The Rainbow Club, Cork Charity which was set up by Seán’s parents Karen O Mahony and John has helped Sean find his passion for baking and make the best of lockdown’s challenges and as a result, Seán has established a new business for himself in May 2021 called;
‘The Autistic Baker’. The Cottage Community cafe is part of the Rainbow Club that every week supports 550 autistic young people and their families in Cork.
Lockdown had presented many challenges for the club but the cafe used its downtime to provide training in manual handling and HACCP qualifications to some of the Club’s members during lockdown, The Rainbow Club continued providing its services to families throughout Covid, even though the cafe had to close for certain periods.
For Seán who was diagnosed with autism at the age of five, lockdown was a matter of blending this practical experience with home tuition where possible, and this allowed him to explore his interests and passions, while forging a new path for himself. Parts of the lockdown were very difficult for Seán and his tutor Billy was exploring new things that Seán was passionate about and then Seán realised that his passion was baking, bread in particular. The actual process of kneading the bread was very therapeutic for Sean and he has now turned his passion into a business. His new found appreciation for the art of baking led Seán to start as the in-house baker for the cafe, doing small-batch bakes under the name of The Autistic Baker. For Sean at the moment, he is very happy to just come in, bake his bread voluntarily, and build his brand which is the main thing he wants to do right now. It’s not about making money from his skill and passion. For him, it’s about building a brand and creating awareness around this. Sean carefully chose the name for his new business so that people would have a better understanding of people with autism and because he wanted to stop it being such a taboo word for some people. The whole philosophy for Seán with the name of his business is, if someone has a problem with it being called The Autistic Baker, then that’s exactly why we need to be more open about it and make it just a word, an everyday word
Seán’s whole attitude and approach to his life and life, in general, is so inspiring. His entrepreneurial skill in starting his own business in an area that he has a passion for is so inspiring and hope that inspiration will encourage many more young people with autism to seek to do what Seán has done and perhaps in time, there is a role for the Cork business community to support and mentor some young people that want to do what Seán has done so successfully!