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WINDHAM, Maine (AP) — A Maine mom hopes the salsa she makes with her autistic son will grow to the point that it employs people on the autism spectrum while supporting a nonprofit advocacy group.

Stephanie Lay, a Texas native, makes the salsa with her 15-year-old son, Bryce, in Windham.

The Portland Press Herald reports the teenager moves through their house at warp speed but that he’s all business when it comes to Maine-Tex Grilled Salsa. With methodical focus, he lays tomatoes, onions and peppers on the grill, turning them as they roast. Inside, he rinses rows of jars.

“Who would have ever thought of salsa and autism?” Lay said. “I have been an autism activist for a decade and I became a salsa maker six months ago by posting a photo on Facebook.”

Bryce, who likes to cook his own meals, learned how to make the salsa a few years ago. It’s now sold at the Hannaford supermarket in Falmouth and at fairs across the state.

Before the salsa could hit the Hannaford shelves, Lay had to navigate a long USDA approval process that included sending jars of salsa to a food scientist to check the shelf life and pH balance.

Hannaford sold nine cases of Maine-Tex Grilled Salsa in less than two weeks and has placed an order for more.

“I love salsa and love her story,” Hannaford store manager Doug Mercier said. “For me it was a no-brainer.”

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