Our Story

It all started at a school.

Carolyn was working with autistic students as a Speech Language Pathologist. She was tasked with teaching them social communication skills. She set out to find a neurodivergent-affirming program that was well-researched and that celebrated the individual and built a positive self-image.

She couldn't quite find the right fit. So she started building her own.

After several iterations, she had a formula that worked. The only problem was that there was only one of her and many, many adolescents that needed help. She needed to scale.

She and Lisa joined forces and built a web app that could deliver this knowledge to empower future generations. And the rest...is the history we're building right now.

two anime boys

We're Different!

Unlike most programs built to help neurodivergent students, Social Optics is built on the trauma-response model.

Life is unpredictable. Instead of teaching discrete skills, we empower teens with a framework they can apply to any situation. This develops critical thinking and shows students they can make choices just like everyone else around them. This also prepares them to face new situations with confidence because we can't predict every decision or situation that each individual will be faced with.

A bonus of our approach is that it can not only be used to help neurodivergent teenagers, but the framework can help all teens as they develop into adults and figure out who they are.

Meet Our Leaders

We are driven to make a positive impact for students, teachers, district administrators, and parents. We're here to enable teens to make choices that will lead them to the outcomes they want, so they can live their best lives.
  • Carolyn Long
    Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer
    Carolyn has 22 years experience working with autistic individuals and their families in schools and private clinics. She is an expert in neurodivergence, trauma-informed practices, and turning research into actionable steps for diverse learners.
  • Lisa Litherland
    Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
    Lisa has 21 years experience in technology sales, leading teams, and growing businesses. This includes building from scratch as a corporate entrepreneur and selling at Zoom during their hypergrowth pandemic era.
  • Hashim Hayat
    Tech Lead
    Hashim is a 2x founder. He is a full-stack engineer and previously built engineering projects for Very Good Ventures - the top Flutter agency. Notable work includes the Hamilton musical app - the first commercial Flutter app.


  • Karlo Young
    Karlo supports the full span of education: pre-K to gray. He is currently SVP of Partnerships and Portfolio GM of 2U. He is also Board Member for Gilman School (GBALI) and the Baltimore Education Scholarship Trust. His investment banking experience adds invaluable perspective.
  • Arsen Ghazaryan
    Arsen is a one-man SWAT team for tech. With 21 years of software engineering experience, and a focus on EdTech, he has finely-tuned attention to detail and operates with precision.