The popular Turning Point program returns this winter to teach job preparation and employment skills and train job seekers on the autism spectrum in how to be paid and competitive in employment. Participants receive classroom-based instruction and training, with the possibility of mock hands-on training and internships.
Since 2012, Naperville’s Turning Point has provided employment training programs to help young people with autism find employment.
Dozens of trainees work for local businesses such as Walgreens, OfficeMax, Calamos, Crate & Barrel, Sharing Connections and Made to Inspire Cafe. The program evolved significantly during the pandemic, but he was still able to train 21 people.
“Approximately 66% of adults with autism are unemployed. Turning Point knows that the right support and connections can break down barriers,” said Executive Director Carrie Provenzale. “We have seen countless adults succeed in the workplace. People with autism are loyal and reliable employees.”
The next cohort will start on February 7th. Classes are held Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, optionally followed by social time.
The three-month program is taught by special education teachers and supported by best-practice interventions that Turning Pointe utilizes throughout the program.
Skills covered include teamwork, communication, problem solving, professionalism, resume writing, job seeking and interview skills. Following her first six weeks in the classroom, students undergo her six weeks of mock training in retail stores and cafes in realistic settings on campus.
A graduate of the employment training program, Tarek Fayomi now works at the Hotel Arista in Naperville while building a career as a freelance film critic and a regular columnist in a local monthly newspaper.
“This program has prepared me for the world of work by reminding me of consistency and positive mental health,” he says. However, over time, many mentors in the program encouraged me to improve my mindset, become more diligent, and stay focused on completing important tasks at all times. Now I’m Houseman at Arista.I oversee the cleanliness of the hotel areas.It’s the job I always stand for.I like it because it keeps me active I love it…of the tasks I handle on a daily basis.”
Fayoumi believes the skills and emotional development she gains through this program will help her advance her career as a film critic, hone her work, attend screenings, and meet publication and blogging deadlines. .
“I have tried to dedicate myself to writing movie reviews in my craft.I am now the creator and lead critic of my site MovieswithTarek.com.Positively Naperville and Medium.com Contributing and full member of Chicago Indie Critics,” he offers. “Turning Pointe motivated me to come out of my shell and prove what I can really do with my words and my love of cinema.”
Walgreens Store Manager and Recruiter Joe Fabian has worked with many Turning Pointe Employment Training Program students and alumni.
“Turning points help create once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” he says. “I am proud to work with them and support their efforts!”
For more information about the Turning Pointe Autism Foundations Employment Training Program, please visit turningpointeautismfoundation.org/employment-training-program/ or contact Mary Butler at (630) 615-6036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.