Healthy Living

A Canadian Bookstore Is Run Entirely by People with Autism

The impact on the employees

The bookstore has allowed many of its employees to come out of their shells. The head of the board of directors is Shawn Nowlan, who is the mother of one of the store employees. She says that the bookstore gives these budding young minds motivation to get out of bed and get dressed each morning. “Everybody needs a purpose in life, everybody has to get up and do something,” she said. Her own daughter, Kelsey has been working at ARM Book Nook since the beginning of this year. 

The employees love working at the store.

Nowlan saw her own daughter came out of her shell. Previously quiet and painfully shy, Kelsey is now outgoing and confident in her work at the store. She feels a sense of duty when talking about the tasks that she does to help people find books, and the process they take when they don’t have something the customers want. With a passion for reading herself, Kelsey says she loves working at the bookstore. 

Kelsey has learned a lot about how to cope with communication challenges associated with autism. She has learned how to pick up on social cues that she previously ignored. She now is friendly, confident, and outgoing. “She’s not even the same girl anymore,” Nowlan said.

Shayla Matchett Simon is another employee at the store. She says that the bookstore has given her opportunities that she couldn’t have found anywhere else. Before ARM Book Nook, Shayla says she was a quiet and nervous person who almost never spoke. After working for two years at the store’s program, she has been coming out of her shell just like the rest of the staff.