SammySocks Etc. is one of the most fun companies you’ll ever have the pleasure to buy from, but it was born as the solution to a much more serious problem. Its goal is to provide financial security and a safe and accommodating workplace for its namesake, Samuel Lyons, who is on the autism spectrum.
Samuel, who was born in Round Rock, Texas, was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at the age of four. This condition, which is now grouped under the autism umbrella, stands for “Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified” and often affects individuals’ social skills, communication, sensory processing, cognitive skills, and adaptability to new environments.
Samuel, who also has OCD, keeps a rigid daily routine and engages in repetitive and compulsive behaviors. He is good at following directions but needs constant reminders and prompts to keep him focused. He avoids physical touch and hates loud noises and any type of change. He doesn’t cope well with strangers and has a harder time getting along with men than women.
But Samuel is also much more than his disorders. He loves listening to music, especially Katy Perry, and he has the unique ability to create “mash-ups” between two songs with similar rhythms.
“He knows which songs go together,” writes Mark Lyons, Samuel’s father. “One song will be playing on the radio, and Samuel will be singing another song along with it at the same time.”
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Samuel is also very vocal, albeit mostly around his parents and not with most other people. According to his parents, Samuel has always shown an interest in certain types of technology, like trains, cars, elevators, toilets, video games, bells, clocks, and more. He especially likes the Walmart in Clifton Park, New York, and the one on the west side of Flint, Michigan, because their loudspeakers emit a train horn noise before each announcement.
Samuel has worked hard over the years at speech and physical therapy and in school, but he still struggles. Back in 2017, Mark and Sally Lyons, Samuel’s parents, began to wonder what the future might hold for their son. He would soon age out of the public school system, but there weren’t many places that would accept someone like him and give him gainful employment.
“We are both in our sixties and worry about Samuel having enough money once we are no longer around,” says Mark. “I retired from being a teacher in 2020. Not a lot of money there. We wanted to provide Samuel with a safe and secure place to work that allows for his needs as a person with differing abilities. We also wanted to try to earn money to put aside for his future.”
So in 2017, Mark and Sally hatched the idea to start a business for Samuel. Mark and Sally spent their nights and weekends and Mark’s time off from teaching in the summer researching possible business opportunities and laying the groundwork for the new company. Then, in September of 2020, they started SammySocks Etc.
Samuel, now 23 years old, is learning to make a living at SammySocks Etc. He packs up the company’s information packets that go out with each order, including a candy treat, a discount coupon, a poem, an information card, and a SammySaying. He also puts together the children’s Bells and Whistles Bag, which contains a spinning top, a rope bracelet, an animal sticker, 2 mini erasers, a brain puzzle, a bookmark, and a puzzle piece, which acts as a reminder that each of us is a part of a bigger whole.
Mark reports that the business hasn’t had very many customers yet, so Samuel hasn’t been able to do a lot of work so far. However, the family has high hopes that this will soon grow into a more lucrative business to provide Samuel with a decent income. They also hope to be able to employ other adults with differing abilities in the future.
Check out the video below to see Samuel in action at SammySocks Etc. and to learn more about his story. Be sure to stop by their website afterward and see what they have to offer!Whizzco