HOUSTON - A Houston program works with adults with autism and similar special needs, teaching them business skills while creating unique products.
“I’ve learned how to be more accepting and open and it’s just been great,” said Olivia Shanks.
Denise Hazen and her son Nicholas started Aspire Accessories seven years ago.
“He’s on the autism spectrum and he has a really fine eye for detail so I kept thinking, ‘OK, he’s 13 years old. What am I going to do with him when he grows up?’”
Since then, it has expanded to 18 employees or “Aspire Artisans” and they work two, three or five days a week for a fair wage.
“They work really hard and what we strive to have here is a product that everybody wants,” said Hazen. “They’re learning that their work is meaningful. That their work is valued.”
Griffin Matthews has worked with Aspire Accessories for two years.
“There’s never a dull moment here so pretty much every day we always have something to laugh about. We always joke around, have fun,” said Matthews. “It’s helped me to talk more and care more about people.”
Anyone can buy products, by visiting their website
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