Although Christopher Tidmarsh graduated from college with a degree in languages, environmental science and chemistry, he was in the same limbo as other autistic people. A post-college internship didn't work out because co-workers didn't make the accommodations he needed, like labeling drawers where he could find supplies, or communicating with him through emails rather than by talking. Job interviews were nearly impossible because he needs time to process the questions and come up with answers.
"People in the traditional work place don't know how to work with people with autism like me," Tidmarsh says.
The solution was starting Green Bridge Growers, a company that grows vegetables in water, a process called aquaponics. Tidmarsh has been building the business in South Bend, Indiana, with his mother, Janice Pilarski, the last two years. They came up with the idea for the business because it would allow him to use the knowledge he developed in college and internships with organic farmers.
While the company is still in its early stages, Tidmarsh is already thinking ahead to expand it beyond its current one greenhouse.
"Having my own business makes me feel as though I've accomplished something," he says.