The Short of It
Many people with autism, like Andrew D'Eri, 24, have a hard time finding a job. Employers tend to overlook capabilities and instead focus on the disability. Andrew's entrepreneur father and older brother, a recent business school graduate, had an idea: why not create their own solution instead of waiting for one to present itself. Why not open a business that mostly employs people with autism?
In 2013, the D'Eri family opened Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Fla. Andrew's brother, Tom D'Eri, 25, said: "We wanted to build ... an example big and bold and out there that other companies could go ahead and want to emulate." He said they also wanted to find a business that would educate the community about autism by putting the employees directly in front of customers.
Unemployment is high among the autistic community, nearly 90 percent, but not because they can't do the work. Tom D'Eri says people with autism are really good at structured tasks, following processes and paying attention to details, which are all important skills that make valuable employees.
Rising Tide Car Wash currently employs 35 autistic men and women. Tom D'Eri says working at the car wash has helped build confidence in all of the employees. It was Andrew's first job, and although he didn't like it at first, it's had a positive influence on his behavior. Andrew had issues with empathy and trying new things in the past, but now he's become more social and a lot more empathetic than he ever was before.
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