some individuals with Autism are severely affected & can’t even care for themselves. Others are gainfully employed professionals in various lines of work. Still, the majority of the adult Autism population is unemployed. Increasing awareness helps further efforts to provide better training & support for individuals with Autism in the workplace.

6. Awareness removes stigma & creates opportunity.

People are afraid of the unknown. People also like to help improve the world. Autism Awareness week– and any awareness effort, really– helps to do just that.

7. Neurodiversity is the next frontier.

Gender & racial diversity are now the norm. Including those whose brains function differently than “neurotypical” individuals is becoming increasingly important. Read this post on LinkedIn that highlights the inevitability, benefits, & future of neurodiversity in the workplace.

8. Startups lead the way forward.  

People look to startups for indications of what the world will look like tomorrow. We don’t sell products & services. We provide hope, optimism, conviction, opportunity, & promise. We identify problems, devise solutions, & help people live better lives. Advancing humanity is core to our missions, and Autism will only become a bigger part of our society as time goes on. Collectively, we can ensure that the Autism community is included, supported, & an equal part of our future.

Convinced to hop on board? I hope so. We need you! Sign up & get more info at: http://birdhousehq.com/autism-awareness-month 

About the Author

Ben Chutz

Ben Chutz is cofounder of Birdhouse Health, a health technology startup based in West Bloomfield, Michigan that builds caregiving and health tracking apps for condition communities. Ben cofounded Birdhouse with his wife, Dani Gillman, to provide better care for their daughter, who has Autism, and to empower families like theirs around the world. Find him on twitter at @benchutz.