At Spectrum Academy in Pleasant Grove, Utah, a school based cafe gives students with autism life experience.

Soft Skills The Panterra Caffe has an Italian name and vibe, but it is more than a cafe.  It is a safe place where students can learn and grow through trial and error as they gain experience for work and life.

“We want to make sure they gain the experience in a safe environment,” said Liz Banner, the school’s principal.

Among the real life challenges students have experienced, they have received food handler permits, learned to cook, use math for cooking and ordering material, take orders and greet customers. They also have done all the marketing, including making commercials and setting prices.

The menu includes pizza, pasta, canolis, gelato, and Italian soda which are all hand prepared by the students.

According to occupational teacher Dave Banner, students are building skills and pride.

“The students absolutely love it,” he said. “They want to be on every shift.”

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