New Nonprofit Supports Autistic Adults

nonPareil trains autistic people to develop technological skills

By Bruce Felps
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 2:41 PM CDT
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BERLIN - FEBRUARY 23: The photographer holds an iPhone at a shop of German telecommunications provider Deutsche Telekom on February 23, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Deutsche Telekom is to present its financial results for 2009 on February 25. (Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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Autism and technology, as in computer games, seem to go together.

According to the founders of the nonPareil Institute, which provides technical training to students who have been diagnosed with autism, autistic people often possess “superior technical abilities. They enjoy and excel at video games, the computer, and other interactive media,” yet unemployment rates among their numbers hover at about 95 percent.

The institute founders — Dan Selec and Gary Moore, both parents of children on the autism spectrum — established nonPareil to take those computer abilities and turn them into paying gigs by creating iPhone and iPad apps, for example, and they recently nailed a $200,000 grant from an anonymous donor. They used to money to create a training center on the SMU-in-Plano campus.

The first commercial product, an iPhone app — which I believe stands for “application,” although we're not allowed to speak in full words anymore — comes out within a month or two. Then it’s on to the assembly line to churn out iApps and computer games and such to help fund the institute as it expands from just training to housing and work environments for autistic adults.

Maybe one of the students can show me how to use the computer without whining about it when it does something stupid, and yes, it's always the computer that's stupid.

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times, an online community news outlet serving the White Rock Lake area. He refuses to make jokes about the physical, mental, or developmental conditions of others unless, of course, they’re funny.
 

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