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Mom Power: How Two Houston Moms Created a Nonprofit Organization to Meet the Needs of Their Autistic Children

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             Contact: Wendy Dawson, Executive Director
                                                                                                           Phone: (O) 713.461.7200 / (C) 713.705.6851
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Mom Power: How Two Houston Moms Created a Nonprofit Organization
to Meet the Needs of Their Autistic Children


A growing organization serves a widening community
of families with kids on the spectrum.


(HOUSTON, TX, May 7, 2018) –– There’s no bear like a mama bear: that’s what Wendy Dawson, founder and Executive Director of Social Motion Skills, and Denise Hazen, founder of Aspire Accessories, always say. The proof is in the success of the nonprofit programs the two moms created when they were unable to find resources in the Houston area to meet the special needs of their own autistic children.


“There simply were no services that solved our needs,” recalls Dawson, whose autistic stepson Cameron, now 22, came into her life when he was four years old. At that time, she and her husband sought assistance to help Cameron acquire the social skills necessary for navigating life. “There’s tutoring for math, reading, and baseball swings,” Dawson says. “Why not for social skills and job skills?”


Unable to find what she was looking for, she decided to create it herself and started Social Motion Skills in 2010.


Similarly, six years ago, Denise Hazen began making leather bracelets with her autistic son Nicholas after he had shown an aptitude for the fine motor skills used in leather crafting. They began partnering with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, and soon they had to hire Nick’s friends to help keep up with the demand for their products. “All of a sudden, it went from a mother- and-son endeavor to a more viable business,” says Hazen. She joined forces with Dawson and Social Motion a little over two years ago, and today Aspire Accessories offers a job skills training ground for young artisans with autism––all of whom are paid for their work.


“We immediately identified with each other,” Dawson says of Hazen when they first met, “as moms wanting to create resources in the community that didn't exist for our sons on the autism spectrum so that they could find purpose, happiness, and community.”


The results achieved by these two moms’ dedication to their kids have benefitted not only their own families, but also a growing community of Houston families with autistic children. (The latest estimate from the CDC indicates 1 in 59 children in the U.S. have autism spectrum disorders.) To date, Social Motion’s programs have served over 1,600 young people on the spectrum or with similar social-cognitive challenges. The organization continues to expand Aspire Accessories and has partnered with Memorial Hermann Hospital, Clear Lake Infiniti, and, recently, FedEx to help autistic clients transition into the workforce as they grow older.

Meanwhile, Cameron Dawson is currently a junior majoring in communications at Texas Tech University, and Nicholas Hazen, age 22, continues to create a flourishing line of products at Aspire.

“They have a sense of purpose,” Denise Hazen observes about the kids who participate in the Aspire program, “and, more than that, they have a sense of community. I think that’s been the greatest thing from a mother’s point of view––because first and foremost, I am a mom. I’m doing all this for my son.”

Dawson agrees that the love of a mom can be a powerful force for change. “When resourceful moms get their minds set to help their children, there really is no stopping them,” she says. “A mom's caring devotion to her child is a huge component in the child’s achieving lifelong success.”

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Social Motion Skills is a Houston-based 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to providing strategies and
life path solutions to enable those with social-cognitive challenges to become productive, fulfilled individuals.

Aspire Accessories is a program of Social Motion Skills dedicated to teaching young adults with autism and similar special needs sustainable employment skills. Aspire products are available for purchase online at aspireaccessories.com.

 

If you would like more information, please reach out to Wendy Dawson, Executive Director: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / (O) 713.461.7200 / (C) 713.705.6851 or to Denise Hazen, Creative Director of Aspire Accessories: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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