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Coding for Youth with Autism - Pathway Out of Poverty


In January of 2019, Families Helping Families NOLA developed Coding for Youth with Autism - Pathway Out of Poverty, a win-win-WIN program to train and help place transitioning youth with autism in meaningful work situations. In collaboration with local partner organizations LSU Health Development Center and Operation Spark, the program teaches the science of computer programming and other computer skills.

The Coding for Youth with Autism program has three overarching goals: 

  • Decrease social isolation

  • Increase wage-earning potential

  • Meet a real community need

Program Details

Upon completion of a three-hour assessment administered by an FHF NOLA Vocational Counselor,  students who sucessfully complete the assessment will be eligible to attend Operation Spark’s six-week Introduction to Computer Coding. The Introduction components include:


  • HTML and CSS (building blocks of websites)

  • JavaScript fundamentals (makes websites and apps interactive)

    • Datatypes and operators

    • Variables

    • Functions

    • Conditionals

    • Loops

    • Arrays

    • Objects


Classes are 1.5 hours per day, Monday – Thursday for six weeks. The schedule will be announced in September. 


Once completing the introductory course, students will be evaluated and referred to enroll in Operation Spark Level 1 and Level 2 classes. These courses build upon the fundamentals taught in the introduction course.

Fundamentals of JavaScript, Functional Programming,

and Web Development: Level 1


  • Basic web page development skills, including:

    • Knowledge of and experience working with HTML syntax, structure, and common tags

    • Knowledge of and experience working with CSS syntax and how to apply it to page elements to generate a desired aesthetic

    • The ability to produce functional web pages built purely from HTML and CSS

  • Basic JavaScript skills, including:

    • Knowledge of and practice using standard JavaScript syntax for basic coding constructs (variable declaration, conditionals, loops, functions, arrays, and objects)

    • The ability to reach code built from the above concepts

    • Understanding of program flow

    • Understanding of data structure representation (including strings, arrays, and objects)

    • The ability to write single file programs that use the above concepts

Fundamentals of JavaScript, Functional Programming,
and Web Development: Level 2


  • Familiarity with and experience using functions as first-class objects

  • Experience using unit tests to debug programs and product functions with the desired functionalities

  • Experience writing robust functions that are designed to handle multiple types of input

  • Experience working with libraries and the underscore library in particular

  • Knowledge of and exposure to npm and node

  • Experience developing functions from scratch with minimal guidance

Program Requirements


  • Interested candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a transitioning youth between the ages of 18-25 who have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum and have an interest in computer science 

  • Have the support of a parent or caretaker

  • Complete FHF NOLA’s three-hour readiness assessment (will be in-person at the FHF offices, physically distanced with the FHF vocation team

  • Submit a non-refundable application fee of $25 (if accepted, this fee will be applied toward the skill assessment) 

    *Pending physical distancing requirements due to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus; students may need travel assistance.

Program Cost 


Course costs may vary per student based on a sliding scale fee. Scholarships are also available.

Success Stories


Fifteen students participated in the pilot program, six of whom completed the first introductory class and two completing all courses up through level 2. It is anticipated that five students will receive their initial industry standard certification this year.  Upon completion of the course work, students will work with FHF NOLA on vocational placement. 


Why Participate in the Program

  • Young adults with autism have the lowest rate of employment and the highest rates of complete social isolation than any other group of people with disabilities  

  • Nearly half of 25-year-olds diagnosed on the autism spectrum have never held a paying job

  • People on the autism spectrum often have neurological strengths in the areas of logic, data organization, and visual learning used in computer coding

  • Over 700,000 tech jobs in the USA are unfilled. Many are in the Greater New Orleans area

  • Click here for more information from Operation Spark on careers in software development.




Contact Us Today.

To learn more about the program and/or schedule an assessment,

please contact Rickii Ainey at


Download Registration Here.


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