SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There's a new effort underway to create job opportunities for young adults with autism.
A group of assembly members at the State Capitol are working on a bill to help people with autism find employment. According to those lawmakers, only six percent of young adults with autism are employed in California.
The group of assembly members is hoping to break the stereotype that many autistic young adults and children face.
One organization in Roseville is slowly doing that. So far, it's employed more than 3,000 people with disabilities around the Sacramento region.
One young man, 26-year-old Ryan Edwards, has his first job, ever.
"I couldn't feel more blessed, to be honest," said Edwards, who has autism.
He couldn't land a job until he became involved with Pride Industries, an organization helping people with disabilities gain employment.
"I get to be able to interact with the residents and what not. It feels really comforting," he said.
Edwards has been working at an elderly care facility for a year, and most recently at Eskaton in Roseville.
"I don't know if I could ever have much more fun than this," he said.
"The ultimate goal is to give them the self-esteem, they need to be able to move onto other careers," said Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio.
Rubio is one of several lawmakers working to pass Assembly Bill 2840 which would kick up a three-year pilot program in Sacramento and L.A. counties to find jobs for people with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Rubio says she's also working with health policy advocates to draft a handbook that would guide employers on how to accommodate autistic employees.
"Sometimes they do need to have a little bit of patting, a little bit of accommodation, but once they start fitting into the culture of the employment, they do extremely well," said Julie Koon, a job coach at Pride Industries.
Grateful for an opportunity to make a living, Edwards has a message for the public: "It wasn't easy being able to live with autism, but because we have it doesn't mean we're not human."
Edwards hopes to save up to go to college and study zoology. As for the three-year pilot program being proposed, it would cost the state about $1.5 million.
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