UPS store staffed by students with autism

A UPS store, which opened inside the LA Speech & Language Therapy Center in Culver City July 12, will be staffed by young adults with autism, with the aim of providing them with essential social and language skills.

Dr. Pamela Wiley, founder of the center, told KFI AM 640 radio that the job would give the kids the benefit of learning a range of skills that are transferable to other settings.

“‘Because it is a simulated workplace setting, we’re also able to work with them in terms of ‘what are some of the challenges you’re facing?’,” Wiley said.

The LA Speech & Language Therapy Center will provide the students with a curriculum tailored to their personal needs, with the goal of preparing them for meaningful employment. A new staff will run the store each year, and the students will receive a paycheck.

According to their website,, “The 440-square-foot lab will mimic a UPS store in both appearance and function. With job training materials provided by UPS and adapted by Dr. Wiley and her staff, students will learn a range of employment skills including customer service, packaging, merchandising, display and printing. Participants in the summer months will receive $10.50 an hour through a partnership with the City of Los Angeles Hire L.A. Youth Program.”

This is the first program of its kind in the country to be located inside a speech clinic, and it fits with the overall mission statement of the LA Speech & Language Therapy Center, which is to, “work with children and their families from early childhood through adulthood. We affirm that our range of programs and specialized support can have a dramatic impact on the quality of life and independence for children and adults with special needs. Our centers embrace all cultures; we believe that effective communication is a human right.”

Wiley’s work has had a significant impact on the lives of many people and she says on the website that, “I feel as passionate and excited about speech pathology today as I did more than three decades ago. We have great staff, families and community partners. It’s very gratifying.”