Autism Shifts was founded by Vicky Westra as a result of the experiences she and her husband had while raising her daughter Gabrielle (Gabbi), who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of four. Vicky shares the journey that many families have had in finding the right resources, people and programs that could serve Gabbi and help her to continue to grow and develop. She felt a calling to create something different for Gabbi and others in the same situation.
After 22 years in Corporate America, Vicky left her senior leadership role and started a coffee company and a Non-Profit for Autism. These two organizations came together in 2011 to form Artistas Café, a first-of-its kind Café employing a team of front-line employees who have all been diagnosed with Autism.
Vicky and her team at Autism Shifts have created a proven and unique model that incorporates a very holistic approach to preparing students to successfully enter the workplace. Through our partnership with Artistas Café, we have developed an understanding of what it takes to create an environment where individuals with autism can grow and develop their skills to be successfully employed.
What makes our program different??
- We are Autism Experts…we are parents, educators and employers of those diagnosed with Autism. We’ve made it our priority to really understand the diagnosis of Autism from every level. We are now excited to share our expertise so that we can truly create an Autism Ready Community… Education is the Key.
- Our education program addresses all the key areas critical to creating a new world for the Autism community. We provide training and education to individuals diagnosed with Autism, their parents/caregivers, businesses interested in becoming Autism Ready as well as the broader community.
- Our Autism Employment Ready Program takes a very holistic approach to preparing our students for the workplace. We provide them with the tools to empower them to care for their own emotional, mental, physical and sensory well-being. In addition, we educate them about the many facets of the business environment so they understand it and their role in it.
- We partner with Career Skills Partners who provide specific job/career skills to help them become understand Autism so students can more successfully learn necessary skills to move into a career of their choice.
- We partner with Resource and Service Providers within the Autism Community to understand what they do so we can unite to better serve the Autism Community. We also offer Autism Education/Training when needed.