In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Brad spins. He spins and he builds things.
Video courtesy of YouTube
Brad Fremmerlid has severe autism, and is unable to speak or read. But Brad is able to understand complex diagrams, and his home is filled with his model airplanes, cars, and Lego creations. These are not simple creations, but rather elaborate designs that require immense patience and skill.
Brad's dad Mark makes sure to push Brad to be the best he possibly can be. This comes with the start of Brad's own business, Made By Brad.
Made By Brad takes Brad's love for diagrams, and building from diagrams, and translates this to a work opportunity. For a small fee, Brad will come to your house and build your Ikea furniture.
For ten to twenty dollars, Made By Brad gives Brad an opportunity to utilize his skills, be active in the Edmonton community, and feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with a job well-done. Brad has made some repeat customers that are more than satisfied by the quality of his work and also enjoy helping Brad push his limits. It puts Brad out in the community and builds a conversation around autism where there might not be one.
Brad Fremmerlid, photo courtesy the Made By Brad Facebook page.
One client of Brad's asked him to build an "Ultimate Chef's Kitchen" that she purchased for her children. Brad accomplished the task in three hours after only looking at the diagram for a few minutes. When he was done, he was so satisfied with his work, he almost did a happy dance.
Brad communicates through rudimentary hand signs, but is accompanied by a support worker to his jobs that is able to answer any questions or concerns a client may have.
Those with developmental disabilities often face little options for meaningful activities as they get older, especially when they age-out of schooling. Opportunities in the workplace may be limited or impossible, and families can be pressed to find services that appropriately occupy and challenge the mind. For Brad, the business of assembling furniture provides a way for him to address different mental challenges while going to new places and meeting new people- extremely meaningful activities.