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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