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Autistic man on path to become an organic farmer

#RespectTheAbility Campaign: Spotlight on Farming

Autistic man on path to become an organic farmer

Neal Katz shows that hard work pays off with his fully grown crops, at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu (photo credit POSITIVE EXPOSURE)

Neal Katz shows that hard work pays off with his fully grown crops, at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu (photo credit POSITIVE EXPOSURE)

According to the CDC, one out of every 42 boys in America is on the Autism Spectrum (ASD). Additionally, almost half (46 percent) of these children identified with ASD had average or above average intellectual ability. These children are growing up at the same time that baby boomers are aging and thus there will be expanded opportunities in the workforce. Here’s a first person message from 20-year-old Neal Katz, who has started on his career path to become an organic famer in Malibu, CA.

“I work at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu every Thursday. I water trees, plants, and herbs in their organic garden. I pick ripe lemons, oranges, and olives. I use hay to insulate the trees in the winter. It makes me happy to work.

“I feel connected to God when I am working in nature. I see God’s work in the earth and want to feel it in my hands. When I am in the garden and working, I feel God’s call, and I answer him by doing the work he started. When God was creating the earth He created plants on the third day. I am continuing God’s work when working at JCA.

Neal Katz diving into his work at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu (photo credit POSITIVE EXPOSURE)

Neal Katz diving into his work at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu (photo credit POSITIVE EXPOSURE)

“Everyone says I am a simple guy and really, I am. I wish everyone was as simple as me. The world would be a much less complicated place if we all tried to do God’s work and not the work we convince ourselves we ought to do.

“When watering trees, I think about giving back to the earth what she gives to me and to the earth. Earth is like a giant circle.

“It’s a give and take, however, not enough people give.

“This year I challenge everyone to give more to earth’s giant circle and take less. Be more aligned with God’s vision and see how much you grow as a result.”

Under the hashtag #RespectTheAbility, POSTIVE EXPOSURE and RespectAbilityUSA hope to spread the word about how people with disabilities can be a new talent pool as the baby boom ages and there is a need for loyal, responsible and dedicated workers. #RespectTheAbility is a campaign that focuses on how hiring people with disabilities can make organizations stronger and more successful. The campaign highlights the benefits to employers that look beyond the disability and imagine the possibility when hiring talented employees with disabilities.

#RespectTheAbility Success Stories

Download our free toolkit, “Disability Employment First Planning Tool,” for more information.

 

Meet the Author

RespectAbility Staff
RespectAbility Staff

For more information, email info@RespectAbility.org.

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