In Rijswijk 02 2019
The new collaboration organization for organizations that work with data for the greater good of mankind, invite the Athenians to present their work in the first meetup of it’s existence.In Rijswijk
To illuminate the world with the real existence of many positive traits that manifest in autistics females, the foundation decided to ‘kick the bucket of constant negative labelling’, and shine a light of what is bright and beautiful instead. Diantha will be interviewing (dutch speaking) female autistics and experts, on which neurodivergent trait makes them particularly good in their job. We hope to present them to the Netherlands via our partner the NVA, and present them at the Neurodiversity Pride Day, to a ‘worldwide’ audience. Using ‘worldwide’ loosely: Meaning you will be able to see them for free as well. Because, that is what we wish for. The cameraman for this project is Merlijn Goldsack, a young and talented autistic that created his own self-employed company for video services.
In de Bilt 03 2019
Tjerk gave a keynote to the NVA (Dutch association for autism), to kick off the autisme week in the Netherlands. The 60 volunteers and employees got introduced to the assistive technology that the ATHENS Initiative is building to support autistics to thrive in life.In de Bilt
In Amsterdam 03 2018
The Neurodiversity Pride Day will be held on the 18th of June. Over 100 students from the HVA Creativiteit & Innovatie department, pondered over creative concepts to support the Neurodiversity Pride Day in the Netherlands. 10 Teams presented, each their own tool, program or message. The best group was Team Walnut, and we will move forward with their beautiful plan summarized by the campaign slogan ‘We are all Nuts’.
Presenting the mission to the class of 2019
Teams presenting their creative concepts.
In Almere 03 2019
To celebrate Brain Awareness Week, the Neurodiversity Foundation published the My Amazing Brain Magazine. It has lots of assignments and imagery facilitating acceptance and appreciation of differences in the classroom. The magazine is part of a program for schools that we want to grow in size & impact. On our first pilot, Lana visited three schools, ‘with Brainy’, the avatar that takes the kids on a interesting journey through their mind. Schools interested in the program, the workshop or the magazine, can mail directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The magazine and Brainy was created by Eleonora. The text is created by Saskia Weniger. And Lana helps out on every front as program coordinator.
In Los Angelos 03 2019
To reach the level of 10 million users, we must look in a concrete and pragmatic way in how to achieve it, and what seems likely is that we are going to need some friends to want us to succeed on a intrinsic level. We can build the very best tool ever build, but we are not specialized yet in product implementation and scaling. Especially looking at our third goal, which is beyond the local market, we felt it to be smart to consider partnerships with entrepreneurs who have more experience in the area than we do. We welcome their wisdom, and will use their support to help out our people with the Mini.AI project specifically, and the pheasable dream of integrating Mini.AI & Signs into screenware, implementable assisted communication for neurodivergents everywhere. This would enable any hospital, carehome or government building to get an ‘autism-friendly’ upgrade for screen-assisted communication.
In Rotterdam 02 2019
The first birthday of the foundation was celebrated in our Rotterdam Office with the developers team.
In Nederland 02 2019
On our first first Birthday, three new athenians officially started. Ana Maldonado will be board member, Erik Post legal & finance and Diantha will be in control of our social media channels.
In Eindhoven 02 2019
From Eindhoven, three speech therapist who are ‘best at class’ are (self-)selected for the research efforts. Their research will centre around three crucial questions, that will support us in iterating the current version of the Signs Language to a more optimal form. The questions are:
- What top 100 sentences are wanting to be said (without words or conversation) by autistics.
- Upon which 80 language constructs (sentence snippets) do these sentencings depend?
- Which movements can be suggested for the gestural language ingrained in Signs as a communication system?
Each researcher will answer this query on one of three different areas: parents-autistic communication, best friend – autistic communication, and teacher/coach/counselor – autistic communication.
In Noord-Holland 02 2019
To support the move towards a more neurodiverse and inclusive society, we created a magazine for youngsters about the brain. The magazine is created to support interest and curiosity into each others differences, leading to more neurodiverse friendships and understanding.
The magazine (& its avatar Brainy), is designed by Eleonora Spagnuolo, content is from Saskia Weniger, and overall project management & outreach has been done by Lana Jelenjev.
