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The Social Scoop

Info, Inspiration, Community - News from Social Motion

Autism and the Holidays - A Personal Look

A common saying in the autism community that’s true year-round is, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” At Social Motion Skills, we try to keep this principle top-of-mind in our individualized approach to providing life path solutions to children with autism and similar special needs. Truly, each person with cognitive differences is unique.


During the holiday season, we often see articles with tips for families with children who have autism. Such listicles offer well-meaning advice, but in their attempts to appeal to a broad readership, they risk stereotyping neurodiverse individuals. Proposed suggestions such as informing relatives in advance not to hug an autistic child, not to worry if a child doesn’t speak, not to be offended if a child doesn’t make eye contact, and not to say anything if a child won’t eat, paints a picture of autism that simply doesn’t apply to every child with the condition. This risks creating an expectation of generalized “autistic behaviors,” most of them negative, when instead we should be raising awareness of the case-specific nature of autism spectrum disorders.

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Social Motion Welcomes Emily Smart as Director of Development

Social Motion Skills is pleased to announce the hire of Emily Smart in the role of Director of Development. She will be the first person to hold this position at Social Motion.

“We are thrilled that Social Motion’s programs have grown to the extent that the talents of a full-time Director of Development are required,” says Wendy Dawson, founder and Executive Director. “Emily’s expertise in fundraising, donor development, grant writing, and stewardship directly matches our needs. Her heart and enthusiasm for helping families and children with special needs attain their goals is evident! I’m excited for all our clients and supporters to meet her as we continue achieving our corporate goals.”

Smart joins Social Motion following her role as Associate Director of Annual Giving for the Jones School at Rice University, where she was responsible for significant growth in the annual fund and for managing an extensive portfolio of donor prospects. Prior to this, she worked as Director of Advancement at Saint Thomas Episcopal School, Director of Development at Interfaith CarePartners, and as a grant writer for Children’s Museum of Houston. She credits her first job out of college at the Monarch School, where she served as Assistant to Program Directors, with cementing her passion for nonprofits serving children with learning differences. 

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How virtual reality is transforming autism studies

"For more than two decades, scientists have experimented with the technology to set up controlled scenarios to study autistic traits. At the same time, some teams have used VR to create role-playing environments for practicing social skills. Increasingly, however, people with autism are using VR to convey their own experiences, both to raise awareness of the condition and to capture the cognitive and perceptual differences that characterize it. Some experts hope these efforts will lead to new research collaborations and applications."

Read more at SpectrumNews.org.

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Want to discover (or re-discover) your sense of purpose at work? Here’s how

Maybe we’re burnt out from the acute stress of a demanding job or desensitized through the stress of daily life in general. We may be so harried by routine tasks and demands, distracted by habits, our noses to our to-do lists, that we don’t notice how we feel — or conversely, we are so caught up in our feelings, whether good or bad, that we lose sight of the big picture. Read more here. 

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Employment Advice for Individuals With Autism

Identifying interests and non-interests at an early age is an important skill for development. This interest could potentially foreshadow what a child could do well in the future. Dr. Shore, who has ASD, indicated that as a teenager he loved repairing bicycles. He decided to approach the shop manager at the local bicycle shop and discussed his interest and passion in repairing bikes; ultimately he received a job offer to work at that store. Read more here.

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20 Best Value Colleges for Students with Autism 2017-2018

The symptoms of Autism (or in its less severe form, Asperger’s Syndrome) cause challenges that can persist throughout life. Daily functioning can be especially difficult for college students with ASD, who may struggle to make friends, communicate with professors, and adapt to the dynamic environment of a college campus. Fortunately, some colleges have developed support programs that uniquely cater to the needs of students “on the spectrum.” Read more here.

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14 must-have life skills for teens

If you’re wondering how your teen will survive on their own, don’t worry too much — chances are your child is a lot more capable than you think. Even so, now is a good time to teach your teen a few practical skills that will leave both of you feeling a little more confident about your offspring’s readiness to leave the nest. Read more here.

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Read This Story and Get Happier - The most popular course at Yale teaches how to be happy. We took it for you.

In the face of this epidemic of unhappiness, Santos decided to design a course in “positive psychology” — i.e., the field of study that focuses on well-being, as opposed to psychological dysfunction. Such classes have been around for more than a decade, but they typically served as introductions to the field — sort of Happiness 101. Santos’s course aims to do more. Read more here.

