A local mom and son team are redefining the possibilities for people with Autism with their professional at-home bakery, Gil’s Sweet Abilities.
“We’re baking cinnamon rolls,” Gilbert Valenzuela said from his home in Whittier.
The cinnamon rolls are one of Gilbert’s favorite items to make at the family’s at-home bakery he runs along with his mother Jeanette Valenzuela.
“Life with Gilbert, it’s kind of like being on a roller coaster with your eyes closed. You know, autism is not a breeze,” Jeanette said.
The 20-year-old Gilbert was diagnosed with autism 16 years ago, and he led a very busy life until June of 2020.
“He graduated, and then there was nothing. So, Gilbert needed something to do.”
That’s when Jeannette said she decided to bring Gilbert on as an official paid employee.
“You need to take breaks and the work can be modified, but if want to earn this money, then you’re going to have to do the work,” she said of the venture with her son.
The taste is undeniable and the pair’s teamwork is unbeatable.
“Our busiest times are Halloween through Christmas. The final day we do accept orders, though, is on Christmas Eve and the day before Christmas Eve. So, that’s the day you got to pick up,” Gilbert said.
Jeannette said going from mom to boss wasn’t too much of a transition, but believes it will be when they hopefully grow the business.
“Inviting some of his peers, whether it be someone with autism or Shaw Gibbs syndrome or down-syndrome, people all with unique abilities that may not have the opportunities that a typical person would.”
In the next five years, she and Gilbert hope to have a brick-and-mortar store with several employees. Until then, they’ll work from home, a place where there’s a lot of their secret ingredient.
“Mine are actually made with love, just like how crabby patties are made with love,” Gilbert said.