ABLE: The Autism Brilliance Lab for Entrepreneurship

Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and their NEA Research Lab programming, Dr. Stern is the Executive Director and PI (Principal Investigator) of ABLE, the Autism Brilliance Lab for Entrepreneurship, a partnership between researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the non-profit, Islands of Brilliance (IOB). ABLE leverages creativity with technology, and 1-on-1 mentorship, towards confidence and community-building among neurodiverse populations.

We are examining how creativity in art and design serves as a vehicle for preparing populations on the spectrum for the workforce, and preparing neurotypical work environments for people living with autism. Our long-term goal is to become an international hub for studying, modeling, publishing, programming, developing and scaling models of creative innovation and entrepreneurship, onboarding, job placement, and universally-designed work environments, specifically for people living with autism across fields of art, design, and production.

What role might arts-based education, specifically training with design and technology, play in amplifying the employability – and beliefs about employability – of neurodiverse youth, in both arts and non-arts based sectors among a) neurodiverse youth; b) their parents/guardians; and c) employers?

What larger roles do arts and cultural assets play in promoting civic innovation and entrepreneurial efforts in and around neurodiverse communities?

The Team
Executive Director, Dr. Nathaniel Stern
Research Director, Dr Celeste Campos-Castillo
Director of Content, Mark Fairbanks
Director of Education, Margaret Fairbanks
Co-PI and Researcher, Jeana Holt
Co-PI and Researcher, Kate Siekman
Graduate Research Assistants, Mich Dillon, Autumn Horwath, Elise Atkinson

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