The first limited edition, will be given to schoolkids of three international schools in the Netherlands. Also the NVA volunteers will receive an addition. As well as some like-minded sympathizers, supporting the vision of the Initiative. The first edition is in English language, we hope to create Dutch language versions as well for dutch speaking schoolrooms.
In Amsterdam 02 2019
Wybe is coding the 2Tango.Dating app, with the Together functionality, partially included into the system. However a new design felt really really needed, for it to be used by many, rather than a few users. The new conceptual layout, co-designed by Kevin, will revolve around the 2Tango logo, that has a colorwheel-circle around it.
2Tango.Dating logo in early stages, with the colorwheel. The wheel suggest visually the diverse types of choices of (inter)activity between 2 individuals. The play button suggest the excitement of interaction, and the choice to either pauze, stop or move forward with possible time spend together.
In Utrecht 01 2019
Since the research effort is going very well, the SIDN Fonds decided to give the 2Tango organization a grant to build the prototype for Signs Messenger. Its a happy day for us and our teams. As a result: Szymon joins the effort as productmanager for 2Tango.Work.
In Maarssen 12 2018
On the annual supper, members of the Neurodiversity Foundation come to eat and enjoy each others company, not working for a couple of hours, together .
In Amsterdam 11 2018
To grow the research efforts, the ATHENS Initiative pitches their mission for upcoming Data scientists, as the only non profit on stage. Two of the smartest students join the research efforts.
Kevin will research the ‘strategies’ element of the Mini.AI infrastructure, specifically guiding the ‘employer- autistic employee communication’.
Natalie will research the voice of ‘Little Sister Mini’ and couple interventions for autistics to ‘state&state changes’.
In Amsterdam & Den Haag 11 2018
The 2 winnings teams of the Qchallenge collect their prices, and share the tech we can build upon. On of the new features to support the wish to uncover the mysteries of ‘state & state change’ is put forth by the team of Charris, a concept called; Happiness detection by unlabelled data. We won’t tell you exactly how this works, but if you are interested in contributing, or researching topics like this: if you are clever or capable, let us know. We always have space in our research teams.
In Rotterdam 11 2018
Growing in ambition and enthusiasm, need a product manager to keep track of our main projects. After 6 months of ‘interning/advising’, and testing the waters in presenting the cause, the founders choose Szymon Maka to become the third pillar of 2Tango organization, focussing specifically on the 2Tango.Work project. His first event is the ‘Nieuwe Energie’ event, showcasing all the Citylab projects of Rotterdam.
In Amsterdam 11 2018
The Hogeschool van Amsterdam joins the initiative, and in the creativity department organizes that their students forge in teams, a 360 degrees VR experience to support understanding of employers of the sensory issues that trouble autistics in work-areas.
The research done by the students show the opportunity at hand for this option. The foundation will seek for ways to incorporate this concept into the 2Tango.Work technologies we build. The judges of the competition are Martin, Tjerk, Merlijn and Diantha.
In Amsterdam 10 2018
Neurodiversity Foundation & Ece & Tulpp opened the stock exchange.
In Amsterdam 10 2018
To celebrate the anniversary of Qualogy, they organize a Hackathon called Q Challenge, and selects Neurodiversity Foundation to put forth a topic to support our mission. In 7 teams, groups of different students, PHDs and other bright minds, forge possible solutions for the query at hand which is centred around using user-data to gauge emotional state, and state change. Solving this issue, will support autistics in reducing the problems caused by Alexithymia (which is the reduced ability to self-report emotional state of state changes), of which about 40% of autistics experience in daily life. We will continue with the research of the 2 most successful groups in the years to come, aiming to make it a central feature of the Signs, Work & Mini.AI projects.
In Amsterdam 10 2018
Hopeful to be leading researchers in our field one day in the future, the founders of the ATHENS Initiative also have inspiration they draw from bright academic minds. Particularly the works of Ben Goertzel & Dr Hanson are a direct catalyst for our drive, and are inspirational rolemodels in character and expertise. To see their best work, called Sophia.AI, Omotola & Tjerk were invited to be present at the presentation of Obama, where Dr Hansons Robot was present too. The technical projects in Mini.ai we create adhere to the ‘Loving AI’ framework put forth by Ben Goertzel & his teams.
In Eindhoven 09 2018
Research team for Signs learning & gamification opportunities. An excellent research effort, with demo’s, explorations and a high level of overall cleverness.
