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Presume Competence

Foundational to everything we do at JoyDew is our approach of presuming competence.

To understand the magnitude of the impact, it is important to understand that autism is a life-long neurological condition characterized by neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior that impacts people very differently, which is why people with autism are referred to as neurodiverse. Very little is known about its causes and there is no "cure". Autism is diagnosed on a spectrum and people with autism can experience a range of difficulty with communication (~50-60% are non-speaking and another 20% have limited speaking capabilities), different body language and other differences that precipitate an unwarranted stigma.

These challenges make it very difficult to work in a "neurotypical environment", and impact independence and often feelings of self-worth. Further exacerbating the issue, many vital programs and support services also end at age 21, a phenomenon known as the "21 Cliff". The result is that approximately one in 45 adults in the United States has an autism diagnosis , and only 4% of autistic adults are employed , the majority in low-wage, service-worker jobs . Non-speaking autistic people are the least likely to find work.

Society largely "presumes no competence" in autistic individuals. However, there are many innate interests, capabilities, and special skills or "superpowers" that people with autism possess, such as strong visual acuity, outstanding memory, enhanced logical or numerical thinking, hyperfocus, ability to recognize patterns, and ability to self-learn at exceptional speed, to name a few. Frequently they also have highly valued characteristics such as persistence, detail orientation, loyalty, appreciation of the job, and honesty.

With its disruptive Autism 3.0 model, JoyDew takes a "presume competence" approach to autism and focuses on an individual's unique strengths, rather than their limitations as compared to neurotypical individuals. This simple idea changes everything. Because members are smart, and they believe we know that, they feel safe and are willing to try their hand at challenging work. With this confidence and an autism-friendly environment where they have the support they need, they are able to succeed at levels many never thought possible.