Shift Shapers Podcast

28 Oct 2019

Ep #289: Finding Outstanding Employees From New Communities – with Vicky Westra

David Saltzman 0 Comments


In this episode of the ShiftShapers Podcast, David talks to Vicky Westra. Vicky is the Founder and Chief Executive of Artistas Café and Javamo Art for Autism, both social enterprises supporting individuals diagnosed with Autism. She’s a board member of Autism Shifts, a program and community of parents, educators and employers dedicated to understanding autism on multiple levels.

David and Vicky talk about understanding autism and its diagnosis. They discuss how people with varying degrees of autism can integrate into the typical society. Vicky explains how normal people and people with autism can learn from one another in the “real world”. She talks about the benefits of employing autistic persons and shares her personal experience.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • 2:18 Understanding autism and its challenges to parents
  •  5:31 Vicky’s calling
  •  7:10 Employing people with autism
  •  12:24 Educating employees and employers
  •  17:05 Getting the word out


“As you looked up autism, everything that was related to the diagnosis was really surrounded with challenges with the diagnosis.”

“My personal belief is that every person that wants to be employed has the opportunity to be employed at whatever level that is and sometimes, what makes autism so hard to understand is because it is so broad..”

“People with autism think differently, they process information differently, they see the world differently, so part of it is helping them understand what the typical world expectations are and how it operates..”

“What they bring is of course, a lot of focus. they’re very focused which translates to productivity. They think differently which means they could bring new perspectives to businesses.”

“We have to feel to good about autism, our students have to feel good about autism, our families do before we can really go out there and say ‘hey, we have the same rights as everyone else to live our lives on purpose.’”


Listen to the Full Interview:

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