In Rotterdam 08 2018
To decide where we will ship our product to, is a more challenging question when thoroughly investigated: will we ship our solutions via an open market for individual users, via the municipalities, via large corporations or via care organizations. To figure out our options, one research team from the Instituut voor Commercieel Management mulled over all the options, and presented their advice on how to move forward.
In Rotterdam 07 2018
2Tango was given a significant grant to research & build the 2Tango.Work project for digitally assisted work-related communication, via the Citylab project of the municipality of Rotterdam, the homebase of our main office at the Science Tower.
In Rotterdam 07 2018
Devdays, short for Developer Day, are held monthly in either 2Tango or Neurodiversity Foundation. Its a day where all developers and contributors to the technical project come together, to talk code en structure data. It started out small, and grows in size when the need for it reveals herself.
Online & Local 07 2018
Because our ambitions of the ATHENS Initiative are bold, and our resolve unwavering, the founders ‘make friends’ with large companies, organizations, schools, and fellow neurodivergents. Organizations we visit, we usually call our friends. We aim to visit all organizations in the Netherlands that have 200+ workers in their employment (within the context of the likelyhood that a part of these workers are neurodivergents). Some of these friendship leads to receiving unexpected support, in advice, a introduction, invitation and so on. We are very grateful for what is given to us as a gift, without a need for reciprocation. And we will continue to accept that, until we are done with our big goals.
And this works. For all parties involved. Because the problem we aim to solve, is present in every major organization, and fixing it, means enabling potentially succesfull people to thrive, also in their jobs. And we want to help autistics and neurodivergents keep their job, and feel safe in their work-related communication: there is a clear logic as to why organizations enjoy working with us and vice versa. But also, let this be said and stated clearly: there are simply a very large sum of very good and kind people, who use their smarts or compassion to understand why we are doing what we do, and chose to support us in ways we could not have imagined.
In Nederland 06 2018
On the 18th of June 2018, the Neurodiversity Pride Day was celebrated. The Neurodiversity foundation hosted the events, to support the neurodiversity movement & its sympathizers in the Netherlands.
It was also the very first day we got our Tshirts, designed by Eleonora Spanuolo. It shows our logo; the brain with the heart in mind.
In Amsterdam 07 2018
We needed a bright mind to create our core visual works. While many artists & student groups can support us with their ideas, it was Eleonora Spaguolo who generates things of beauty for the foundation. Her most important work is the Brain with the Heart in Mind (the logo), but also Brainy (and Superbrainy!), the faded rainbow, the clothing, the support cards, the My Amazing Brain magazine and the Neurodiversity Pride day materials are all visually composed and imagineered in her mind, and created with love, and lots of coffee.
In Den Haag 05 2018
Winning the Big Pitch and getting the funds to start up and finance parts of our research efforts.
In Amsterdam 02 2018
The foundation has three board meetings each year. On these days, Tjerk & Omotola report about everything relevant to the ATHENS Initiative, and the foundation specifically. We have wonderful board members, we are very lucky to be working with them.
In Buiten-Veldert 03 2018
One of our first developers Wybe, has allways been dedicated solely to the 2Tango Together project. He aims to build a digital tool to allow activity matching of two individuals via customizable menu’s, and will continue the work to also support family-based activity matching. Starting at 2Tango organization for over 8 months, in December 2018, the foundation was grateful to give him a developer position in our team, focussing specifically on activity-matching. The prototypes will be tested on: http://2Tango.dating
In Amsterdam 02 2018
On the 15th of February 2018 the Neurodiversity Foundation was officially founded, with Lana Jelenjev as chairperson & Eleonora Spagnuolo as boardmember, and Tjerk as director.
In Den Haag 02 2018
ATHENS Initiative joins Merlijn Goldsack (Merlin Blue) and Saskia Buma (prikkelprofiel.nl) in a meeting with Lisa Westerveld, a politician in the Tweede Kamerlid of the Netherlands. She accepts our handed proposals for improving the ability to thrive for autistics, and states her wish to be a good friend to the mission. Some of our offers include Signs & Mini.AI, and a basic income for long term unemployed autistics. We accept that it may take years for this situation to be accepted by a majority.
