Society makes being on the autism spectrum tough, as few jobs exist for those who want to contribute and feel a sense of meaning.
Stacey Wohl created Cause Cafe, a coffee joint where her two kids on the autism spectrum plus six others with the same diagnosis can work, contribute and be social.
The motto of the shop, “start every day with a good cause” truly captures what the customers of the shop do, as Cause Cafe makes a rare haven and gives a sense of meaning for so many people on the spectrum.
Johnathan Barksdale has Asperger’s syndrome, and could not find a job, as managers from at least ten stores found that his diagnosis was too much of a gamble when it came to filling positions.
Luckily, Barksdale found Cause Cafe. Through her children, Wohl understands that, “just because [Johnathan and others] have a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do the same things we do.”
This cafe provides the feeling that people on the spectrum are contributing, as in general, many just stay home and don’t do much of anything, as jobs simply are not available for them.
It also provides growth opportunities. Samantha Esposito is a prep cook, and was very quiet, and barely spoke a word to anyone.
Now, her confidence in herself and her job has led to her becoming much more outgoing, even training new staff members!
This type of real-world experience for people on the autism spectrum is something that should be more widespread in society, and Wohl hopes she is acting as a role model for other business owners, and that others will follow suit to create these spaces in places outside of Long Island.
Business-wise, Wohl says, you can offer your customers not only nourishment but something extra. “You can eat anywhere, but when you come here, you are giving someone an opportunity who might never have had a chance to have a job.”