Puzzles Bakery and Café

www.puzzlesbakerycafe.com

www.puzzlesbakerycafe.com

There are so many efforts underway for autism awareness and it’s amazing to see how much those efforts have opened doors for– and many people’s eyes to – the autism community. However, one area that doesn’t often get as much attention, but truly needs to, is the support of adults with autism. There are a lot of people that still think autism is a ‘childhood disorder’ that people tend to ‘grow out of.’ But as we know, there is a large, and growing, amount of underserved adults with autism – many who had services and support throughout their entire life until adulthood, when those services were no longer accessible.

So, what can be done? One big step in the right direction is how some companies are creating jobs for those touched by autism and/or providing training to develop the skills people need for employment. One small cupcake shop making a big impact is Puzzles Bakery and Café based in Schenectady, NY. Half of the staff at this café has autism. The owner, Sara Mae Hickey, who has a sister on the spectrum, saw a need in the community for employment opportunities for young adults with autism and said, “A lot of us are exposed in our everyday lives, but it’s really great to put a face on that and to know that the person bringing you lunch may or many not have special needs and that’s just normal.”

The café offers pet therapy and other programs for those it can’t employ. Since Puzzles opened, they have received 600 applications, but the café can only employ 25.  (check out more in this article).  That just goes to show that a tremendous need exists, and places like Puzzles, while a start, can’t do it alone. It’s our hope that others follow in their footsteps so that we can continue to support all people touched by autism throughout their life.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

New Vaccine Study Re-Confirms No Link to Autism

Another study has come out that again shows there is no link between vaccines and autism. This one, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, focuses on siblings of those touched by autism.

JAMA

The research –as discussed in this article – shows that brothers and sisters of children with autism were not at a higher risk of developing the disorder if they were vaccinated compared to the siblings of those without autism.

This is significant because separate studies have found there is an increased risk of autism among those with older siblings on the spectrum, which could be contributed to genetic and environmental factors. But because some have a fear that vaccines– specifically the MMR vaccine – are linked to autism, parents of autistic children have been more hesitant to vaccinate their younger children.

This study-and others related to vaccine safety—are important so we can feel confident and comforted that we’re making the right decisions for our children. Opting out of vaccines has led to several outbreaks of diseases/viruses that we would be protected from getting, such as the measles. Much is being done to combat the fear of vaccines and this study is an important reassurance that a link doesn’t exist.

Read more about the study

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Autistic Siblings Not Necessarily Similar

Nature Medicine - siblings studyIn a recent report published by Nature Medicine, scientists have found that most siblings with autism do not share the same genetic risk factors and are as distinct in their behaviors as any brothers and sisters – which is a surprise to many.

As discussed in this New York Times article, scientists analyzed genetic material from 85 families using an approach called whole-genome sequencing. And they found that 30% of the 85 sibling pairs in the study shared the same mutation, while about 70% did not.

By having different mutations, this means that the impact, and symptoms, of autism can vary greatly, even among with closest of relatives. (One family is discussed in the NYT article as an example – two brothers sharing an autism diagnosis, one will approach strangers, the other is much more shy; one loves computers, the other doesn’t; one brother is continuously on the move, while the other usually parks himself in the same place.)

The saying of “if you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism” really holds true, even when it comes to individual families.

Read more about the study here.

Lynsey, Community Manager