A loving dad started a business to help his son with autism and empower others like him.

"I never expected how important what we were doing was — beyond us."

Here's a pretty jarring stat: Up to 90% of adults with autism are either unemployed or underemployed.

Being on the autism spectrum shouldn’t equate to being unemployable, and certainly individuals like actor Mickey Rowe and professor, best-selling author, and livestock consultant Temple Grandin have spoken about successfully finding a place in the career world. But this inclusivity takes a lot of educating of others about the unique way their brains work. What if we created a more supportive environment in which individuals with autism could thrive?

Luckily, one loving father discovered a simple idea to address this issue and empower not only his son, but other adults with autism. And it's pretty awesome.


When you pull into Rising Tide Car Wash, you might notice two things: Most of the employees have autism, and they are busier than ever. A Starbucks original series.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, September 19, 2016

John D'Eri has always wanted what's best for his son, Andrew.

He didn't start out with a full understanding of the intricacies of Andrew's autism, though. Initially, he found the disorder confusing and even hoped Andrew would eventually outgrow it or that someone would find a miracle cure.

Then, as Andrew got older, John had an eye-opening revelation.

"I started to realize that Andrew is who Andrew is. And I started to look at Andrew not as a 15-year-old. I looked at him as a 40-year-old. And that really started to change my whole thought pattern. He's not gonna be independent unless I can help him to be so."

Naturally, the next question on John's mind was, "Well, what can Andrew do?"

All images via Starbucks.

Inspiration struck John one fine day at a car wash.

After brainstorming a few business ideas, John found himself intrigued by the busy back-and-forth going on as he waited for his car to get cleaned at a car wash.

All of a sudden, John had a lightbulb moment. He remembers thinking, "Andrew can do this back-end process, without a doubt."

Soon after, the plan for Rising Tide Car Wash was put in motion.

With the help of his other son, Tom, John made the dream a reality and formed a team of passionate individuals who wanted to be a part of something special.

Today, business is booming  — because the employees are thriving.

Rising Tide places great importance on maximizing the potential of each and every person on their staff. No doubt the move has paid off in spades.

"What I like about Rising Tide is that they help me [with] how to stay professional, how to talk to customers. I have friends here now that care about me, that care about reaching my goals," said employee Sean Gervil. "Actions speak louder than words. You let your actions show that you want the job. I was just surprised. I can't believe I have a job now at Rising Tide."

Rising Tide is now averaging 17,000 cars a month and is on its way to opening a second location. Talk about a success!

This is the kind of forward thinking that can make a real difference in the community.

John said, "I never expected how important what we were doing was — beyond us."

When we recognize what others are capable of and do what we can to bring out the very best in them, truly amazing things can happen. Here's to more Rising Tide locations and more game-changing ideas!

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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