Project Inclusion: Help Improve Courses in Special Education at the University of Oregon

Too often, the lived experience of disability is not at the forefront of undergraduate learning, but a new effort is underway at the University of Oregon with support from The Tom and Carol Williams Fund for Undergraduate Education. The project is seeking the participation of community members such as individuals experiencing disability, educators, personal support workers, and advocates. Continue reading

How Autistic Individuals Have Helped Direct Cognitopia’s Development

Cognitopia’s development of self-management applications has been shaped by people with autism in ways both direct and indirect. From the beginning we have used a participatory design process whereby students and adults with autism work with us on design iteration and testing. For example, for the last five years, we’ve had a deep collaborative relationship with a local transition program serving students aged 18-21 with autism, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, and traumatic brain injury. Continue reading

The Order of Self-Determination Club in Arlington, VA Recipient of the First Annual James Keating Memorial Self-Determination Award

PRESS RELEASE

EUGENE, OR: FEB 10, 2020: Cognitopia, a small business focused on research and development of technology to support employment, education, and community living for youth and adults with cognitive disabilities, today announces that The Order of Self-Determination Club of Arlington Public Schools Office of Special Education is the recipient of the first annual James Keating Memorial Self-Determination Award. Continue reading

Introducing Stairway to STEM: Online Resource for Autistic Students Transitioning to College and Other Post-secondary Educational Opportunities

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

Engaging Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities in the Development of Self-Management Tools Through Participatory Design

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

Podcasting: It Can Provide Opportunities for People with Autism

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.

Continue reading

OSTC 2019: Igniting Partnerships for Student Success

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

Transitions Cost More Than $2.3B in IDD Support Services

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

Free April Webinars for Autism Awareness Month

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.

Meet the Artist

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

Cognitopia Evolution: Then and Now

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

Giving Students Meaningful Data to Measure their Progress

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

How Cognitive Support Technology Is Empowering One Man with Autism

Raising three boys in rural Oregon in the late 1980s and 1990s, Trina began to first notice unique developmental behavior in her three-year-old son Clinton as he was just learning to read. “Clinton had learned all of the sounds, but phonetically he couldn’t put them together. Even today, Clinton is more typical in that he can read the dictionary and learn the definitions of words or small things, but he cannot read a novel.” Continue reading

Using Goal Guide to Manage Routines at Home and in Middle School

Our work on cognitively accessible self-management applications has always relied on a participatory research approach that grounds development in the real-world life experience of individuals with disabilities and those who support them. We are fortunate to have a rich network of students and adults with disabilities, parents, and teachers who drive our iterative development approach by providing design input, using our beta version apps, and telling us how to improve them. Continue reading

More Snap Peas Please

There was one moment using the Picture Planner visual calendaring program back in 2001 that particularly sticks out for me.

Through the Eugene 4J Schools Community Living Program, students have the opportunity to volunteer at a nearby community garden. Like many people with autism spectrum disorders, my students that year had very restricted diets. Many of the students refused to eat vegetables. One person had never eaten foods that were a different color other than white. Continue reading