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The Order of Self-Determination, an Arlington Public Schools club for special-education students ages 18-22 transitioning into adult life, has been presented with the inaugural James Keating Memorial Self-Determination Award.

The club, housed in the school system’s office of special education, works to have members support each other to gain confidence and prepare themselves for the next phase of their lives.

The $1,000 grant will support the club’s annual conference, to be held May 20.

Deborah Hammer, an autism specialist with Arlington Public Schools, serves as adviser to the Order of Self-Determination club.

“This award will help motivate my students and enable us to fulfill their goals for the event,” she said.

The award was presented by Cognitopia, an Oregon-based business focused on research and development of technology to support youth and adults with cognitive disabilities.

“My brother James experienced autism, and over time developed the functional daily-living skills to live in his own apartment, which he really wanted,” said Cognitopia CEO Dr. Tom Keating.

“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,” Tom Keating said.

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