Autistic man sets up his own furniture assembly business ‘Made by Brad’

hammerEdmonton, Canada – Brad Fremmerlid, 24, who is severely autistic set up his own furniture assembly business, Made by Brad.

Brad does not read and is non verbal. However he can follow the most complex diagrams, blueprints and pictorial instructions.

Mark Fremmerlid, Brad’s father who is an air ambulance pilot and launched the business with Brad is reported in thestar.com as saying:

“We just want him to have something meaningful to do. It’s just started, but it seems to be so good for him to go to someone’s place and have a problem to solve,”

Made by Brad has had eight clients. Mark books the appointments through the company’s website. Brad is driven to jobs by a support worker and assists with any questions that a client may have.

Elzbeita Broz hired Brad to build an “Ultimate Chef’s Kitchen” for her two young boys that she bought from HomeSense.

She told thestar.com that the wooden play kitchen had been sitting in a box in the family’s hallway for about three weeks and that after reading an article in the local newspaper about Brad’s new business she called to make an appointment.

She told thestar.com

“When we opened the box this morning before Brad came and I saw how many small pieces there were, I was a little bit afraid it would be too challenging for him.”

But then adds that Brad had no trouble with it and was amazing.

Mark tells of how ten years ago they were in crisis. He recounts how Brad used to punch holes in the drywall and smash windows when he was not occupied.

‘After a rocky transition into group home care at age 15 that included a heavily sedated week in hospital, Brad entered a special school program where he began to thrive, Mark said. There was another roadblock when the teen turned 20 and could no longer attend school.’

The family were then able to convince provincial funding officials to admit him to a day program.
However in the day program support workers struggled to come up with challenging things for Brad to do. That is when Mark came up with the assembly business idea as it seemed like a natural solution.

“The best therapy seems to be: Give him something different to do.”

Carol Hacker disability services director for JVS Toronto, told thestar.com

“A lot of credit goes to the family for recognizing what Brad’s strengths were and then building on that,”

She then adds:

“This is also about inclusion and community integration and a sense of acceptance.”

Mark Fremmerlid hopes that his son’s story will be an inspiration to other families with autistic children.

“It takes a huge amount of teamwork, effort and help to pull it off, but it ends up costing less and enhances everybody’s life.”

The full article by Laurie Monsebraaten on thestar.com website can be found here