Nancy Nowell grew up with a cousin who had profound intellectual disabilities, this experience resulted in a 10-year career working with adolescents and adults who are on the autism spectrum or have intellectual disabilities. While volunteering at a self-advocacy organization for people with intellectual disabilities, Nancy learned firsthand of the high incidence of sexual assault experienced by people with disabilities.
- To increase the ability of adolescents and adults with cognitive disabilities to have friendship, romance, and love in their lives.
- To reduce the risk of sexual abuse and contact with the criminal justice system.
- To develop informative and interesting videos and interactive lessons designed for adolescents and adults.
Social Signals Company Profile
Social Signals was founded in 2009 with the mission of developing quality educational materials that teach relationship skills to people who learn differently.
- 2009 — Four educational videos were written and filmed.
- 2011 — The first DVD and related curriculum, Mike’s Crush, was completed.
- 2012 — A family version of the Mike’s Crush DVD and curriculum was completed.
Adolescents and young adults with disabilities want and need friendships and romantic relationships, just like their peers. Many don’t have the skills to develop these relationships without support. This may lead to isolation, bullying, or sexual abuse, or for being arrested as the result of an unintended but serious social sexual infraction.
These negative consequences can be reduced by teaching skills that are specific to the needs of this group of adolescents and adults. Learning healthy relationship skills can improve their safety and quality of life.
Nancy Nowell, MPA, MEd, CSE
Certified Sexuality Educator
After graduating with a degree in human sexuality education from Widener University in 2002, Nancy obtained additional training in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), consent, functional behavior analysis (FBA), problematic/sex-offending behavior, and supporting victims of sexual assault.
Over the course of Nancy’s career, she has worked with a wide range of people who have disabilities — from infants through adults, in residential and school settings, with families and self-advocates.
- Over 10 years of working with children, adolescents, and adults who are on the autism spectrum, or have learning or intellectual disabilities (formally called mental retardation).
- Bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW 1973), master’s degree in public administration (MPA 1982), and master’s degree in human sexuality education (MEd 2002).
- Certified sexuality educator (CSE 2012).
- Currently teaching in 25 classrooms across the Philadelphia area.
- Nine years of teaching middle school and high school students who have autism, Asperger’s, or intellectual disabilities about puberty, boundaries, relationships, understanding the body, sexual abuse risk reduction, relationship rules, and laws.
- 2007 Emerging Professional Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.
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