Photo from the Puzzle Gourmet Store & Café Facebook page.
The Puzzle Café was built by a family's desire to give one of their family members a chance at a better future. Jose Canoy is that family member, and he has autism. His family wanted to build a safe haven for him, a place he could belong and a place where he could be productive.
Jose and his siblings now own and run The Puzzle Café located at Blue Ridge B, Quezon City. The jigsaw puzzle piece is the international symbol for autism, hence the café’s name. The café interior is decorated with puzzle elements: the wall deco, the pillow covers, and the tables which have printed sayings about puzzles and autism.
Some of The Puzzle Café's employees. Jose Canoy stands smiling at the far right. Photo from the Puzzle Gourmet Store & Café Facebook page.
Now, 4 months since the café’s official launch, The Puzzle Café has not only been a safe haven for Jose but for other autistic and differently-abled 20-somethings that the café employs as well. Here, they take orders, serve food, clean tables and even cook simple drinks and dishes. They have index cards that have specific instruction and reminders to help them along should they need help.
“We're out here to show people that being different is not bad,” Jose Antonio Canoy told Yahoo. “You can live it.”
The Autism Society Philippines estimated that around one million Filipinos have autism spectrum disorder, only 10% of which (or 100,000) have been formally diagnosed, reported Inquirer.
This photo which appears in the Puzzle Cafe's Facebook page is captioned, "Marty and Jose spent the afternoon learning how to make waffles and french fries! (And enjoyed eating it after ) #PieceTogether"
For most parents, the first tell-tale signs that something may be wrong are difficulties in verbal communication, and lack of eye contact, both of which may appear earlier than the age of 2.
Dr. Lourdes “Tippy” Sumpaico-Tanchanco, developmental-behavioral pediatrician and professor at Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, advises parents to get their child checked as soon as they have concerns about their developmental milestones, highlighting the importance of undergoing the routine developmental screenings at 9 months, 18 months, 24 months, and 30 months.
Canoy holds up a copy of the local broadsheet which featured The Puzzle Cafe. Photo from the Puzzle Gourmet Store & Café Facebook page.
These drawings were made by "special kids that enter [the café's] doors" and are displayed in the café's art wall. Photo from the Puzzle Gourmet Store & Café Facebook page.
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Sources: Aug. 13, 2015. "The family who built a cafe just for their son". bbc.com April 21, "People with autism find jobs at QC café". inquirer.net April 16, 2015. "At Manila's autism-friendly cafe, it's A-OK to be different". yahoo.com