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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Nonprofit Works With Individual on Autism Spectrum to Realize Potential and End Isolation

Dr. Heidi Stieglitz Ham, an expert in cognitive psychology with a focus on autism, is working to put adults on the autism spectrum in greater control of their lives. The nonprofit she founded, Spectrum Fusion, works to help provide meaningful, strategic connections to people who often feel isolated and alone.

She calls the experience a Reactor Room. By working with an adult on the spectrum to identify a dream, goal, business idea or creative desire, the organization builds a team of reactors to hear and react to the idea.

The reactors, as the audience members are called, then work to help the individual develop or refine a plan to bring the vision into reality. The exercise serves to transform lives both by helping the individual to realize their full potential and by connecting them with a community of support so they are no longer isolated.

Interview with Heidi Stieglitz Ham, the Founder and CEO of Spectrum Fusion.

The following is the pre-interview with Heidi Stieglitz Ham. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: Spectrum Fusion will generate revenue from four primary sources

1) Corporate sponsorship. Corporations, in a move toward greater inclusion, are mindful of the value of neurodiversity in their workforces. Spectrum Fusion provides valuable training and orientation to corporations poised to embark on this forward-thinking approach to expanding their employment bases. In addition to direct consulting fee income, corporate sponsors will support our efforts so that we can conduct and expand our Reactor Room program. The Reactors completing this program have activation plans that often flange up to the needs of the corporate employers.

2) Grants. We are vigorously pursuing funding from the expansive philanthropic community in the greater Houston area. We are providing a solution completely unique to adults on the autism spectrum that are not offered in any other venue. Our research outcomes will be presented to foundations and charities.

3) Direct contributions. It is rare to find anyone in the community at large that is not touched directly or indirectly by a person on the autism spectrum. Our experience thus far is that there is a willingness to support our efforts financially and through volunteerism by individuals.

4) Social enterprises. Adults on the spectrum are creative, original and inventive. We provide a platform and an incubator for many of these ideas to come to fruition in the form of business enterprises. While we believe it is important for all individuals developing marketable concepts and ideas to retain intellectual property rights and earn income as their businesses are successful, Spectrum Fusion will also develop an enterprise of its own to earn a revenue stream.

Scale: At the present, Spectrum Fusion in an early stage of development, receiving its 501c 3 status in July, 2018. Three Reactor Room events have been piloted to demonstrate proof of concept. We are currently collaborating with Rice University School of Social Sciences to measure the outcomes of our program and elucidate the factors that contribute to success for adults on the spectrum. We are expanding our outreach through social media, mainstream media, and our community connections. The Reactor Room program is trademarked and licensed and this is a concept that that can be brought to cities around the country. The Reactor Room program requires three people to be hired and trained to follow through on the connections of the Activation plan. At the present time there is one paid case manager and four volunteers supporting the day-to-day operations of Spectrum Fusion. Dr. Heidi Ham, the founder and CEO is not drawing a salary until the funding and cash flow reach sufficient levels. There are currently three social enterprises being fostered and developed by the Reactors of Spectrum Fusion.   Our first corporate training program is being negotiated at this time with a roll-out anticipated in the next six months. At Spectrum Fusion we believe in embracing cognitive differences and unleashing the potential of adults on the autism spectrum, to create a powerful and neurodiverse workforce. We are not alone. Companies around the globe now realize the economic advantages and the enormous value of hiring neurodivergent adults. Companies including Microsoft, SAP, Ford Motor, DTX, and Hewlett-Packard Australia have developed programs to attract the talent of these individuals. We are now forming collaborations in the oil and gas industry and developing highly specialized programs to attract, hire, and retain a neurodiverse workforce. The program restructures the interview process and streamlines the onboarding, job training, and mentoring processes to create environments that are conducive to a variety of cognitive strengths and styles. Led by Dr. Heidi Ham, PhD, Spectrum Fusion is looking to partner with companies to launch a pilot program to hire and retain new employees as well as provide training for the organization to create successful and lasting outcomes.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Social impact means that you are addressing a significant social problem,. In our case, the social challenge is that children on the autism spectrum are reaching adulthood in record numbers, and society is not prepared to meet the needs of these individuals.

More about Spectrum Fusion:

Twitter: @Spectrum_Fusion



Spectrum Fusion is a 501 C (3) non-profit organization designed to improve the quality of lives of individuals with autism, not only by raising awareness but also through harnessing the power and the energy of collaboration and community engagement. We are making the world a better place for adults on the autism spectrum by unleashing their hidden potential and transforming lives as we remove the barriers to important connections necessary for opportunities for these individuals.

Heidi Stieglitz Ham

Heidi Stieglitz Ham’s bio:

Twitter: @DrHeidiHam


Instagram: @spectrumfusion

Dr. Heidi Stieglitz Ham is a social entrepreneur, clinician, researcher, and published author. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in Human Communication Disorders and graduated with her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Edinburgh in 2010 specializing in autism. Dr. Stieglitz Ham is a dual-certified speech pathologist in both the US and Australia. After completing her Ph.D., she taught and conducted research at the University of Queensland before moving to Western Australia.

After years of listening to the the concerns of parents sharing their stories regarding the lack of opportunities and positive outcomes for their adult children, she created a vision grounded in the concepts of fostering a sense-of-belonging, forming a community, embracing the science of hope, and helping adults on the spectrum find their purpose. This conceptual vision was presented at TEDx Perth in 2014. Dr. Stieglitz Ham founded Spectrum Fusion in 2014 in Australia, and in 2016 brought her concept of a community-based approach to working with adults on the autism spectrum to the US. She launched The Reactor Room: ‘A Growth Tank’ for Adults on the Autism Spectrum designed to create new and innovative opportunities for these individuals. It is the only program of its kind.

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