Correction: SmallBiz-Autistic Owners story

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 15, 2014 at 2:32 pm •  Published: August 15, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — In a story Aug. 13 about business owners with autism, The Associated Press reported erroneously the name and abbreviation of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, or SARRC.

The story also had the incorrect Internet address for the center. It is www.autismcenter.org

A corrected version of the story is below:

Entrepreneurship the answer for some with autism

People with autism find purpose, income and joy by starting their own small businesses

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG

AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — When Matt Cottle asked his boss to let him work in the supermarket's bakery, she told him he'd never do anything more than collect grocery carts.

After six years of bagging groceries and pushing carts, Cottle wanted more. He had already learned how to do some baking.

Cottle is autistic. And today he's an entrepreneur, the owner of Stuttering King Bakery, turning out batches of cookies, brownies and scones for cafes and businesses and groups that need catering.

"I was like, OK, I am destined to do something greater than that," Cottle says in the kitchen of his family's Arizona, home, where he spends hours each day filling orders. He generates $1,200 monthly. He named the business for Britain's King George VI, whose struggles to speak were the subject of the film "The King's Speech."

Cottle is one of a few known small business owners with autism, a brain disorder that affects a person's ability to comprehend, communicate and interact socially. There are varying degrees of autism, but even autistic people with the greatest capabilities can find it impossible to get a job because they take longer to read or process information, or because they struggle to hold conversations. One in 68 people have some form of autism, according to government figures.

There is a growing movement to help autistic adults find jobs, but for Cottle and his family, the answer was a business of his own.

Cottle had taken training to do search and rescue operations. And he tried working in a bakery. Both times, he encountered people who didn't understand him, and who ended up yelling at and insulting him, his mother, Peg Cottle, says. He wanted to enroll in a culinary school, but an administrator gently told him and his parents it wouldn't work out. Four years ago, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, or SARRC, connected Cottle with a pastry chef who mentored him. In August 2012, he unexpectedly got an order from a cafe operated by Phoenix-based SARRC. At that point, Cottle told his parents he was starting his own baking business.

"I'm happy as an angel," he says.

CHANGING ATTITUDES

Many autistic people can run businesses if they're given the chance to discover something they like and develop skills around their interests, says Temple Grandin, one of the best-known advocates for people with autism.

"If you get them exposed to something, they can get a career," says Grandin, author of "The Autistic Brain."

Grandin, who has autism, didn't speak until she was four years old. In her teens, she was bullied by classmates who made fun of the way she spoke — she repeated the same phrases over and over.

"They called me 'tape recorder.'" she says.

In her teens, Grandin was exposed to horses at a boarding school and cattle on her aunt's ranch, and she began working with farm animals. She eventually created a business designing equipment for handling livestock.

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