Who doesn’t enjoy rewarding their beloved pup with a tasty treat every now and again? The folks at Invictus Enterprises are creating delicious biscuits for dogs, but they aren’t any old local New York City business. All of the dog treats they sell are made by individuals on the autism spectrum.
Invictus Enterprises is a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to serving the autism community by providing job education and training to individuals on the spectrum, with the hope of opening them up to employment opportunities.
Alison Berkley and Molly Sebastian are co-founders of the organization, which blossomed from years of passionate advocacy for those on the autism spectrum and others with special needs. Berkeley herself studied psychology, teaching, and then had nearly two decades of experience in special education.
Their work is especially poignant and necessary considering the high unemployment rates of adults on the spectrum. According to the AJ Drexel Autism Institute, young adults with autism in their early 20s had lower rates of employment than those with other disabilities, including learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities.
The organization seeks to combat these unemployment trends as well as the stereotypes that people on the spectrum can’t succeed in the workplace. Berkeley explains on their website that the organization “presumes competence” and that the lack of spoken language does not mean they have nothing to contribute. Their compassion and knowledge are evident through their success in fostering a safe environment that takes special care to be accommodating of the particular characteristics associated with autism, such as sensory sensitivities.
Invictus Enterprises was even recognized by Microsoft. After leaving a wish in Microsoft’s wish box, they were provided with Microsoft Surface laptops. Berkeley describes the role the Surface laptops play in a video on their website, explaining that they use the communication and digital software, which aids them in the process of making the biscuits and allows them to “become productive citizens.”