This is a post by Denise D. Resnik, Matt’s Mom, SARRC Co-Founder, Autism Speaks Housing Committee Member & Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA) Leadership Council Member. Denise will be a featured speaker tomorrow during the Autism Investment Conference in San Francisco during the Housing Needs session. Denise's son Matt has created SMILE Biscotti, a successful home bakery based in Arizona as a way to start supporting himself and saving for his own place to live!
When Matt Resnik graduated from Chaparral High School last year, his daily routines and patterns, developed for years within the same safe, supportive environment, came to an end. Even minor transitions are not easy for a young adult with autism who excels in math and computer skills, yet is significantly challenged by simple communications and social tasks. As parents we needed to find something that would advance his skills, fill his daily schedule with meaningful activities and enable him to learn to support himself.
Thanks to the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and Matt’s participation in its Rising Entrepreneurs Program, made possible by a planning grant from the Arizona Departmental Disabilities Planning Council, Matt created a home bakery business named SMILE Biscotti (an acronym for Supporting Matt’s Independent Living Enterprise).
The recipes originate from family Mandelbrot favorites and have generated an overwhelmingly response. Since he started selling in late October, Matt has baked, packaged, mailed and delivered more than 20,000 biscotti with the help of friends, family and Facebook.
SMILE Biscotti has been promoted through social media networks, his website development and lots of family and friends helping us spread the word. It’s been a family endeavor with dad focused on Matt’s production skills and tasks including shopping, baking, packaging, tracking orders and product testing; mom lending support on marketing, outreach and sales; Auntie Debbie setting up our packaging systems and dining room, affectionately known as the “Biscotti Cave”; and a village of friends, family and members of the community who have “liked” and shared Facebook messages, placed biscotti orders and offered encouragement every step of the way.
Now that Matt has mastered baking, shopping and packaging, the weeks ahead are focused on learning how to enter data, sales information and make sales calls. Matt’s goal is to sell 100,000 biscotti in his first year and build a business that grows beyond our home kitchen, employing other individuals on the autism spectrum or with related disorders.
At age 22, Matt represents on of the more than 500,000 U.S. children with autism entering adulthood this decade. When the school bus stops coming, these kids and their families face an imminent crisis represented by a drop-off in services, a disjointed adult service provider network, age-related medical issues, developmental regression and an aging parent population with fewer family and economic supports.
SARRC recognizes the potential of individuals with autism and provides a collection of programs and services, including Rising Entrepreneurs, through its Vocational & Life Skills Academy. To learn more, log on to www.autismcenter.org.
To order your SMILE’s, check out Matt’s website at www.SMILEBiscotti.com.
Experiencing the sweet taste of success is becoming a reality for Matt and others with autism as they share their skills and talents with the community. Thank you for helping us all spread the word and his SMILE’s!