The Jakarta Post
There will always be more than one way to see everything; for Tim Wilcox, autism is merely part of an individual’s personality and “it is up to us as society to see it.”
Wilcox, a speech and language therapist at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), has just established an organization called Palletable, in which he collaborates with four students from Candradimuka Special Needs School—Fajar, Hilmi, Ivan and Agra—to run a sandwich store under the same name.
The students, who belong in the category of 16 to 20-year-old individuals with autism, were asked to prepare sandwiches and run the store by themselves. This activity is in line with Palletable’s goal, which Tim said is aimed “to give autistic individuals transferable and employable skills, which the students can learn and then use to support themselves in finding a job in the future.”
Following a debut at Maker Fair by JIS in May, Palletable currently holds the operation at the Finders Fair in Cilandak Town Square in South Jakarta every other week. “The major focus is to develop interdependence,” Wilcox told The Jakarta Post via email correspondence.
Wilcox explained that contrary to serving pre-made foods, preparing sandwiches actually requires a lot of information to be processed. By taking orders, preparing the food and taking payments from customers, the students are expected “to feel a sense of ownership” and to be in control of what they do. They are also given payment generated from the sales in order to teach them the concept of gaining and managing salaries.
The project is created to show the world the different side of autism. “Palletable is trying to break down people’s perceptions of autism as a ‘disability’ and promote what autistic people ‘can do’, which is, frankly, a lot!” said Wilcox.
He stressed that if the world wanted to, it could see the positive aspects possessed by individuals with autism, such as honesty, reliability, enjoyment of routine and repetition. “These are character traits that can actually be used in a very constructive way and can have a hugely positive contribution to society in many ways,” he added.
In the future, Palletable aims to be a self-sustaining business that is sensitive to the strengths of each individual. (kes)
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