Innovative thinking answers the needs of adults with autism

Innovative thinking answers the needs of adults with autism

Autism affects tens of millions worldwide. For the third annual UBS Global Autism Innovation Roundtable, UBS brought together families and activists passionate about autism ­- with  a focus on building better futures. The event was held at The Els Center for Excellence, founded by Ernie and Liezl Els.

"Our annual UBS Global Autism Innovation Roundtable connects experts, entrepreneurs and families who are interested in making a difference," said Bill Sutton, Head of Client Philanthropy Advisory at UBS Wealth Management Americas. "We've worked with clients around the world to build a community where people can share experiences and collaborate. We're always expanding the resources available to clients on this and other topics."

Highlights from the Autism Innovation Roundtable

"For a long time the focus of autism advocacy was on kids," said Angela Geiger, CEO and President of research, support, and advocacy group Autism Speaks. "Support in the school system has come a long way. But the support can fall off a cliff after a child leaves school if proper planning isn't in place. While more remains to be done for children, it's clear that we need to look at support for individuals transitioning into adulthood."

Scott Badesch, President and CEO of the Autism Society, the largest grassroots autism support network in the US, said that it's important to empower autistic individuals. "Improving adult services is important but we also advocate seeing adult services as a way to have that individual reach life stage goals for the highest quality of life possible," said Badesch.

New UBS pilot program supports employment opportunities for autistic adults

At the close of the roundtable, UBS announced the launch of a new pilot program that aims to provide employment opportunities to adults with autism. The program, called the "Nashville Model" was formed in collaboration with The Precisionists, an organization that creates jobs for individuals across a broad range of disabilities. Individuals employed by the program will carry out project-based work for UBS on a contract basis.

"When properly assessed, trained and employed, people with autism are extremely high performing employees in critical and challenging jobs such as email analysis, software testing and data analytics," said Ernie Dianastasis, CEO of The Precisionists. "When you consider that the vast majority of adults with autism in the country are either unemployed or underemployed, with estimates ranging to as high as 90%*, we are making a true difference in engaging a significant untapped, high-performing labor force."

Key takeaways

  • Innovative thinking is creating a better future for autistic adults, with private-public partnerships a critical part of the success.
  • More philanthropic efforts are needed to help families affected by autism today.
  • No matter what kind of impact you want to have, ensure your giving strategy is built into your financial plan and consistent with your overall financial goals.
  • Are you making the most of your giving? Talk with your UBS Financial Advisor.

Understanding drives engagement

"Our biggest goal is to increase understanding at all levels on the spectrum, and to offer support for families," said Sutton. "Events such as the UBS Global Autism Innovation Roundtable, held in partnership with Ernie and Liezl Els and Billy and Jennifer Frist, drive more conversation and interest in making a difference for families affected by autism. And through our new pilot program, UBS is strengthening our commitment to workplace inclusion and to creating career opportunities for an often underutilized talent pool."


Talk with your UBS Financial Advisor if you're concerned about providing for the special needs of a loved one living with autism. By planning ahead, you can find information about programs and support that can help your loved one live as independently as possible in the future.

How can you make a difference in giving to causes that matter to you? Together we can find an answer. Connect with your UBS Financial Advisor or find one.