Autism at Work: Meet Sam the Barista

Autism in the workplace has been an ongoing topic for families and socially responsible organizations. There are many individuals with ASD that are completely competent and strive for greatness in industries all over the world. However, due to the lack of knowledge and awareness about Autism, organizations fail to make a wide variety of job opportunities available to them. This results in a high percentage of individuals with ASD being unemployed or underemployed.

A few years ago, Sam the Barista (Sam Forbes), surfaced through a viral video and is a great example of Autism in the workplace. The then 17 year old was shown dancing while successfully fulfilling an order for a customer. He later stated on Ellen that he dances in order to focus on the task at hand.

Sam and his family were told that he would be unemployable, however, Starbucks manager, Chris, gave the young man a chance and did not regret it, stating that Sam has made him a better person overall.

This story was a very heartfelt experience for not only Sam, but the people around him. One bold and courageous move by a Starbucks manager to hire an individual with ASD became recognized worldwide and revealed that Autism in the workplace can be a great thing, along with the fact that everybody deserves an opportunity. The viral video had a global reach, now sitting at over 1.4 million views. This resulted in Sam and Chris being invited to the Ellen show and being rewarded with a trip to Japan and the Toronto Raptors (now the 2019 NBA Champions!!) offering him Raptors merchandise, and a VIP trip to watch the team practice and meet them before an NBA game.

(It's not too late to grab your Toronto Raptors Championship Merch)

This extraordinary gesture by Ellen and the Toronto Raptors raised Autism awareness globally and was a great example of how organizations can have an impact on each individuals' life just by involving them in something they never believed they could do or achieve. As we move forward, you will continuously recognize more organizations involving and employing individuals with ASD, which is not only great for the families, but also for the business world.

You can check out the Sam the Barista Videos here:

Businesses need to continuously be socially aware and take note on the execution of hiring and involving individuals with autism, along with implementing resources to properly train and assist them complete daily job duties. This can easily be obtained by communicating and inquiring about their needs on the job or through the hiring process. They enjoy routine, which jobs offer through time scheduling, such as 9 to 5 jobs, which is one key advantage employers have when approaching the hiring process with someone with Autism. Moreover, these organizations need to continuously gain information as no two individuals with Autism is the same and the 'stereotypes' are not always prevalent. Most importantly, organizations need to maximize these individuals' strengths and potential by placing them in positions and opportunities to strive, rather than giving them limitations. Just like everyone, individuals with ASD have a desire to advance and progress in their careers.

Autism Relative, along with many other organizations, hope to raise Autism awareness in the business world in order for individuals with Autism and their families know that they have the opportunity to find work and make an income independently. Autism Speaks has also created a web-based portal ( in order to connect the business community with these candidates. It's definitely a step in the right direction to create a better future for children and adults with ASD.

If you know an individual with Autism in the workplace and want to share videos and/or pictures of them with us, feel free to email us at

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