The Order of Self-Determination Club in Arlington, VA Recipient of the First Annual James Keating Memorial Self-Determination Award

EUGENE, OR: FEB 10, 2020: Cognitopia, a small business focused on research and development of technology to support employment, education, and community living for youth and adults with cognitive disabilities, today announces that The Order of Self-Determination Club of Arlington Public Schools Office of Special Education is the recipient of the first annual James Keating Memorial Self-Determination Award.

The award includes a donation in the amount of $1000 to the club in memory of James Keating, younger brother of Cognitopia CEO Dr. Tom Keating, Ph.D.

The Order of Self-Determination is a club for transition-aged students 18-22 whose members support each other in providing training and educational presentations to younger students and classrooms on the experience of disability. They also plan various educational events, including an annual conference on self-determination, which is attended by high-school students with disabilities from across the school system. This award is intended to support their fundraising efforts for staging that conference.

“My brother James experienced autism and over time developed the daily living skills to live in his own apartment, which he really wanted, but that could only happen with a significant level of daily support and innovative technology,” Keating explained. “He was one of the more self-determined people on the planet, and it was our experiences together over the three decades when I was his caregiver that drove my exploration of how computers could facilitate the development of self-management skills that enable a self-determined life and help caregivers provide better support. This award is intended to honor his memory and his contribution to the Cognitopia company vision.” 

“I’m extremely grateful and touched by your generous offer of $1000 to help us raise funds for our annual conference on May 20. This award will help motivate my students and enable us to fulfill their goals for the event and it is certainly a lovely tribute to your brother,” said Deborah Hammer, Autism Specialist, Arlington Public Schools. 

Hammer has spent 11 years working with young adults at the Arlington Career Center and younger students in other schools in Arlington, Virginia.  As an Advisor to The Order of Self-Determination Club, Hammer works closely with the Virginia Department of Education’s I’m Determined Project to promote student self-determination and person-centered planning. She also frequently presents at national and international conferences, including the Autism Society of America, Council for Exceptional Children, the National Autism Conference, and the World Autism Organization International Conference

Keating’s work has been focused for over twenty years on research and development of self-management and community living applications for individuals with cognitive disabilities including autism, intellectual disabilities, TBI, and cognitive decline due to aging. He holds a Ph.D. in Special Education and Rehabilitation from the University of Oregon, where he also serves as a Courtesy Research Associate in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences.  

The Cognitopia Platform for Self-Determination was developed in part through support from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research and from the Institute on Education Sciences. It is available at

Contact: Julie Henning
Marketing Manager, Cognitopia/Assistech Systems, LLC
Phone: 866-573-3658
Images and Interviews Available Upon Request

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About Julie Henning

Julie Henning has been with Cognitopia since 2015. In that time, she has been involved in customer support, training, marketing, documentation, social media, and data collection. Some of her favorite projects have been mentoring our videographer intern, Nate, and weekly classroom testing and curriculum development for the many students in the 4J Connections Transition program. She works closely with Eugene-based SLLEA (Smart Living, Learning & Earning with Autism) to integrate Cognitopia’s self-management tools into the organization and structure design input and support platform implementation. Professionally, Julie has over twenty years’ experience working in engineering, technology, software development, and journalism; a path made possible with two degrees in Technical Communication: a BS from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and a MS from Colorado State University. A single mom of three high schoolers (grades 9, 10, and 11), Julie has introduced Cognitopia to terms such as “sick” and “yeet,” while overseeing the office coffee consumption. In her free time, she enjoys playing recreational soccer, improv comedy, and traveling.

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