In the years to follow, Lisa actually keeps her word, and speaks up to the parliament, multiple times, for issues concerning autistics, dyslectics and marginalized kids in general. Her voice is one of the few inspiring ones in politics, as she is trying to pave the way for a more inclusive society. Her efforts and proposals are most often not accepted by the majority, but being represented at all, is a seachange for our minority, and for all of us with neurological differences.
In Utrecht 02 2018
At Inspirator, the newest upcoming healthcare initiative represent themselves, and 2Tango gets a slot as on of the three keynote speakers. It leads to a fire-fuelled speech, encouraging new healthcare startups to be bold, brave and to convert their pain into love, as they will run into it, in their steps towards growth and innovation. Innovation that other unknown to them will need them to continue.
As Tjerk walks to the stage, he throws his microphone in a corner, and uses the full force of his voice to pervey the message of inclusion and courage in entrepreneurialism. ‘I wasn’t aware that I was going to do that’said Tjerk afterwards, ‘but when I talk about my mission, fear and tact dissapear, and my whole body takes over‘.
In Rotterdam 11 2017
Setting up the organizations 2Tango & Neurodiversity Foundation, as a startup needs some physical space to work, but being the first group of the Honours Program of Ece, we moved to an office that could house 30 developers. Months later, we are moved to locations more suitable to our actual needs, but the feeling of ‘now, we are officially a start up’ dawned on us first, in our first day at this office at the Science Tower in Rotterdam.
In this ‘third office’ the ideas of Abri, as visioneered by Omotola, are meshed with the concepts of Signs, and of the autistic support artificial intelligence we would start calling ‘Mini.AI’ in the years to come.
In Rotterdam 10 2017
A new research start to cover the issue of ‘dynamic understanding in real time’, starting with discussions on the concepts of what we would start to call: ‘The Constrained Infinite’ , resulting with the application of TM technology and the invention of our own Mini.AI. The technological projects aims to build the world first autistic life support system with Mini & Signs integrated. The ambitious project of the ATHENS Initiative will be run by our CTO Omotola Bolarin, who has a great knowledge on language and machine learning, and controls which research efforts and prototypes will be open sourced, and which elements are to be researched further before releasing it.
In Rotterdam 11 2017
After winning the Sustainable Healthcare Challenge, the team of early developers continue to learn new skills needed for the mission, in workshops, sessions and brainstorms. A new focus is Human Centred Design Thinking.
Tjerk graduates from the Amsterdam Centre of Entrepreneurship and the Erasmus Centre of Entrepreneurship.
In Nijmegen 10 2017
Showcasing our works to autistics results in them supporting our mission, ideas and vision. And understanding how they are rarely listened to, even when their opinion is asked, made a change in us. In 2017 the initiative decided to align themselves with the ASAN network, and its slogan ‘nothing about us without us’ and the call for an inclusive neurodiversity in society.
One of the problems we were struck by, in meeting many of our autistic brothers and sisters, was the realisation that our early stage prototypes of the autisme-friendly language Signs and how it could be used, were biased to solve communication problems specifically for individuals that used to be categorized as Asperger & PDDnos. It was this realization; that we were not helping all autistics, that wouldn’t leave us, and that we should not allow ourselves to take that easy road. It resulted to a pivot, to focus more and more on neurodiverse translation, and integrate new communication options usefull for individuals unable to use screens or complex technology. New ways to communicate were carried in the Swipes, Shakes & Morsecode functionalities. In this way we can translate between more types, taking a more inclusive stance in our approach.
Also, the preparations for the foundation, took a much more inclusive approach to serving all neurodivergents to thrive, with additional campaigns and schoolproject. The main technological project would remain focussed on solving the issue for autistics first, because we were the first to have a real shot at actually solving it.
In Rotterdam 10 2017
Our second office was small, and shared with Burg Foods, a startup creating cricket-based burgers. It seems humble and simple, but it was all we needed to start building our innovation and our growing organization.
In Apeldoorn 10 2017
“Dit is je uitnodiging….”
Tjerk presents 2Tango Signs for 400 healthcare professionals and invites them to join in solving the problem.
In Den Haag 09 2018
A new competition: Social Challenge against Loneliness, spearheaded by the KPN, has 2 winners, of which one is 2Tango. It is the first time the public hears about the grand plan of the ATHENS Initiative. The original concept of the logo was a tree, made by individuals, in diverse color coding.
