Autism and Entrepreneurship: A Look at the Rising Tide Car Wash
By admin April 2, 2019

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In 2008, The United Nations General Assembly unanimously decided that 2 April would be recognized as World Autism Awareness Day to acknowledge and advocate for the estimated one percent of the world’s population that has autism spectrum disorder – in the US it is estimated that around 1 in 59 people, over 3.5 million Americans, live with the disorder.  In fact, nearly 35 percent of young adults, aged 19-23, with autism have not had a job or entered postgraduate education since the completion of high school. The main problem that these young adults face is lack of jobs with growth opportunities, meaning that they are ultimately denied the chance to earn a living doing something that they love. In addition to this, the diversity of the autism spectrum can make navigating education and the workplace a challenge as what may be a good fit for one individual on the spectrum will not work for another.

However, entrepreneurship is increasingly becoming an option for adults with autism to harness their skills, especially as family-owned businesses are a driving force in the US economy. Mary Temple Grandin, author of “The Autistic Brain,” and a well-known advocate for people with autism, explains that many autistic people are extremely adept at running businesses if they are given the chance to develop skills around their interests. She stresses that it is not intellect that is the problem, but rather the ability to engage with the surrounding environment and manage social contacts. In fact, many people with autism excel in processing visual information, a skill that has been dubbed the ‘ASD Advantage’ by parents of children with the disorder, giving them the ability to deliver a service or create a product if they receive support with the administrative side of things.

A perfect example of this is The Rising Tide Car Wash, a business opened in 2013 by father-son duo John and Thomas D’Eri. They were inspired to start this business after seeing how Thomas’ younger brother Andrew, who is on the autism spectrum, struggled to find a job. They describe their business as an “ecosystem of opportunity for this untapped talent pool,” as in addition to running the car wash, they are working on collaborating with other businesses to increase employment and resources for people with autism. Now, six years later, the Rising Tide Car Wash is one of the largest employers of people with autism in the US, having approximately 90 employees. This success has ultimately lead to the launching of a Rising Tide training organization, known as Rising Tide U, which sees the D’Eris assist other families in starting their own businesses to help build sustainable futures for their loved ones who have autism. Thomas D’Eri has since been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list for his dedication to inspiring communities to change their perception of the capabilities of young adults with autism. D’Eri himself sums his work up the best, noting that: “empowering individuals with autism is a critical issue in today’s world. Autism is a valuable diversity, as opposed to a disability that requires sympathy – and it’s important for communities to understand all that individuals with autism have to offer.”


For More Information:

Autism Society: Facts and Statistics

Entrepreneurship Is How Families Are Creating Meaningful Jobs for Their Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

For Some with Autism, Entrepreneurship Is the Answer

Rising Tide Car Wash

Rising Tide Car Wash Co-Founder Named to Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs List

UN: World Autism Awareness Day 2019

Thanks for sharing !

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