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Puzzles Bakery in Schenectady Nails the Autism Friendly/Centric Model

Puzzles exterior Puzzles treats

By Kim Stagliano

Sometimes dreams come true. Thoughts and ideas on paper spring to life before your eyes.  For instance, I'm a big Harry Potter fan.  I can recall watching the very first movie in the theatre and marveling at how each scene turned the book into a cinematic reality before my eyes.   

Puzzles Sign CupcakesWhen I was a newlywed living in Cleveland, Ohio, I joined the Junior League and volunteered at The Children's Museum. One of their exhibits was "The Great Green Room" from the classic book, Goodnight Moon.   I had no kids of my own, but I knew the book, of course.  And when I walked into the room for the first time, I was transported into the pages. 

As my girls have aged into adulthood, I've been writing the story of their future in my mind's eye. A bakery with an autism theme has been a dream of mine - far fetched - but still, a dream.

On Friday night, I saw firsthand how that dream would look when I had the great honor of speaking at Puzzles Bakery & Cafe, Puzzles Micin Schenectady, New York, whose owner, Sara Mae Hickey is an autism sibling.  From their website:

In addition to serving delicious food, the bakery-café provides adults with developmental disabilities with an opportunity for personal growth, as well as a source of income, social interaction, and a sense of purpose.

Sara Mae has done everything right. And I mean everything. From the design of the signage, to the soothing, bright cheerful interior (with a community room) to the menu of fun, healthy and delicious foods, Puzzles would be a great bakery and cafe even without the autism theme.  But that theme is truly the icing on the cupcake.

I think the autism siblings will change the world for our kids.  They are battle tested.  Some will become advocates and warriors on behalf of their brothers and sisters.  Like Sara Mae Hickey has for her sister. 

As April approaches,Puzzles Coffee the month of "awareness", we need to promote businesses and people who personify action, support. Eating cupcakes and drinking "holy cannoli coffee" is a pretty easy way to get started. 

Thank you Sara Mae. Thank you Elaine Rambo Hickey, her Mom, and my FB friend who introduced me to her daughter's work.

Puzzles Bakery. Check it out.

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor for Age of Autism.


Kristen Shave

To Sharon DeNunzio... After working with the cafe to provide food for a training at our church, I will tell you that they go above and beyond to offer Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Nut-Free choices. I am sure they would work with you to arrange items for any dietary restrictions you or your loved ones may have. Sara is simply amazing!

MIchele Vics

the most delicious food!!

Sharon DeNunzio

Wouldn't it be even more amazing if this bakery opted to offer gluten and dairy free and-or paleo-vegan recipes? Since so many on the spectrum and others with auto-immune disorders are following these types of diet, wouldn't this be just the inclusive model we would all love to embrace? Give it some thought! Such a wonderful article.

Elaine Hickey

Thank you, Kim. Thank you everyone. I am so incredibly proud of my daughter, Sara, who personifies the term "super-sib"!! Kim, it was an honor to meet you.

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you for sharing with us also! I agree this appears to be a delicious and enterprising way to advocate.


Kim, thanks for telling us about this wonderful bakery. My son's day program is in the process of trying to create small businesses like this one. There is hope for our children's future as this trend continues to grow throughout the country.

Bob Moffit

"I think the autism siblings will change the world for our kids. They are battle tested. Some will become advocates and warriors on behalf of their brothers and sisters. Like Sara Mae Hickey has for her sister."

Kim .. your observation gives me great hope that future generations will finally bring an end to this "man-made" tragedy. I think one thing is for certain .. THEY will not be as unprepared as our generations were when we blindly accepted the pediatricians "educated opinion" that vaccines are the "miracles He/She were taught they were in med school".

Think about it for a moment. There are literally hundreds of thousands .. siblings, cousins, neighbors, etc .. just like Sara Mae Hickey and yesterday's contributor Fiona Jameson .. a teenager in high school who has the courage, confidence and information to "speak up" in "health class" .. challenging the "miracles of vaccines" that our generation were taught.


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