Those diagnosed with autism face numerous social challenges, and one of the major ones is finding employment. One Florida father-and-son team has made it their business to help the disorder be seen as a professional asset instead of a setback.
John and Tom D’Eri co-founded the Rising Tide Car Wash to build a community and allow people with autism, like his son Andrew, a chance to earn a paycheck.
Autism is a developmental disorder that often hinders the ability to communicate and interact. Many of the symptoms include tendency toward repetitive behavior and hyper-attentiveness to detail. While that may make it difficult to hold some jobs, it’s actually ideal for a car-washing business. So much so that 80% of Rising Tide’s employees are on the autism spectrum.
“What we find in the autism community is that when someone turns 22 and ages out of the school system, there is very little meaningful activity,” Tom D’Eri told NationSwell. “In the autism community we call that, ‘falling off the cliff.'”
Rising Tide currently has 35 employees and is aiming for three locations by 2016, hoping to eventually host 150 workers.
It is important to remember that this is not a charity, but is a business with an altruistic mission that has the potential to keep growing and provide fair opportunities. It’s model could, and should, be replicated in other professions as well.