Dancing Toronto Starbucks barista with autism serves up grande moves

A teenage barista is livening up the daily grind at a Toronto Starbucks with a few funky moves.

Video of 17-year-old draws more than 52 million views and 820,000 shares on Facebook

A teenage barista is livening up the daily grind at a Toronto Starbucks with a few funky moves.

Sam, a high school student with autism, served up a beverage while dancing throughout in a video that has captured hearts and views

The 17-year-old uses dancing to cope with a disorder in which he experiences uncontrolled movements, store manager Chris Ali told CBC News, adding that Sam loves music and dance.

Sam, a 17-year-old Starbucks barista, rocks out while preparing a drink at a Toronto Starbucks. (Carly Fleischmann/YouTube)

The teen said he wants to see more businesses give opportunities to people with special needs.

"People with autism do not want to be looked at with sympathy," Sam said in a statement. "Please, please, please keep an open mind about what people with special needs can do."

Sam's confidence has grown since working at Starbucks, his manager says. (Carly Fleischmann/YouTube)

The video, originally uploaded by Toronto autism advocate Carly Fleischmann on Jan. 22, garnered more than 52 million views and 820,000 shares on Facebook after it was picked up by Love What Matters, a Facebook page that shares inspiring stories.

"It has taken Sam and Chris a lot of shifts and hours to get Sam to do what he is doing in the video," wrote Fleischmann, who also has autism.

"More people like Sam need to be seen, heard and given a chance to thrive and dance."

Store manager Chris Ali says Sam is an inspiration to the Starbucks team. (Starbucks Canada)

Ali said Sam used to be shy but is now "super confident and engaging with our customers."

Sam was unavailable for an interview but Ali said the teen is "super excited" about the viral video.

"He's been reading a lot of responses and he's been inspired. He's been able to inspire a lot of people as well."

"It's been pretty phenomenal." 


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