We need your help to finance the first full-time web development training program specifically designed for adults on the autism spectrum.
Watch our video and read our story below to learn how Coding Autism is working to combat unemployment and underemployment rates among people with autism.
Brief Background on Autism
What is Autism?
Autism is a complex developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood. It affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. People on the autism spectrum also display a tendency towards restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities
In 1994, autism was redefined as being a wide spectrum of conditions ranging from non-verbal and more significant impairment, to Asperger's Syndrome, which is considered to be a more "high functioning" version of autism. Some notable figures who are or are speculated to have Asperger's Syndrome are Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Burton, Temple Grandin, and Bill Gates.
- In the United States today, there are over 4 million individuals with autism: roughly 3 million being children and 1 million being adults.
- Since 2002, autism prevalence has increased by 6-15% year over year and is deemed as one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States.
- Out of all the adults on the autism spectrum, over 80% of them are either unemployed or underemployed.
- 66% of all high school graduates both do not continue their education or obtain a job within 2 years after their high school graduation.
- 1 out of every 68 children born in the United States is born with a form of autism.
- Autism is 5 times more prevalent in boys than it is in girls.
Autism in the Workforce
Research has shown that typical autistic characteristics such as attention to detail, affinity for repetitive tasks, and introversion are all traits that lend themselves to becoming a successful employee within the tech industry. For this reason, some researchers have dubbed autism the “Geek Syndrome”. With the $50k+ average annual salary for entry-level, full-time web developers, tech is an attractive industry to pursue careers in.
Over the last decade, companies such as Microsoft and SAP have implemented autism hiring initiatives. This was done not to combat autistic unemployment, but because they have seen that adults with autism can be exceptional employees and drive innovation when provided the right structure, mentorship, and on-boarding.
Positive Characteristics of Autistic Employees in the Workforce
- Affinity for repetitive tasks
- Meticulous attention to detail
- Extreme optimism
- Introvert personalities
- Incredibly dedicated employees (rarely late, miss work, etc.)
- Operate well in structured environments
What Is Coding Autism Going to Do?
Despite our population becoming more autistic by the year, there are simply not enough quality programs that are designed towards training adults with autism in the real-world career skills. As a result, too many adults with autism are either unemployed or working in menial jobs below their skill levels.
By contributing towards our campaign, you are contributing to the development of Coding Autism’s first web development bootcamp, the ASPIRE Web Development Immersive. This is a 15-week, full-time course where students will be learning the fundamental skills necessary to secure an entry-level web developer job. We cover both front-end and back-end skills, along with Quality Assurance and SCRUM principles. By the end of the course, students will walk away with a portfolio of full-stack web applications which they can use when applying for their first developer jobs.
The principles behind the Coding Autism ASPIRE program are elaborated below.
A = Autism Specificity
Every aspect of Coding Autism is designed to best fit the needs of learners on the autism spectrum. With small class sizes, on-site occupational therapists, and special emphasis on interpersonal communication and collaboration, we are able to best set our students up for succeed in the real world.
S = Social Skill Building
Oftentimes the greatest barrier for Autistic employment is not knowledge or skill proficiency, but deficiencies in social skills, such as making eye contact or reading social cues. To best ensure that our students can succeed in the workplace we place a special emphasis on social skill building. This also encourages students to build new friendships among their peers and build a network that will stick with them long after they graduate.
P = Portfolio Building
Students come out of Coding Autism with a portfolio of full-stack web applications, which will be what they present to employers to demonstrate their proficiency. We give our students the freedom to build applications around whatever subjects they are most passionate about, allowing them to experience the magic of seeing their passions come to life.
I = Integrated Curriculum
Coding Autism’s web development immersive is a full-stack program teaching our students foundational front-end and back-end web development. We also incorporate QA (quality assurance) and SCRUM principles, so that our students can be exposed to the greater ecosystem around software development.
R = Real-World Preparation and Coaching
We set our students up with the tools they need to succeed in a world that is not necessarily built for them. The real world can be daunting for an individual with autism so we work with our students to ensure that they are prepared for the real-world in all fronts from personal financial management to arriving to work prepared and on-time.
E = Employment
By the end of the program, our students are setup with the tools they need to not only stay financially self-sufficient, but to grow into a long term career where they can flourish. We help our students find the employment opportunities best suited for them through on-site career counseling, corporate partnerships, career fairs and more. We also help them build their resumes and practice for interviews.
Why We Are Doing This
It is completely unacceptable that our autistic community is experiencing an over 80% unemployment and underemployment rate. As passionate advocates who have either been diagnosed with autism ourselves or have family members affected with autism, we understand that with the right resources, training, coaching, and environment that individuals with autism can thrive in the workforce.
By founding Coding Autism and launching the ASPIRE Web Development Immersive, we are moving one step closer towards slashing the 80% unemployment and underemployment, and in turn creating highly qualified, skilled, and eager to work autistic employees to fill job vacancies in the tech industry.
Location of First Class
The location of our first class will take place at Hub 101 in Thousand Oaks, CA (Greater Los Angeles Area). We included some photos of what the classroom and facility looks like below!
Q.) Are there companies that will hire autistic students?
Absolutely. Many top-tier companies such as Microsoft, SAP and Ernst & Young (EY) have implemented autism hiring initiatives and companies such as Facebook, Google, Uber, Salesforce, and many more are in the process of developing their own.
Q.) What is my donation paying for?
Salaries for key employees (instructor, occupational therapist, career counselor), location, resources, and stipend for the co-founders.
Q.) How much will it cost to take a class?
