Providing Community – Inspiring Purpose
\FID-ji-tek\ verb-noun: technology focused
We are a purposeful, supportive community for young adults on the autism spectrum to learn technologies, uncover interests and talents, develop technical skills, and achieve educational, work, or personal goals.
WHAT WE OFFER
FIDGETECH offers a range of programs to meet the personal needs of our community. From experience, FIDGETECH has found that autistic adults have different goals when it comes to learning, lifestyle and career development.
ABOUT FIDGETECH & TEAM
FIDGETECH is the result of several years of collaboration between a small group of Portland-based individuals interested in the personal and professional success of adults with autism. Dr. Justine Haigh, FIDGETECH’s director, is mother to Dan (now 18) who was diagnosed with autism at an early age. Since he was very young, Justine noticed her son loved focusing on technology and realized that other young adults on the autism spectrum share a similar passion. Committed to helping her son and others find their purpose through technology, Justine teamed up with David Karstens and other volunteers to create a two-night/week program of computer-based activities for young autistic adults.
During early discussions of program designs, FIDGETECH’s founders were involved with the success of two adults with autism as they were accepted into internships at local Portland-based businesses. In both cases, these opportunities were the result of a collaboration between like-minded corporate representatives and advocates for adults with autism. That set the hook for FIDGETECH’s founders, and the launch of the organization’s four core programs.
2016 is the start-up year for FIDGETECH and it is in the process of becoming a 501c3 non-profit organization. FIDGETECH’s home-base is at the Chehalem Valley Innovation Accelerator located at 125 SE Elliott Rd, Newberg, Oregon, 97132.
FIDGETECH is actively collaborating with local organizations and businesses including the City of Newberg, the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce, George Fox University, Portland Community College, Chemeketa Community College, the Technology Association of Oregon, Innovate Oregon, and businesses such as Cambia Health and New Relic.
Staff & Directors
Justine Haigh, PhD – President/Director. Associate Professor of Marketing, Director, Full-Time MBA Program at George Fox University. Previously worked at Leeds Metropolitan University in Yorkshire, England. Professional experience in technical staffing and recruiting, team leadership, industrial and commercial marketing, and sales management. Certified as a Level 1 Synergy Autism Mentor through the Synergy Autism Mentorship program and soon to be certified in Incite Works’ Rethinking Careers Training program.
David Karstens – VP/Technology Director. Currently a senior software engineer at Portland-based Trupp HR, Inc. Previously worked as a senior software engineer for 9 years at SKIDATA headquartered in Groedig, Austria, and 12 years at Dolphin Software headquartered in Lake Oswego, Oregon. David has been developing retail and commercial software applications for enterprise and desktop solutions since 1988. He studied programming and computer science at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana, Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, and University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.
Jeanna Johnson – Development Director. Small Business Owner and Autism Advocate. Experienced in higher education curriculum design and implementation. Founder of the Portland “An Evening for Autism” events that raise funds for autism non-profit organizations.
FIDGETECH NEWS & EVENTS
FIDGETECH’S Game Jam
“The Intel Sponsored FIDGETECH & Soma Games Spring Break Game Jam a huge hit!” – March 27-28, 2017
Twelve young adults on the autism spectrum learned game design using Unity 3D and Gaia from the technical teams of FIDGETECH and a Newberg based game company, Soma Games. For many of the participants, this was their first time being taught by industry professionals in a fun and supportive environment. A Newberg transitions teacher passed along the following comment from one of her students who took part in the Jam, “I just heard from one of my students who attended this program over Spring Break and he absolutely loved it! He said it was one of the best experiences of his life.”
FIDGETECH in the Portland Business Journal
“Oregon startup wants to build a bridge to tech work for autistic young adults” – Oct 27, 2016
Fidgetech quietly launched over the summer as a way to help autistic young adults transition from high school to potentially a career in technology… (more)
Portland Community College & FIDGETECH
FIDGETECH and PCC are collaborating to provide specialized programs for autistic adults seeking technology-focused certifications and degrees. Check out Portland Community College’s website
Fall Innovation Camp for Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum
When: Tuesday nights, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM, September 12 – December 6, 2017 (with no camp on Tuesday, November, 21st, Thanksgiving week)
Address: Chehalem Valley Innovation Accelerator, 125 SE Elliott Road, Newberg, OR 97123
Explorer Program Parent
“I am so glad my son is in the program. Such a great opportunity to learn new skills in an environment that understands him and does not judge him. Not to mention that he is in a group of young adults similar to him where he can perhaps make new friends. What more can a mother of an ASD child ask for.”
Explorer Program Student
“This place is about getting down to business, but in a fun and supportive environment.”
Explorer Program Parent
“As a parent, I can’t tell you how much hope this gives us, that people care enough for our kids to set up such a program.”
Explorer Program Student
“It is something really special. I don’t think I have ever met such a program like it, the way they treat people with autism the way they do. They are willing to co-operate with us and they treat us like they would treat anyone else. They treat us like equals.”
Education Program Parent
“Thank you so much for everything you are doing for my son and the other FIDGETECH members. You have changed his life forever.”
Education Program Student
“I would be so out of luck if I didn’t have help with these kinds of things. I really appreciate it.”
2017 Game Jam Parent
“I have to tell you that my son couldn’t say enough positive things. He said many times how the teaching was so great. ‘They started with the most basic smallest thing and then built on that’ he said, ‘not like other classes where the teacher just has you copy stuff off the board.’ It was a great experience for him and he loved every minute of it.”