Parents of children with autism often experience life as a matter of making it through each day. But no matter where we are in our journey with our child’s autism, we wonder what lies ahead for them as adults. Reports of children aging out of their special education programs and
support systems at school with no services to replace them tell us society can’t handle the current reality, much less what’s around the bend.
In the midst of these disconcerting facts, there are promising programs addressing the needs of adults with autism. Community farms where adults live and work growing organic foods provide a rewarding career close to nature. In the IT sector where individuals with autism frequently excel, a Danish entrepreneur has made a commitment to employ individuals on the spectrum in the global market.
Another exciting program is the nonPareil Institute in Plano, Texas, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to providing computer training to students on the autism spectrum. Their technology-based programs make use of artistic software, code generation, 3D animation studio tools, digital sound applications and other creativity enabling tools.
In a dedicated space at SMU (Southern Methodist University) in Plano, participants receive full-time instruction in creating new products for release to the general public, with projects targeting the PC and iPhone/iPad. The nonPareil plays to participants’ strengths, generating a sense of community, purpose and opportunity for them. A video on their website features a woman with autism who had consigned herself to a life of throwing newspapers. After finding NonPareil, she created a math app that is currently for sale on iTunes.
In the future nonPareil wants to have its own space and double the number of participants to two-hundred. Next on their agenda is expanding their facility to accommodate the lower-functioning and higher-functioning alike who wish to learn, work, play and live on-site.
Stories such as these let me know that there are people hard at work to meet the current and future needs of adults with autism, providing them a place where they can thrive both personally and professionally while benefiting society at large. That nonPareil intends to eventually provide housing and include both higher and lower functioning individuals is icing on a quite magnificent cake.
For more info, visit http://www.npitx.org.