John is nonverbal and uses facilitated speech communication. In order to start his business John took the online course and test to obtain his food handlers card and his home has been licensed by the State of Arizona for food service production. Jane Dalen said about her son, "I know he's intelligent. Just because he can't speak and he might pinch and grab because he was frustrated, I just knew someday he would break through (As quoted in CBS5 Arizona, November 23, 2014)." John Dalen's current business enterprise reflects how far he has come in living and thriving with autism.
The following is a video news story on John Dalen and his business ventures with "Essential Energy Bars".
CBS 5 - KPHO
Education: John Dalen graduated from Greenway High School in Phoenix in 2011. In order to help him with his business, John Dalen took a marketing courses at Paradise Valley Community College in the summer of 2014. This semester he is taking a class on "How to Own and Operate a Small Business". The Rising Entrepreneur Program at Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center also provided help for John to get his business started.
Christian Faith: John Dalen is a Christian and his faith has given him much hope as he has grown up with autism into the adult he is today. John considers his business as a way for him to be a "Baker for God", and it gives him the opportunity to pray over diverse people who will have the blessing to enjoy his energy bars. Jane Dalen reflected on the roots of her son's spiritual life from it's beginnings to how it is lived out today in the following letter to Autism Light.
John became a Christian and accepted Jesus as His Savior when he was 8 yrs old. I did not know it till we were able to learn facilitated communication when he was about 13. He was in a Bible class at a local Bible church where the message was presented and he wrote and told me he accepted Jesus then. He loves to attend church and worship time is his favorite. Even though he cannot sing, he will move in rhythm, try to sing, jump at times during his favorite songs and has that relentless joy that only comes from having faith.
He knows the power of prayer and loves to pray for people. People at church will say how much joy they get from hearing and seeing John worship. And he sits still during the sermon and takes it all in.
We read from the Bible daily, he prays for people and he does community outreaches to visit people in an assisted living facility, raises money for AZ Hope and a Future by doing their walk, he monthly gives to one of our pastors involved in Reach Global Africa, 10% of his business goes to a prophetic ministry. These are just some of the ways he expresses his faith and hope (Jane Dalen).Joni Eareckson Tada: Joni Eareckson Tada, a paraplegic who has had a Christian ministry to the disabled community since 1979 called Joni and Friends, is a friend of John Dalen. John sent Joni a gift of his bars to try along with a note saying, "Joni, I pray before making each batch of bars, that those who enjoy them will be nourished by God in a special way (Joni and Friends Blog, November 3, 2014)."
About the Energy Bars: John Dalen's business product is called "Essential Energy Bars". "Their energy bars are gluten free, low in unhealthy fats and sugars and tied up nicely in an eco-friendly recycled packaging (Adam Longo, CBS5 Arizona, November 23, 2014)."
Availability: John Dalen's "Essential Energy Bars" are currently available at Beneficial Beans Cafe in Scottsdale Civic Center Library and the Union 32 in Phoenix. Because of Arizona licensing regulations for the type of food business John has, his bars can only be sold to people in the State of Arizona. If you are an Arizona resident with an interest in ordering some of these energy bars or you wish to dialogue about John's autism life and business, email John and Jane Dalen at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Special thanks to John Dalen for shining a light for autism through his example as a man of faith and a business entrepreneur. John's story of success shows the potential that exists within people with autism to make a difference in their work and faith and it is also a tribute to the important role that an autism mother has in supporting her sons dreams. John makes a point of praying over his product as part of his business practice as a Christian. Likewise John is in our prayers and we wish John all the best in his future endeavors as he continues to build and grow his business. John Dalen is truly a blessing to the autism community.
You can search the label Christian at Autism Light and learn about others whose Christian faith helps them in the world of autism.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.
Photo: The photo in this post was used with permission of John Dalen.