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How a Facebook photo led to a business for a teen with autism

September 14, 2015

Stephanie Lay of Windham, Maine, has started a salsa-cooking business called Maine-Tex Salsa with her son Bryce, who is on the autism spectrum. 

According to Stephanie, Bryce, started showing self-injurious behaviors starting at age 5. She knew she had to find an activity that would both calm him and make him feel included. It turned out that cooking helped Bryce immensely. Stephanie is originally from Texas and one of the things she taught Bryce to make is her home-made grilled salsa. He places the tomatoes, onions and other vegetables on the grill and flips them as necessary, among other tasks. 

This is how the whole thing came about:

It all started when Stephanie Lay posted a photo like this one of her and Bryce's home-made grilled salsa on Facebook. It left her friends hungry and asking for the recipe. So Stephanie decided to sell some jars of it.

Bryce loves grilling all the vegetables for the salsa to perfection.

Sometimes the smell of all that salsa can be intense for Bryce, but he's dedicated to his job.

Freshly-canned Maine-Tex Salsa made by Bryce and his mom Stephanie. 

Stephanie was more than excited to know that local First Responders liked her salsa recipe.

Then a local diner started selling her salsa AND spreading autism awareness!

Then something big happened, The Hannaford supermarket in Falmouth, Maine started selling Maine-Tex Salsa!

Bryce looks really proud to see the salsa he helped make in an actual grocery store.

Bryce loves seeing all the headlines his salsa business with his mom is getting!

Stephanie hopes to keep expanding Maine-Tex Salsa so that she can one day employ adults with autism to help cook up her locally-farmed homemade salsa!

Autism Speaks is committed to providing resources and supports to increase employment opportunities for teens and adults with autism. Earlier this year, Autism Speaks launchedTheSpectrumCareers.com, a jobs portal for individuals with autism. The portal was designed to promote inclusive employment of the autism community by connecting employers, service providers and employees on the spectrum.

The Autism Speaks Employment Tool Kit provides young adults and adults with autism with tips and tools to help them research, find and keep employment in the current competitive labor market.

Additional employment tools include An Employer's Guide to Hiring and Retaining Employees with Autism Spectrum DisordersA Parent's Guide to Employment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and an Autism in Big Business Report.