Stairway to STEM (STS) is a National Science Foundation-funded project that launched in October 2018. Our mission is to help autistic students realize their capacity for success as they transition to college environments and beyond. We are a web-based resource, and our content includes more than 150 posts, videos, interviews, podcasts, and other materials that support students who have autism, particularly in STEM college and technician education programs. We foster student confidence, resiliency, and self-advocacy. (Sometimes we are asked about why we use both identity-first and person-first language. Learn more here.) Continue reading
Person-Centered Planning (PCP) is a common process employed by agencies that provide supported living and employment services to individuals with disabilities. Mandated by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services at the federal level, one goal of the PCP process is to facilitate access to employment services in community settings for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), and to foster active participation in developing their other long-term goals. In other words, PCP helps an individual, their family, and their support team to maintain focus on life goals and become more involved in directing individualized supports and services. Continue reading
EUGENE, OR: SEPT 16, 2019: Several agencies within the community are coming together to host the first Eugene Springfield Community Conversation on October 7, 2019 from 6pm to 8pm. Continue reading
Co-Authors: Tom Keating and Tobias Rickard
Why Participatory Design?
Cognitopia develops accessible software for people with cognitive disabilities to self-manage everyday activities using web-based tools that foster independence, while also enhancing support received from families, teachers, and adult service providers. In the early 2000’s, when I first began teaching in a community-based transition program, I had the opportunity to work with Cognitopia’s founder, Tom Keating, on the development of Picture PlannerTM, a visual calendaring application. Students and teachers from that transition program played an important role in shaping the development of Picture PlannerTM, and these experiences led us to the inescapable understanding that the entire development process needs to include input from the individuals who will be using the product. Continue reading
Within the Cognitopia Platform for Self-Determination a routine is a sequence of steps consisting of actions that lead to the accomplishment of work assignments, activities of daily living, social skills, recreational activities, or any other self-management task. In practice, the concept of a routine may be referred to as a step-by-step procedure, schedule, task list, plan, or even a goal. Regardless of the terminology, the essential principle is that any routine can be broken down into individual steps to facilitate learning. Educationally, teaching routines or breaking down activities into steps is often referred to as task analysis and is a key component of systematic instruction. Continue reading
Leveraging special interests is a great way to engage people with autism in the world around them. Getting someone on the spectrum to talk about their area of special interest is not difficult. Rather, the challenge lies in getting them to shift to other topics or to show interest in those around them.
One way to celebrate and showcase an individual’s passion while subtly working on developing aspects of communication is through podcasting.
This past March, Eugene welcomed transition specialists and educators from across the state of Oregon for two days of professional development and networking at the 2019 Oregon Statewide Transition Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Igniting Partnerships for Student Success, a natural fit for our session on Supporting Seamless Transition Through Technology for Self-Determination and Data Sharing. Continue reading
Earlier this month Phil Hayes, our New England Representative, had the opportunity to participate with his family in a unique experience highlighting the inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities in greater Swampscott, Massachusetts.
At an event co-sponsored by Swampscott Public Schools Student Services, TASH New England, and Swampscott Unites, Respects and Embraces (S.U.R.E) Diversity, Phil’s wife Lisa Julien-Hayes and twelve-year-old son Cole were selected as panelists during the screening of Intelligent Lives, a film by Dan Habib that highlights the origin and history of IQ tests and their long-term impact on society. Woven into the storyline are the backstories of three young adults with intellectual disabilities as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Continue reading
Surprising Gifts of a Better Meal
Living in affordable housing units at Willakenzie Crossing, residents of SAIL Housing in Eugene, Oregon call over a dozen one-bedroom and studio apartments home-sweet-home. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, SAIL stands for “Supported Access to Independent Living” and operates with a mission of supporting sustainable housing in a life-enriching environment that fosters dignity and independence for adults with developmental disabilities.
As part of the program, residents gather weekly in the community room to socialize and learn new skills. When talking about cooking and eating habits in a group discussion last year, residents collectively admitted they struggled with finding healthy meal options and knowing how to follow a recipe. Continue reading
Cyclic Regression Causes Expensive Turnover, Painful Restarts, and Critical Struggles.
Decrease staff training costs.
Create smoother transitions for clients.
Preserve your investments in human resources.
Have a sustained impact on client quality of life.
You have a clear and special mission to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), promote their independence, and to bring meaningful improvements to their lives. You measure success by how well you can increase their abilities and help them solve daily challenges. That’s why your organization exists, and that’s what builds a smile on your face and warms your heart. You take all the steps needed to design a high-quality program with the service payments available to drive the supports you provide. Continue reading
Over the past year, many of you expressed an interest in learning more about the Cognitopia platform of apps to support self-determination and independence for individuals with autism and other cognitive exceptionalities.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we have two free webinars scheduled for April:
- Tuesday, April 16: 4pm – 5pm PST
- Thursday, April 18: 12pm – 1pm PST
Register here for either of these days and times and we’ll send you an email with event details. If these times don’t work but you’d like to participate at another time, let us know that too because we’ll be holding additional sessions at a later date.
For over 25 years, Tom Keating has worked on developing technology to improve the capabilities of people with cognitive disabilities. This has ultimately led to the development of the Cognitopia Platform for Self-Determination, which fosters greater independence and better support.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve begun to roll out a new look-and-feel for the demo user accounts on our website. Each account persona has a backstory and a network of established relationships that mimic the real-world use case in which they would receive support toward self-determination, transition, and independent living. Continue reading
As 2018 comes to a close, we’re taking a moment to reflect upon the progress Cognitopia has made this year. We credit much of this momentum and success to you, our many wonderful students, teachers, clients, and organizations using the Cognitopia Platform for Self-Determination on a daily basis to facilitate person-centered planning, goal setting, and self-managed independent living and work. Continue reading
In many ways, Cognitopia got its start when our CEO and founder Tom Keating became the primary caregiver for his brother James who experienced autism. James moved from their parents’ home in New York to live with Tom and their other brother, Francis, in Eugene, Oregon in 1981. Continue reading
EUGENE, OR: OCT 25, 2018: Assistech Systems, LLC, a small business focused on research and development of technology to support employment, education, and community living for youth and adults with cognitive disabilities, together with its commercialization partner, Cognitopia, announce two new grant projects that have been funded through the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), which is housed in the Administration on Community Living within the Department of Health and Human Services. The new funding will support the development of digital technology that augments the company’s existing platform of web apps designed for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. Continue reading
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Endorsed by the US Department of Labor (DOL), the purpose of NDEAM is to help educate individuals about disability employment issues and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.
This premise falls in line with the tools we are developing at Cognitopia. Continue reading
Earlier this week Cognitopia released a major upgrade to the MyLife ePortfolio application for IEP Self-Direction and Person-Centered Planning.
MyLife is being successfully used in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as in college programs and adult customized employment and supported living services across the United States. The new MyLife is more intuitive, customizable and user-friendly, strengthening the focus on self-determination—a core value of the Cognitopia Platform. The new design reflects the incredible feedback and suggestions we’ve received from all of these user groups. Continue reading
Measuring student progress is essential to understanding areas of student need. For individuals with intellectual barriers or unique learning styles, activities like standardized testing or even quiz scores and letter grades over time can be demeaning and seem pointless. Perhaps more valuable for students’ overall educational experience is being able to understand for themselves how they are doing on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis through meaningful data visualization. Continue reading
Nate’s Emerson’s interest in voice acting, theater, and comedy began when he was in high school. Using a WordPress blog to capture his strengths, interests, goals, and preferences, Nate was one of the first individuals to transition his electronic portfolio into the MyLife application. Continue reading