Florida thrift shop helps increase autism awareness

American Hero

(NewsNation) — A thrift store in Tampa, Florida, is selling secondhand goods to fund vocational training, therapy and workshops to help those living with autism.

Back in 2015, Jennifer and Scott Band opened the Autism Awareness Shop with two goals in mind: increase awareness and acceptance for people with autism and establish employment for their son, who was diagnosed with autism in 1999.

The shop’s general manager Tyler Russo joined “Morning in America” to offer a closer look at the shop that helps adults living with autism find employment.

“We currently provide a slew of services for adults on the autism spectrum. The best way that we help them succeed is we provide occupational therapy, speech therapy, behavior therapy, as well as the main component, which is the job training,” Russo said.

Russo explained that the thrift shop allows one-on-one on-site training that a lot of other organizations don’t necessarily provide.

The school system is very limited on programs when it comes to a person’s age, Russo said. “There are several adult day training programs throughout the country. The only difference is a lot of the focus isn’t on that vocational training where they can actually have the real-life experience here.”

“And actually in Florida, we have a division called vocational rehabilitation, which we are providers of, which just allows us to help with placement for jobs. And within our programs, we can actually provide that training in order to help them integrate into the community,” Russo said.

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