By Ellen Seidman
February 18, 2015
Individuals working at a car wash

Parents of kids with disabilities know full well how much we do for our children to keep them healthy, cared for, and happy. Every so often, though, you're floored by a family that's gone to extraordinary lengths for their child with special needs. Like, say, open a car wash.

Father-and-son team John and Tom D'Eri started Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Florida, to give their adult son and brother employment, as reported by NationalSwell. Andrew has autism. As he approached age 22, when people with disabilities age out of entitlement laws that provide services including education and life skills training, his family formed a nonprofit focused on businesses that would employ people with autism.

Ultimately, they decided on the car wash industry, which could engage people with autism with its repetitive and detailed work. They also sought to increase public awareness of the abilities of those with autism.

Rising Tide Car Wash opened in April 2013, and currently employes 25 people on the spectrum—80 percent of its employees. The D'Eris have plans to expland to three locations in the next two years. Wouldn't it be great to see this open nationwide?

Over the years, I've heard about parents of kids with special needs starting businesses for their children. Like Sharon Artz, a mom in my community who created the soap company Soaperior Organix to teach her two boys with autism life skills. Or Tim's Place, a restaurant in Albuquerque owned by Tim Harris, a man with Down syndrome, opened with help from his parents. There's also a seriously inspiring recent story about the mother of a 25-year-old with Down syndrome finding her a gig at a consignment shop through a Facebook post.

My son, Max, is currently intent on being a firefighter. I have no idea how that will play out, although I figure that I will do whatever is in my powers to make things happen for him, as I always do. But the parents and families who have gone before me and figured out ways to find meaningful work for their children give me a whole lot of hope.

Ellen Seidman is a mom of two, editor, and professional snacker who blogs daily at Love That Max. You can find her pondering special needs parenthood and other important topics (such as what her next snack will be) on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Google+ even though she still hasn't totally figured out what that is.