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Meet the Peetes

Holly Robinson Peete is an actress, singer and philanthropist.

She started by introducing herself as the daughter of Sesame Street's original Gordon.  For any of us old enough to remember watching this iconic PBS television show, you will remember Gordon who was Big Bird's human friend that helped him to understand the world around him.
But as the keynote speaker on Thursday morning, she spoke as a mom with autism in her family.  Wife of football legend, Rodney Peete, Holly spoke of their son RJ.  The first day that RJ was diagnosed has forever been called the "The Never Day."  The reason for this title was because the specialist who reviewed all of the test results told the Peetes that RJ would never..... do this and do this and do that.....etc, etc, etc.  So it is always called "The Never Day".

She spoke of the level of pain and understanding of RJ's diagnosis that had to come in their own family before they could speak to the world about it through h…

Our Hosts for Autism at Work Summit 2018

In support of a vision for a more neurodiverse workplace, SAP launched the annual Autism at Work Summit in 2016. The partnerships of an ever-growing list of companies have come together for the third year who place an emphasis on hiring people with Autism. The Autism at Work Summit creates a platform for academia, public and private sector, philanthropy, civil societies, service providers and the community to come together and to inspire imagination, ideation and collaboration by sharing from all of the wisdom and expertise that is assembled under one roof for three days. This is the only annual meeting of its kind in the world.

The town of Redmond, WA is where it all started for Microsoft. And Microsoft, in turn, has played a significant role in the development of the Seattle area. The commute to work is made easy with Wi-Fi powered shuttles, and once on campus the lunch options are nearly endless with more than two dozen world-class cafes and restaurants. On any given day, employees …

Rising Tide Car Wash - A Neurodiverse Workplace

This week placed me at several days of meetings in a little-known company in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington called Microsoft. The focus of the entire three-day symposium is Autism at Work.

The keynote on day one was Tom D'Eri,
who co-founded a company called Rising Tide Car Wash.  His presentation not only spoke about the trials of setting up this social enterprise that currently employs over 80 individuals with autism but he spoke about the autism advantage that he has been recognized for as his company has more than doubled with now, 150 employees having been employed.  Initially, the enterprise was to provide an on-going employment opportunity for his brother who is on the autism spectrum.

However, RTCW has become so much more than that.  It not only serves as a job for a number of years for some of the employees but it also can be a first-time job for many others who go onto college or a career after only a year or so.

Tom has proven that you can run a company that makes mon…

SEI Corp has Passion for Building Acceptance for Neurodiversity, One Person at a Time

Last week, we held our 2nd Annual Shark Tank event. We were privileged to have four very knowledgeable and successful individuals from the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds who listened to each of the presentations made by Hill Top students. Each of these judges brought their attention, their enthusiasm, their passion and their encouragement to the judge's table.

While each of the judges were thoughtful enough to send us warm and glowing emails about how impressed they were with not only the student presenters but the general student body as well as the community of faculty and parents that took part in the event.

However, Al Chiaradonna, who is the Senior VP of Private Banking at SEI Corporation, wrote a piece in his company blog. He shared it with us. The focus of what he wrote is not just about his experience at Hill Top but also about the influence it has had in his revisiting the topic of neurodiversity in the workplace. He essentially challenges his colleagues to look at …

Self-Reflecting on Where One of Our Own Fits in the World Around Him

Dear Friends and Colleagues, For those of us who work with bright and creative individuals on the high end of the spectrum, we continually are struck by their achievements and abilities. But often we spend more time thinking about how to help them with their areas of challenge instead of celebrating their strengths. One area that many young adults struggle with, whether neuro-diverse or not, is self-reflection. But a parent of one of Hill Top's alumni wrote a piece for a course he is taking at college. Carter said that he didn't mind using his name and would enjoy being part of the conversation. So, I am sharing this insightful, reflective piece from a young man we all respect immensely. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did that was an assignment for an interpretive dance class that Carter enrolled in this semester. Thank you, Carter, for allowing us to share this.
TWN Dance Project #2 Theme Essay What my theme is about is longing for reality. By that, I mean that …

Parents Share Thoughts, Optimism and Anxieties

Hill Top Prep alumni parents attended meetings held at the Headmaster's residence for the purpose of sharing their thoughts about life after graduation.... it was intended to be just a conversation.  The alumni parents with children who are alumni from the past ten graduating classes and who had responded to Dr. Schindler's survey were the ones we invited to join this conversation.

Each conversation was started with the question, "What does independence mean for you, for your child, for your situation?"

Several parents spoke of losing the structure and the caring staff from their years at Hill Top when that diploma arrived.  After graduation, the parents were kind of on their own.  Legally, their children were no longer minors and that meant that the parents weren't able to manage their children's lives in as direct a fashion as they had before graduation.  Two parents talked about just trying to get grades from their child's college, or to learn how he w…

A School for Transitions on Madison Avenue

"Location, Location, Location......that's what they say."
I was thinking that in my head as I rounded the corner from 37th St. onto Madison Ave in NYC
and then reached the building.

As I headed up in the elevator for an appointment with Mr. John Civita, Director of Winston Transitions I kept thinking, "what a killer address for a program that says that they can get you ready for the world of employment."

Their website says:
"Designed for young adults, ages 17-21, Winston Transitions offers an academic program and practical internships with guidance, structure, communication, and the continuous feedback that is a trademark of a Winston Preparatory School education. The Transitions student community is comprised of a diverse group of learners with unique patterns of strengths and needs all of whom need additional work to be prepared for post-secondary programs, or gain further academic, work, and/or life skills."

But what I discovered when the elevator …