FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Love In Motion
Enriching The Social Skills Of Children With Autism Earns
Wendy K. Dawson TEW Women on the Move Award
HOUSTON —Wendy K. Dawson sees extraordinary “possibilities” in children living with autism. Founding Social Motion, a ground-breaking institute specializing in social skills programs, she built an organization that helps children learn to believe in themselves, blend in and befriend. Since its inception, the lives of approximately 1200 children and parents have been enriched through Social Motion, an act Wendy calls an extension of love. And that “motion” was set in place long before Wendy was born….with a message in a bottle.
When Wendy’s father David was just a young boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, he and his brother Ivan tossed a bottle into the Arkansas River with a note that read “If found, write us back, David and Ivan King, Little Rock Arkansas.” Little did he know, that little bottle would travel all the way to Bayou Sorrel, LA and into the hands of Dubby Bezet, sparking a long friendship between that would greatly impact his daughter Wendy’s educational opportunities, broaden her social skills, and sharpen the business sensibilities she would use and change the lives of families through Social Motion.
As David traveled past huge chemical plants on his way to visit Dubby near Baton Rouge, he was inspired to follow his dreams and become a chemical engineer – a decision that would send Wendy across the Atlantic Ocean and new opportunities. Thanks to David’s career, Wendy (alongside her sister and mom) spent her formative years in Holland attending a Dutch school.
“I think the good fortune of being an expatriate and changing schools frequently while growing up helped develop my outgoing nature. This varied upbringing also helped develop my love of languages, cultures, people and families.”
Following a return to the States to finish high school, she embarked on another transatlantic journey where she studied International Business at the American University in Paris. After Paris, Wendy moved to New York where she began an exciting career at French Bank Societe Generate before heading to Texas to work in the oil industry.
Now a Texas resident, a blind date set in “motion” a romance with a tall man from Scotland named Alistair Dawson, who shared her tastes for finer food and exquisite wines.
“It was love at first sight. We laugh that were it not for our matchmaker, we never would have met. Mine was a world of oil traders, his, a world of attorneys, and while we frequented many of the same restaurants and wine bars, we never seemed to be at the same place at the same time. We have not been apart since that fateful first date.”
After an 18 month courtship, the couple decided to blend the Scots and the Cajuns with a kilted wedding at Dundas Castle outside of Edinburgh. Their blended family includes a daughter named Kaitlyn, a University of Texas Law School graduate, Collin and Connor, both students at Kinkaid, and a special boy named Cameron who was diagnosed with a form of high functioning autism (PDD-NOS) at age two.
Just as Wendy’s father shifted the direction of his life during his travels past the chemical plant, it’s through Cameron that Wendy says a shift in her career and calling.
“I had an “aha” moment. Cameron was doing well academically, but he was missing social connections and opportunities common to his peers. I believe when you see how you can make the world a better place, we are morally obligated to do so.”
As Wendy and Alistair sought out programs and services best suited to prepare Cameron for a life of independent living, they found there was little out there for families dealing with their needs.
She soon realized that same fundamentals she used to garner success in international business and commodity markets of corporate America could be applied to the special education sector. She quips, “We never found it, so we built it.”
“After hearing from parents of youngsters say, ‘I just want my child to have a friend,’ I saw that convenient, affordable specialty social skill training services were sorely lacking in the community. At that moment, I set about putting my plan to bring social skills training and transitional services for children and young adults with autism and similar special needs into action.”
Social Motion, which Wendy founded in 2010, grew out of the desire to teach children with Autism how to acknowledge their value and credibility in the world and practice real-life social skills that can lead to a happier, more independent life. With its flagship in Spring Branch, Social Motion now has satellites offices in Harris, Ft. Bend and Montgomery counties.
In addition to Social Motion and being active at her children’s schools, Wendy has served as President of the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary, and on the Board of Easter Seals Greater Houston, the advisory boards of Safeway Driving Centers and UT Health’s Children’s Learning Institute.