'It's about the life skills': Young adults with autism say jobs can be key to independence, confidence

As New Jersey marks Autism Awareness Month, one young woman is proving that autism won’t slow her down or keep her off the job.

News 12 Staff

Apr 22, 2021, 9:58 PM

Updated 1,129 days ago

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As New Jersey marks Autism Awareness Month, one young woman is proving that autism won’t slow her down or keep her off the job.
“I like being a professional employee, helping people and making money,” says Kira Bianchino.
Bianchino is not shy about how much she loves her job folding pizza boxes at Outta Hand Pizza in Westfield. It is just one of the four jobs that the 18-year-old Edison girl has.
“Getting a job makes me feel good too. It’s about life skills and it makes me feel different and like an adult like everyone else,” Bianchino says.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bianchino hasn’t been attending her school for adults with autism. So her jobs, which also include a bagel store, a nonprofit popcorn shop and her parents’ fitness studio, are key for her independence, development, self-confidence and health.
“I also say my motto is to be good, be nice, be happy,” she says. “It helps people a lot - being autistic - it helps a lot being happy.”
Bianchino’s parents say that they have noticed the change.
“We saw a difference immediately. She’s always a positive, active, vocal person. Just her taking on responsibility, knowing we aren’t lurking around in the background,” says mother Melissa Bianchino.
The owners of Outta Hand Pizza say that Bianchino helps them as much as they help her. She can fold as many as 100 pizza boxes in a two-hour shift. The community is also showing their support, often ordering just to get a special box that Bianchino folded.
It is also helping to promote autism awareness.
“It brings awareness that adults with autism are productive, can be high-functioning and it’s just a great way to bring that awareness,” says Bianchino’s father.
Bianchino says that her dream job would be to work at Disney World.
She is currently enrolled at Academy 360 in Livingston, a work-study school for young adults with autism. Her parents say that they hope to send her back in September and the conditions surrounding the pandemic improve.


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