The price was a chance to pitch for the funding we needed, and a education to school the founder Tjerk, to become a better business person. The education in entrepreneurialism is at the Erasmus Centre of Entrepreneurship in Rotterdam.
In Rotterdam 05 2017
In a competition with over 100 applicants, 2Tango takes the largest price of all, and wins the nation wide Challenge. It is indeed, our proudest moment up to that date. Our first developer Kees is our hero, as he build the first prototypes of the selfmanagement app. And the pricemoney of 3500 euro, as humble as it may seem, goes a very very long way into funding our daily costs. It also allows for the money needed, to forge a research centre, that will do all the research requiered to fulfill our mission. This research centre, will later be called the Neurodiversity Foundation, or ‘Stichting Neurodiversiteit’ in the local language.
Online 05 2017
We can be alone, or we can find the smartest or kindest friends out there, and we are doing that continually. Every month we are adding new friends to our: “Awesome autism organizations” list. Specifically we are connected to ASAN (autistic self advocacy network), and think in the same ways. We also cooperate with Ed Wiley Autism centre; We want to bring the neurodivergent narwhal to the Netherlands, and Europe at large. The list is long, and welcoming more ‘friends’, that support the logic of ‘nothing about us without us’.
The reasoning for forming or attaching ourselves to global networks, derives from the need for autistics and neurodivergents alike, to protect themselves against the onslaught of a society that has not made ABA illegal yet. Even while 81% of autistics suffer PTSS from it.
Together, as autistics, we will be able to change that, and to do so, we must speak clearly and form a united front against the ‘blue puzzle piece’ and the intensely cruel ‘autism-conversion therapy’ it supports. Lets safeguard the next generations from PTSS. Not with anger, but with political proposals.
In Nederland 04 2017
The 2Tango organization is build upon 7 insights, that are constantly being tested in events focussed on connecting two individuals to upgrade their time together. Each 2Tango event is a test for a new iteration of ‘the perfect system’, trying out new applications, activities, strategies and user-experiences. All insights need to be tested, in order to be validated for that system, and checked for interpretation by different types of participants. It results in about a thousand of participants spending time with each other, in the way they both choose to do so, within the context that feels fitting for the pair. Most of the insights are focussed on reducing awkwardness and friction in connecting, needs-matching and mutual consent. More information on these connections events and its prototypes, go to 2Tango.org for more information.
Its together research program focusses on different types of connection made between strangers, fellows, friends, romantic dates. The net for which types of human interactions we can facilitate grows wider with every test. Lessons learned are integrated into the blue-prints of the digital tools for the 2Tango.Together project that we build, in order to provide the public access to these systems.
2Tango.Walkie talkie prototype event
In Amsterdam 04 2017
The logo of our communication infrastructure Signs is inspired by an image*, that illustrates communication struggles in an elegant way.
In Amsterdam 04 2017
The neurodiverse team of Fons, Tjerk, Aleksandr and Dennis decide to call themselves ‘Divergents’, and join a governmental hackathon, to figure out why kids are failing at school. We hacked our way with data into one of the core issues in education: the limited ability of teachers to be aware of the neurological variance in their classrooms, as a indication as to why so many autistics aren’t doing well in this system. We found in the data sets proof that about 5000 neurodivergent (autistic) kids are ‘overlooked’ by teachers, and therefore often mislabelled as ‘bad kids’.
The team did not ‘win’in term of the first or second price, but we got the honorary mention, awarded with 500 euros and flowers.
Ideas are pitched to the municipality to reduce the problems at hand, but these ideas die slowly in the demotivating bureaucratic systems of the government.
This is the exact moment the aims and intents of the political arm of the ATHENS Initiative was formed.
In Apeldoorn 03 2017
The first prototypes of the ‘tapping’ functionality of the Signs language, are forged by developer Kees. Made in java, it is focussed on self-reporting and autism-friendly styled sentence formation. The prototype works, and is fairly effective, but is not ‘dynamic’ in its tracking. To be used by millions this needs to be improved, and part of it is because it doesn’t learn quickly enough from what the individual user needs, before the need for communication arises in a situation. The teams grows in size to tackle this problem.
