New Brunswick bookstore run by staff of people with autism

New Brunswick bookstore run by staff of people with autism
WATCH ABOVE: A used bookstore in Miramichi is transforming the lives of young adults with autism. Global’s Shelley Steeves tells us more.

The story that’s playing out at a used book store in Miramichi has the makings of a best seller.

Autism Miramichi’s used bookstore “ARM Book Nook” was launched by the organization three years ago as a means of giving young adults with autism a chance to work, according to Autism Resource Miramichi’s head of the board of directors, Shawn Nowlan.

“They open, they close, they have to greet people when they come in,” she explained.

Almost all of the staff at the store are on the autism spectrum.

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Just like the books they sell, each staff member has a unique story.

Shayla Matchett Simon was enrolled in the work program for two years and said she barely spoke before working at the store.

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“I was nervous. I was a quiet type of person who rarely every talked to people,” Matchett Simon said.

She’s since come out of her shell, along with the rest of the staff.

“Everybody needs a purpose in life, everybody has to get up and do something,” said Nowlan, whose daughter Kelsey started working at the store in January of this year.

“She’s not even the same girl anymore.”

WATCH: Building relationships and making friends can be especially challenging for someone with autism. Su-Ling Goh reports on a program aimed at helping young adults with the disorder who struggle with social skills.

Program aims to help people with autism who struggle with social skills
Program aims to help people with autism who struggle with social skills

The store that opened three years ago has opened up a whole new world to these young adults on the autism spectrum, according to Nowlan.

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Once shy and unable to pick up on social cues, she said her daughter is now outgoing with a personality that shines, along with her confidence.

“I love working here” said Kelsey, who is an avid reader herself. “If they are looking for a certain book and it is not here we have a request form and we write it out for them.”

Nowlan said the entire community has embraced to bookstore, including loyal customer Tina Manderson.

“I think it is wonderful. I think it is great for them, they learn and then they can go out to other places and work.”

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In the last three years, many of the young adults who have worked here have moved on other jobs giving the young adults a chance to show the entire community that they have a lot to offer.

“They are getting up, they are showering, they are getting dressed, they are going to work and meeting other people.”