Pricing and packages will be announced as we get closer to launch, but the tuition will cost within a range comparable to what other coding bootcamps charge. This can range from $10,000 - $20,000. We will offer options for financing and tuition subsidization to make this price point more palatable. While this may seem high, we need to be able to retain highly skilled employees in order to provide a quality education. An entry level developer job starts at $50,000 per year, so while this is a large investment in the short term, it will pay off in the long term.
Q.) Are you guys a non-profit?
We are a for-profit LLC. As a for-profit business we will be able to more easily scale, not rely on constant fundraising, allowing us to make more reliable financial projections, and be able to compensate the best talent we can find.
Down the line, we will expand to offer a non-profit segment of our business, which will provide scholarships to students in financial need, as well as donate to other autism advocacy groups.
We are a pending B-Corp certification, a designation given to companies that contribute a portion of their revenue to non-profit causes.
Q.) Will students get a degree? Are you accredited?
Upon completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of completion. As with other coding bootcamps, we are not accredited. What students will show their employers is the quality of their portfolio, and the work they produced while at Coding Autism. We are not an academic institution, but a company focused around training students with real-world vocational skills.
Q.) How do students apply? Are the students vetted?
Students will apply by filling out an application on our website. We will review the applications and reach out to students that we think would be a good fit. From there we will conduct interviews, either in person or through video conferencing.
With our web development immersive, we will be vetting students based on our assessment that they can keep up with the rigorous coursework and be employable with the proper training. Autism is a spectrum, and some students will have an easier time acclimating to neurotypical workspaces than others. This does not mean that we have forgotten nonverbal or other students with greater barriers. As we expand we will be providing other programs that will allow these types of learners an opportunity to acquire new skills, socialize, and demonstrate their talents. For the program we are fundraising for now, we are limiting our scope to the students that we think we can best equip to find employment after graduation.
Q.) Will you have classes for children?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked. For our web development immersive, we are entirely focused on the problem of autistic employment, and for that reason are limiting our scope to students that are of an employable age. That said, the majority of diagnosed people with ASD are children, and there is huge value in getting young people coding early. The question then isn’t if we will be offering programs for children, but when. As we expand, there is no question that we will include programs for kids.
Q.) Where do these classes take place? Can I take classes online?
Our first classes will be operating out of Thousand Oaks, in the Greater Los Angeles area. These will be in-person classes. While we do believe that in-person classes will offer the most benefit to our students, we do recognize the demand for online classes, so it is a matter of time before we offer something that satisfies that need. As we grow, we will expand our locations to other key tech cities. For now though, LA is our home base where we have access to the thriving Silicon Beach tech community.
Q.) Can I get on the waitlist?
If you or someone you know would be interested in taking the class, it isn’t too early to reach out! Please visit our website to add yourself to our waitlist and we will follow up with you as we get closer to launch.
Q.) When will you be launching?
Our goal is to launch our first class late summer/early fall of 2017. We may delay this to early 2018 if necessary.
Meet the Management Team
1.) Oliver Thornton
Role: Chief Executive Officer | Co-FounderWhen Oliver was two years old, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome shortly after his older brother was diagnosed with Autism. Throughout Oliver's adolescent years, he struggled with his speech, making friends, and lacked self confidence in his intelligence and ability to succeed. Through the motivational forces of autism influencers such as Temple Grandin, Oliver transformed his mentality of what it truly meant to be a person on the autism spectrum. With this newly adopted mentality, Oliver drove himself to success in his college years at California Lutheran University (CLU), where he obtained his Real Estate Salesperson License, co-founded CLU's professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and won CLU's 2016 New Venture Competition. Since Oliver's graduation, Oliver has devoted himself to his real estate representation at Compass in Beverly Hills as well as building up Coding Autism.
2.) Austen Weinhart
Role: Chief Operating Officer | Co-Founder
Austen Weinhart comes from a background of extensive experience in the technology space, performing roles in marketing, quality assurance, and web development. Early on as a student at UC Berkeley, Austen acted as president of the public relations student group, PR @ Cal. After graduating from Berkeley, he worked on both technical and marketing projects for high-profile clients such as Adobe, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and others. Austen was drawn into Coding Autism both for his passion for autism advocacy and also as someone who is a product of a coding bootcamp education. Austen is eager to create an environment where others can turn their lives around by learning to code, just as he did.
Meet Our Advisors
1.) Michael Panesis
Role: Executive Director: Center for Entrepreneurship at California Lutheran University
2.) Edlyn Pena
Role: Associate Professor of Higher Education at California Lutheran University & Co-Director of CLU's Autism and Communication Center
3.) Elizabeth Brennan
Role: Associate Dean at California Lutheran University Graduate School of Education & Director of Special Education Programs/Associate Professor
4.) Daniel Ball
Role: Program Manager at HUB 101 Start-Up Incubator & Strategy Consultant for Start-Ups & Product Development at Inventus Consulting
5.) Alon Goren
Role: Co-Founder & CEO of InvestedIn, Co-Founder of Crowd Invest Summit, & Managing Director of 805 Start-Ups
6.) Sophia Bubrick, OTR/L
Role: Occupational Therapist at Therapy West, Inc
Here is a glimpse of what some of our rewards look like.
Coding Autism Shirt
Coding Autism Snapback Hat
Coding Autism Custom Backpack
Coding Autism Athletic Shoes
How You Can Help
By making a contribution to our campaign, you are investing into improving the lives and opportunities of all adults on the autism spectrum.
You can also help by spreading awareness of our crowdfunding campaign on social media, blogs, in-person events, and other forms of advertisement. By doing so, you are helping our campaign go viral, which can result in an influx of contributions, media attention, and awareness.
All of the above is necessary in order to have a successful crowdfunding campaign and propel the autism community forward.
Press Contact and Website Info