Education News

Nonprofit Trains Autistic Adults For High-Tech Jobs, Expands To Houston

NonPareili helps train young adults on the autism spectrum for jobs in the tech field, and they’re bringing their newest campus to Houston.

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Photograph of plans of the future nonPareil Houston campus. The 7,700 square-foot facility is expected to open this spring. Click to enlarge

 

Young adults on the autism spectrum face many obstacles in the job market. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 90 percent of autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed.

Norris Fergeson spent many nights searching the internet trying to find resources for her daughter. Twenty-six-year-old Katie has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, and her mother worried about her future.

“Where would she live?” Fergeson said. “How would she live? Who would take care of her, because even though she’s very bright, she really struggles socially.”

Fergeson found an answer in nonPareil, a nonprofit institute that trains adults with autism in technology. Students have designed mobile apps, video games and even published eBooks. nonPareil has 150 students enrolled at its Plano campus and is fundraising to open a second location in Houston.

It’s not the first group to offer this kind of technical training, but it’s innovative in its college campus-like feel, and students take one class at a time, working at their own pace. Cofounder Gary Moore said they aim to teach students life skills and help them tap into subjects they excel at.

“[We] just try to give them a lot of love, care and support, and then they tend to just blossom,” Moore said.

NonPareil Houston is expected to open in spring 2015. 

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Tomeka Weatherspoon

Senior Producer

Tomeka Weatherspoon is an Emmy-award winning producer. She produces segments, the weekly television program Arts InSight, the short film showcase The Territory and a forthcoming digital series on innovation. Originally from the Midwest, Tomeka studied convergence journalism from the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri. She has...

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