Employing Those With Intellectual Disabilities

By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Twenty-five-year-old Thomas Britton can’t speak very much; but he can grate 50 pounds of potatoes in half an hour. Frank Stephens loves to speak and tells people what’s special on the buffet. Both are intellectually disabled and work at Wildflour in Chantilly, Virginia.

Two thirds of the 50 employees in the nonprofit bakery and catering business have such disabilities and others are trained to work in one of the 10 businesses at other locations. They range in age from 21-58, work from 8:30am-2pm, make $7.25 an hour, have sick leave, vacation days and profit-sharing.

Some workers have been there since the 1990’s and rotate tasks.

Manager Amanda Ott says telling them how good they are every day is important. Stephen’s mom says he cooks at home and has converted her to healthy foods.

The Washington Post reports that 23% of those with cognitive disabilities are employed, and Wildflour is a wonderful model for others.

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