Editorial: Sam’s Café should inspire other businesses to hire employees with autism

March 9, 2017

Sam’s Canterbury Café, located just a block north of campus, opened early last month to replace Chocolatea. Sam’s serves breakfast and lunch like any café, but it’s mission is what sets it apart.

The owners of Sam’s Café started the business to provide an opportunity for their son, who has autism, and others like him to work independently. The café gives adults on the autism spectrum a chance to be baristas, cashiers, line cooks and greeters, integrating them into a team of employees.

Approximately one in 68 children in America now has autism, and many will soon enter adulthood. But there are few opportunities for adults with autism to join the workforce. Finding appropriate, fulfilling jobs alongside coworkers who are accepting and understanding is even more challenging.

As a result, many adults remain unemployed, when they can contribute to society in a meaningful way. According to the Autism Society of America, more than 3.5 million people in the United States have autism, but only 35 percent of young adults with autism are employed.

Traditional businesses have often overlooked what people with autism can offer. The Editorial Board believes that businesses should actively provide employment for people with autism. We commend Sam’s Café for providing these people with the opportunities that they desperately need and deserve.

By specifically focusing on employing those on the spectrum, Sam’s Café gives people with autism a chance to experience working in the real world while fostering a sense of inclusion. We commend the café for creating an inclusionary program, fostering fulfilling work while simultaneously reducing the stigma surrounding autism.

The Editorial Board hopes that Sam’s Café will set an example for other businesses in Baltimore to provide employment for those on the autism spectrum. We encourage students to visit and patronize the café and learn more about the different, yet equally valuable lives of those with autism.

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