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3+1 Reasons to Make Social, Emotional, and Academic Development a Priority

For me, there are three main arguments for taking an integrated approach to students' social, emotional, and academic development: (1) improving academic achievement; (2) preparing students to succeed in the world of work; and (3) addressing the civic mission of schools. Social and emotional competencies are instrumental to student success in each of these domains. Read more here. 

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Op-ed: Your next great employee might have Autism

During Autism Awareness Month, the national conversation around autism tends to focus on children. We hear the statistic that one in 68 children in the United States have some form of autism, a neuro-developmental disorder. We hear that autism is on the rise and that no one yet knows why. Amidst these concerns, we may overlook the fact that autistic children grow up to be autistic adults, comprising one of the most promising but untapped workforces in the country. Read more here.

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Cast Aside | Autism's cliff to nowhere

This so-called tsunami --- some half a million young adults with autism --- are turning 22 in the next five to 10 years. For many, it means aging out of many programs, schools and services, that were mandated. Read more here. 

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Relationship Matters: Why socializing is a must, not an option

All individuals are born with their own personality, talents, cognitive curiosity, socializing proclivity, unique preferences, interests, cultural and later religious family affiliations and develop the social skills needed to relate to others. The most important issue to healthy human development is knowing that one is valued, cared about, protected and safe... Read more here. 

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Mom Power: How Two Houston Moms Created a Nonprofit Organization to Meet the Needs of Their Autistic Children




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             Contact: Wendy Dawson, Executive Director
                                                                                                           Phone: (O) 713.461.7200 / (C) 713.705.6851
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Inside the tweener’s brain

The tweens and early teens of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are often hormone-addled, pimpled, unpredictable narcissists, rudely defiant one second and emotionally clingy the next. They’ve probably calculated that you’re not as completely cool as Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Stephen Curry, or even their faddishly-dressed BFF — and they let you know it. You may wonder if your precious child’s body is inhabited by aliens. Honestly, close guess — those invading “aliens” are hormones. Read more here. 

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Adults with autism bring special talents to the workplace -- employers would be lucky to have them

Individuals on the spectrum see things differently and can bring new perspectives to ways of working and thinking. They often have novel approaches to problem solving and working because of their unique thought processes. With encouragement to be different, employees on the spectrum can bring a whole new level of innovation to an organization. Read more here.

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A Look Inside An Autism-Friendly Workplace And Culture

Our discussion started with the enormous grassroots activity of the past few years, the expanding corporate autism employment initiatives, and the explosion of autism in popular culture. Our focus, though, became workplace culture. Many in our autism community did get jobs, only to lose them shortly thereafter. So much of current workplace culture makes retention of adults on the autism spectrum an uphill struggle. Read more here.

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Why 'High Functioning' Autism Is So Challenging

The fact is that life with severe autism is extraordinarily difficult. Logic would suggest that people on the high end of the spectrum have it easy—as do their families and teachers. After all, people with high functioning autism are often very bright and may have impressive talents. But the reality is quite different. Read more here. 

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Spectrum Designs Expansion Inspires Documentary

Mackey decided to film a feature-length documentary, This Business of Autism, about Spectrum Designs’s move down the street to a larger facility that will enable the organization to employ 50 more workers. But soon the film took on a life of its own, as it morphed into a larger story about opportunities for adults with autism throughout the country. Read more here.

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Matt manages a team of people - he's never spoken to any of them

When Ryan Mattock, co-founder of startup CommissionCrowd, needed to recruit a web developer three years ago, he received an inquiry from a potential employee, Matt Skillings.

Their conversation, over email, led to Skillings being hired by Mattock. He is now the company’s chief development officer and leads a team of four. But Mattock and his colleagues have never spoken over the phone with Skillings, or met him in person. Read more here. 

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He's got the will. Can he find a way?

In the past decade, Tom Whalen, a 27-year-old Baltimore County man, has had jobs at an animal shelter, a mailroom, multiple grocery stores, a doggy day-care center and a landscaping company. He is chatty, outgoing and engaging, quick to win over strangers and ask for opportunities. Then, in short order, he loses them.

"He could get jobs," says his mother, Sue.

"The problem is maintaining them," adds his father, Ed. Read more here.

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