autism job in Chicago
Aspire Accessories empowers artisans with autism

A  multitude of studies have revealed that a significant portion, more than fifty percent, of young individuals diagnosed with autism are without employment. Almost half of 25-year-olds living with autism have never experienced a job that offers financial compensation. According to most interviews, part of this is attributable to employers not being conversant with autism.

For example, some do not comprehend how autistic people think, reason, or communicate.

This causes miscommunication, non-inclusive settings, and a lack of understanding, making it difficult for individuals with autism to find employment. As a result, most Autistic workers quit their first jobs or never get hired due to a lack of accommodation in the workplace.

Aspire Accessories

However, a promising program in Houston is making strides in empowering and providing job opportunities for young adults with autism and other special needs through their company, Aspire Accessories. This inclusive conscious business offers an array of products such as jewelry, home goods, clothing and personalized gifts crafted by Talented Autistic individuals.

The inspiration behind this business is from a mother’s desire to nurture her son’s creative skills. At the age of two, Denise Hazen’s son Nicholas was diagnosed with Autism, with the doctors believing he’d never be able to contribute to society. It wasn’t until at the age of 10 that a teacher noticed Nicholas’ exceptional attention to detail. This caught the attention of Hazen, who then approached Peter Main, a skilled leather craftsman, to collaborate with Nicholas in leather crafting. Nicks’s newfound passion for this craft began blossoming, and Hazen sought to expand the production by enlisting Nicholas’ classmates to assist.

The Inspiration Source

Aspire Accessories was birthed from this idea, employing 24 skilled artisans who create goods that are nationally recognized and sold. Vallerie Codrow, one of the paid artisans, expressed her delight in working with friends and teachers at Aspire Accessories. She explained that she honed her embroidery skills while working there, and believes that practice makes perfect.

Steven O’Connor, Jr., another talented artisan at Aspire, also shared his love for various tasks such as sewing, painting and creating bracelets. He added that receiving payment for his work was an added bonus. The fruits of their labor are reflected in the profits made by Aspire, which is then reinvested into the program to sustain its operations.

By supporting Aspire, individuals are providing meaningful employment opportunities for deserving artisans like Vallerie and Steven.

Support & Advocacy

It holds immense significance to have families extend their support and champion for Autistic children & adults. This greatly benefits & instilling hope in them to lead a fulfilling and wholesome life.

At Illinois Autism Center, we also strongly believe in the pivotal role of early intervention in helping children diagnosed with Autism achieve their maximum potential.