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Coding Autism: Online coding academy specifically designed for autistic learners

Our mission is to help empower autistics to reach their maximum potential in their careers, studies, and lives
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Our mission is to help empower autistics to reach their maximum potential in their careers, studies, and lives
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Oliver E. Thornton
Founder/CEO of Coding Autism

When 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.

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Director of Autism Specificity and Soft Skills

Mellissa’s youngest brother was diagnosed with Asperger’s when Mellissa was 16 years old. Mellissa immediately became involved in her brother’s development through helping with school work, community involvement, and bringing her brother along with her everywhere. Within three years Mellissa knew that she wanted to devote her life in some way to improving the lives of individuals with ASD. Mellissa obtained her B.S. in fitness and wellness and then went on to obtain he M.S. in Developmental Disabilities from Nova Southeastern University. Mellissa took her knowledge and passion gained through personal experience and academics and applied it to helping adults with disabilities find and maintain employment through her work as a certified supported employment specialist and job skills trainer. Mellissa has earned an Autism Specialty professional endorsement from the University of North Texas and a Leadership and Advocacy in Developmental Disabilities professional endorsement from Nova Southeastern University. Mellissa continues to push the possibilities for individuals diagnosed with Autism.

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Ian Earley
Director of Technical Mentorship and Career Counseling

Prior to his role at Coding Autism, Ian was a coding bootcamp graduate of Bottega where he took a mentorship role within the bootcamp to help dozens of other Bottega students successfully complete their programs. In addition to his mentorship for Bottega students, Ian was hired as a software developer for Nikola Motor Inc. where he has worked on various projects from their company website to the onboard systems that power the infotainment program for each vehicle. At heart, Ian wants to become a coding instructor and mentor for students who want to transition their lives into becoming coding professionals, just as he did.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Are there companies that hire autistic individuals?
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.
What is my investment paying for?
Salaries for key employees (instructor, occupational therapist, career counselor), location, resources, and stipend for the co-founders. More details showcasing where an investors funds will be allocated towards is showcased in the company overview above.
How much will it cost to take a class for interested prospects?
At the moment, Coding Autism's programs cost $7500 for the online part-time python & react course, $10,000 for the online full-time python & react course, and $499/mo for the online cybersecurity course. 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. And entry level developer jobs start at $50,000 per year, so while this is a large investment in the short term, it will pay off in the long term.
Are you guys a non-profit?
We are a for-profit LLC and brand ourselves as an impact / social enterprise company. As a for-profit business we will be able to more easily scale and 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 also in the process of applying to become a Certified B-Corp by B Labs, a designation given to companies that contribute a portion of their revenue to non-profit causes and put impact as one of their primary motives for business operations.
Do you guys have a proprietary curriculum that you offer? If not, where does your curriculum come from?
For our coding program, we are currently licensing the coding curriculum from our coding partner Bottega. As of now, we do not have our own proprietary curriculum, however this is something that we will explore creating in the near future for programs such as Quality Assurance/Software Testing, Blockchain, etc. Licensing our curriculum from Bottega was carefully thought through by us and we feel confident that their curriculum provides an excellent framework for students to learn the necessary coding skills required to land entry-level employment within the technology industry. We are also utilizing Cybrary's cybersecurity curriculum for our cybersecurity offering. Regarding proprietary curriculums, our soft skills curriculum is proprietary to Coding Autism and has been created by Mellissa Toler, our Director of Soft Skills and Autism Specificity.
Will students get a degree? Are you accredited?
Upon completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of completion. Through out partnership with Bottega, our curriculums are accredited by AdvancED, which is acceptable as university accredited units (15 units per Bottega course) at various universities such as Utah Valley University (UVU). Bottega also recently acquired a university as is in the process of becoming an accredited university themselves that can award BS degrees in Computer Science for students who complete various coding courses through Bottega. Although as of now the coding curriculum isn't recognized as accredited to universities nation-wire, it is important to note that all other coding academies such as General Assembly, Thinkful, Bloc, and Coding Dojo are non-accredited curriculums. Like other coding academies, our program is based on training students in the necessary coding skills required to secure entry level employment within the technology industry.
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. For our online programs, 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. Students will also be instructed to complete a 50+ hour prep course. 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.
Will you have classes for children?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked. For our online coding academies, we are entirely focused on the problem of autistic employment, and for that reason are only 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 include programs for kids.
How many students have enrolled into Coding Autism's programs since you have launched?
Since our launch date of May 29th 2018, we have had 6 students enroll into our course. Of those students, 3 have graduated and one is currently working at Auticon in Culver City, CA full-time. We also have over 30 students who have completed our free 50+ hour coding prep course as well as 20-25 students who are currently taking the online prep course.
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