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Tech Incubator On South Coast Helps Ideas Like Program To Help Those With Autism Become Reality

Oliver Thornton and his brother, Trinity look at the "Coding Autism" website under development

One in 68 children in America are on the autism spectrum.

Many of these kids will grow up and have a hard time finding a job, not because of a lack of capability, but because they don’t have the social skills to find the positions.

A Ventura County college student decided to try to help with that problem with a new project: “Coding Autism.”

Oliver Thorton is CEO, and co-founder of “Coding Autism”. He came up with the idea last year, when he was attending California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Thornton was enrolled in the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

He says he has a vested interest in helping those on the autism spectrum, because he has it, and so do others in his family, as well as some families of friends.

“Coding Autism” is just one example of the three year old center’s efforts to help people learn how to create startups. Mike Panesis, the Center’s Executive Director, says Hub 101 is a space for people to develop their ideas, and for students to learn about, and take part in the process. “Coding Autism” co-founder Oliver Thorton says it was a “Shark Tank” like competition last year sponsored by the Center which gave his proposal the boost to move forward.

Thornton says 80% of those of adults on the spectrum are unemployed or underemployed, even though those with autism are uniquely qualified to handle specific types of engineering jobs. He says the program will train would be employees how to interview, and get along in a work environment.

A “Coding Autism” crowdfunding campaign on has raised more than $40,000 of the $50,000 needed to get the company up and running. Plans call for the “Coding Autism” effort to be based initially at the Hub facility in Westlake Village. The goal is to have it in action serving people by the end of the year.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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