South Florida Baker Using Sweet Treats to Help Kids Dealing With Autism

Mara Salinas, owner of Flantasia Flan, says its not the softy creamy custard that makes her business so unique: it’s the workers behind the table

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s an authentic Latino dessert that people love: sweet, creamy flan. Now, a local baker is taking the dish to another level by using the treat to help some very special people.

Mara Salinas is the owner of Flantasia Flan. Every weekend, she sells her sweet treats at the Palmetto Bay Farmer’s Market.

Salinas says its not the softy creamy custard that makes her business so unique, it’s the workers behind the table. Every week, she brings together several autistic teens and young adults to teach them how to run a business.

“They are amazing. They each can do something different," she told NBC 6. One is good at engaging people, one is great with the money, one is good at preparing the orders.  They are just great!”

She says the teens like to feel normal and productive.

“I just see it a glimmer in their eyes at the end of the day," Salinas said. "They are exhausted, but they are all together. It’s amazing for me, it really it.”

Salinas says her daughter inspired her to start the business. Rachel is on the autism spectrum, but always loved to bake. She saw her working at a school fair and was inspired by her abilities. 

“I saw her here standing front and center and she was in charge of everything,” Salinas said.

Every weekend, you can find Rachel along with her classmates selling sweet treats while learning how to be independent. A real joy for Salinas, who enjoys seeing her daughter and others succeed.

For more details on Flantasia Flan, click on this link.

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