Our Origin Story (2007)
Chris Dudick started what is now SILAS, as a makers studio in Monmouth County for children to learn Audio/Visual and Technology in after school and summer programs. Within the first few months of running the program, it became evident that many children in the program had special needs or were on the spectrum.
"These students loved the technology and were highly skilled in using it, but needed support when it came to working and interacting with other students and staff."
This AHA MOMENT was the impetus for SILAS Solutions.
Chris wondered if there was a way to take their love of technology and use it to improve their social and emotional learning. He reached out to Bernadette Mullen, a speech language pathologist, to run the idea by her. She was in! Together they set out to create a technology-based social skills class.
Birth of an Avatar (2008-2017)
These new tech-based social skills classes were a HIT! In the class, students would create characters and write a story about them. Through the writing process, Bernadette would give the characters social problems that they would have to navigate and learn from in the story.
Story lines included topics such as asking good questions, conflict resolution and interrupting. Chris would then record their voices in a sound booth and animate the story.
The process was fun, engaging, and gave students their own social stories to watch, rewatch, and learn from. After working on these cartoons for 10 years, Chris won an Emmy for Socially Conscious Cartoons.
Additionally, students’ parents and teachers were seeing the students’ socialization improve. Hundreds of animations later, Chris realized there must be a better way. Small Factory Innovations was founded and SiLAS was born.