If you’re into Hip Hop, you may know Mississauga rapper/Hip Hop artist S.D. Flame. But what you may not know is that S.D. Flame (or Steve) is one of the only rappers on the scene who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For Steve, the path to success has been a long and challenging road.

“As a teen, I was bullied at school and home was not a good place to be either at that time,” explained Steve. “So, I often wandered around Mississauga looking for some glimmer of hope.”

When he was sixteen years old, Steve entered a high school cafeteria rap battle. Although he felt pressured into this challenge, he won the contest and a spark for Hip Hop was lit.

“For the rest of my high school experience, I would rap battle for my respect. It was like being a gladiator. I worked hard every day writing lyrics and freestyling in front of mirrors,” said Steve.

From there, his attitude was “take any mic possible” and he performed at open mics across the GTA whenever possible. As people began to take notice, the spark turned into a flicker of hope for a future in music.

Unfortunately, music didn’t pay the bills for Steve. He worked at many jobs – mainly involving dishwashing or cleaning – where he was able to listen to music and practice his rap while he was working. But these jobs weren’t his passion and he had trouble holding onto them for very long.

Although he is very independent, Steve did receive support from Career Connection – Community Living Mississauga’s employment support program. So he turned to the Career Connection team for support on developing skills and work habits that made long-term employment a reality.

“Our team helped point Steve towards employment opportunities which had some closer ties to the entertainment sector where he was able to do his own networking to help further his musical ambitions,” said Kristin Weiss, Manager of Career Connection. “Steve and I keep in touch and he always provides me with updates on his music, his work and any employment challenges he is facing. But he always takes the next steps and advocates for himself at work.”

Steve has also given online motivational presentations to other people receiving employment supports through Career Connection.

“I wanted to find a way to say thank you to the team at Career Connection for believing in me helping me though

some rough times,” explained Steve. “I thought that telling my story and inspiring other people in the program was a perfect way to give back for the support I had received.”

Thanks to having regular, long-term employment, Steve has earned enough money to build an in-house recording studio with his own money. Here, he records his music and shares it online through platforms including Apple Music, YouTube, TikTok and SoundCloud.

“I know that by working hard to build my music careers, I have made my family and people close to me very proud,” said Steve.

With his dedication to hard work and his passion for music, the future holds great opportunity for Steve and S.D. Flame will be lighting up the Hip Hop scene for years to come.