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, Jeanna Johnson, 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.
FIDGETECH was founded in 2016 and 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, 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: Nonprofit aims to assist people with autism in landing their dream jobs
FIDGETECH is a Portland area nonprofit founded in 2016 that helps train young adults with autism for jobs, mainly when it comes to technology. That means hands-on training in classes like computer game design, programming, and also audio and video creation. Justine Haigh, FIDGETECH’S founder puts it this way: “We’re trying to create a bridge of opportunities from first exploring and trying out what’s possible with technology, to then being trained and educated, and then on to internships and with obviously the end goal being employment,” Haigh said. View KPTV’s video and the read the rest of the story here.
FIDGETECH: Where Technology and Autism Meet | Intel® Software
Intel has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. We believe that in order to shape the future of technology, we must be representative of that future. This is what started Intel’s exploration into sponsoring FIDGETECH’s initial game jam and our ongoing relationship with them, as well as other non-profits that actively work with STEM education for diverse populations… (more)
FIDGETECH in the Newberg Graphic
“Chehalem Valley Innovation Accelerator Taking Shape” – September 27, 2071
Fidgetech, a nonprofit community for young adults on the autism spectrum to learn technology and develop technical skills for employment, is one of the Chehalem Valley Innovation Accelerator’s three current tenants and hosts a weekly innovation camp at the accelerator’s work space… (more)
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)
May 19, 2018 – Two Kilts Brewing Presents the Autism Family Fun Fest with The Hit Machine Unplugged!
2:00-9:00pm at Two Kilts Brewing, 14841 SW Tualatin-Sherwood Rd.
- Enjoy a family BBQ – suggested donation $10-$12 (kids 10 and under $6)
- Experience the latest brews from Two Kilts – wine also available!
- Live music featuring Hit Machine 4-7pm with other musical artists from 7-9pm
- Kids’ activities -– free face painting and more
- Raffle – prizes donated by local businesses
Advance tickets available here
2018 FIDGETECH & Soma Games “Games Jam” for Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Young adults on the autism spectrum (17 or older) will learn game design from the talented technical teams of FIDGETECH and Soma Games. FIDGETECH new program opportunities will also be presented during the event.
The Game Jam is March 26 & 27, 2017, 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and is being held in the Chehalem Valley Innovation Accelerator, 125 SE Elliott Road, Newberg, OR 97123. Download the Game Jam PDF
To register, contact Justine Haigh:
Phone: (503) 724-3619
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.”