Local Business Offers Internships to Those with Autism

Jon Liniak is no ordinary intern

ICare4Autism consistently strives to help by working on an intensive global workforce program in collaboration with other countries and we’d like to spotlight another company in the United States doing similar work.

Jon Liniak is no ordinary intern at Spagnvola chocolate shop in Gaithersburg. He has autism, and lacking in social skills. However, interning has already given him skills he needs to move confidently through the workforce.

“Seeing the same people, it’s a very consistent staff, and being able to make those social connections and being able to reach out and learn that aspect too is very, very important to him and very meaningful,” the boy’s father, Tom Liniak, said.

Although internships directed at those with autism are relatively few, they are needed more than ever. Autism can cost up to $3.2 million in care over a lifetime, and the unemployment rate among Americans with disabilities is much higher than the national average.

“These individuals – all they’re looking for is an opportunity. And when you give them an opportunity, they’ll surprise you,” owner Eric Reid said.

The internship as proved mutually beneficial to Jon and owner Eric Reid. Jon has learned much from his internship so far, and wishes to one day work at Spagnvola. Reid looks to continue and expand his internship program to prepare more and more disabled people for careers in the future. With the unemployment rate for January 2012 set at 8.7% for those without disabilities compared to 12.9% for those with disabilities, it’s internships like these that are critical in helping those with autism find lasting jobs and build skills (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data, Table A-6).


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