Later in the research effort, we investigate different types of individuals with ASS, TOS, and neurological variances that lead to limited speech. We pivot in our small group of Signs-users to a wider net, and completely overhaul our system, as to include other neurodivergent groups that could really use the technology we are building. The main focus remains autisme-friendly communication, but over time we understand that we can help more persons, with issues in communication that seem similar to issues autistics face daily.
In Apeldoorn 11 2016
2Tango meets with Danny Beukers to pitch the 2Tango.Signs selfmanagement-app for autistic communication. He had set up Authentict, a organization for autistics to be able to work in harmony. One of the programmers, Kees Heil, is very curious about the project, and wishes to code it. He was supported by Peter and Maryse, but Kees was doing all the work.
This was a very important moment for 2Tango, because in Kees we had the support that we needed to move forward with the 2Tango Signs project. The cooperation with Kees was so nice, that he came to be a stable force in our organization, and drafted many important functions for Signs. Authentict bankrupted months after, having lots of goodwill, and lots of people clapping at this inspiring initiative, all wanting this organization to be successful, but still holding out on lucrative assignments that could allow for the organization to pay for its bills. Goodwill, Danny said, will not pay for the bills, you have to do better.
The bankrupcy of his first partner and rolemodel, left a stark impression on Tjerk; to make in the preparations of the ATHENS Initiative absolutely sure to discover a way for the product to be financially viable in the market, and safe while producing, for we would be building the tech, for the years to come.
In Utrecht 04 2016
To connect female & male developers more optimally, 2Tango organizes ‘Offline – 2Tango connectzone’ in the main stage of the Utrecht Jaarbeurs, on request of a technology conference. The program consists of lots of new activities, and the new prototype for the ‘Meta Clock’, utilizing the main stages biggest screen, for 40 individual countdown-counters, one for each date.
Team of the day is Tjerk, Jori, Egbert and Klazien.
In Hierden 09 2015
One of the very first ‘zone’ events in our history; a “dating & friendzone” activity night, inspired by the concepts and guidelines of the 2Tango together project. Its the live version aiming to create the perfect system to facilitate two individuals spending time together. Its also a testing ground for new concepts and iterations.
Elma & Tjerk facilitated at the first ‘2tango balie’, resulting in 40 dates of 2 persons in 2 hours, with a massive 12 options on the menu.
In Nederland 01 2015
Core statement of the Assistive Tech Hub Enhancing a Neurodiverse Society (ATHENS Initiative): The problem is not solved by doing nothing. *
The plan we enact has three phases:
- 1. Build something that works to solve* the problem of neurodiverse translation.
- 2. Distribute the system to facilitate conversations of 10.000 dutch autistics, in Dutch language & English translated via Signs.
- 3. Scale up to a global service to support access to the tools for 10 million neurodivergents, in most languages and cross languages**
* Solving means: campaigning for awareness is nice, but not enough to actually solve the problem. Acceptance alone, is not enough. Appreciation alone, is not enough. We need to actually forge a product that reduces the communication issues for autistics, and our best shot at this, is a technical solution, that can be scaled and used by autistics for all nations. To be effective, the research of phase 1, remains in english and dutch.
** We are a idealistic initiative, by neurodivergents, for neurodivergents, supporting neurodiverse teams; therefore we aim to make it free for all autistics unable to contribute financially; because solving the problem, does not mean only solving it for ‘rich folks’. The goals of the ATHENS Initiative are non-financial, and focussed on the impact goals as stated.
Founding partners of the ATHENS Initiative
For the initiative to be effective, we need a long-term approach with a ‘research-centre’ and a ‘product-building-centre’.
- Neurodiversity Foundation is founded to do all the research, cooperate with partners, and support the societal change to acceptance, appreciation and inclusion.
- 2Tango, as a social impact company, will dedicate itself* to creating the products that solve the problem in neurodiverse translation, and support the builds of tools that can help autistics thrive in live.
ATHENS Initiative is offically starting in 2018, but it has been a project in the making since the very start of all we do.
* 85% of 2Tango’s resources and worktime is used for autism-centered support tools like Signs, Work & Mini.ai. The remaining 15% is used for the Together project, including testing of concepts via events.
screenshot of one of the earliest presentation decks for the ATHENS Initiative. The logo we currently use is the logo of the foundation (The Brain with the Heart in Mind).