My son who is on the Autism Spectrum has been a Crew Member at nonPareil since February 2014. non Pareil has done wonders for my son, he has opened up, taken more responsibility for his daily life and handling situations presented to him. Not to mention the computer, writing and life skills training he is receiving. The crew and staff at nonPareil are top notch in their daily dealings with the Crew Members!
I was a student at NPI a few years ago. The biggest complaint I have is I believe the company creates false hope for students hoping to break into software gaming development. The school is nothing more than day care for adults on the spectrum. Hardly any projects see the light of day and the ones that do aren't something most consumers would be interested in buying. If you actually make it pass the student level and become an employee you are most likely not going to be paid a living wage, even if you have a college degree.
One of my drawings which was of a character from an intellectual property I didn't own was sold without my consent. I never signed a contract that disclosed they could perform such an action, nor did I sign any contract at all for that matter.
A high ranking crew member once made a passing homophobic remark in my presence, assuming I wouldn't have an issue with it. I found it quite upsetting and unprofessional. For the record he has since left the company.
The school was also supposed to be secular based however I recall a time where they encouraged praying before we ate pizza for lunch. There was also a drawing of Jesus Christ on the wall in one of our work rooms. Which again I find to be inappropriate because this was not advertised as a Christian school.
There were students with incredibly unruly and obnoxious attitudes who would hurl insults and couldn't work well in a team. Yet some stayed for months on end when it was clear they weren't going to take this program seriously.
I write all this because I encourage any parent who might think this is a good school for their offspring to to think again. It's an absolute waste of time and money, there is almost zero chance they will see an artistic or financial success working with NPI.
When I visited nonPareil Institute in Plano, Texas seven years ago, I was looking for a safe place for my daughter Katie to explore her interests in technology. NonPareil has more than delivered, coming to Houston and setting up shop here almost 4 years ago. Katie is very happy. She used to be isolated for the most part, but now she is learning how to be a part of a community, how to be a friend and colleague and not incidentally, she is learning to write code and next, level design. She’s gone from being a very self-absorbed young lady to someone who is a good friend and capable of participating in group work. I am so impressed.
In Houston we have gone from serving an initial crew of about 25 to more than 85 at this point, and we have room for more as we added 9000 ft.² to our premises last December. We are fortunate in our dedicated staff of technologists, artists, educators and speech language pathologists focused on life skills training. There is no place like nonPareil In this country and we are so pleased to be part of the program.
Review from Guidestar
The CFO has spoiled her son at nonPareil to a ridiculous degree.
He has physically struck a neurotypical staff member, and was only suspended for 1 day. Other crew that have struck crew and threatened staff have been suspended for a week - if not expelled.
He has defecated on nonpareil property in front of other crew and assaulted some of the most impacted crew with flatulence and physical assault. A crew member more impacted than him lost bowel control in the bathroom, and was expelled - or as the management diplomatically prefer to say ‘asked to leave.’
The CFO’s son has yelled, screamed, cussed at, bear false witness against, and said ‘I hate you’ to both neurotypical and crew staff and volunteers alike. Other crew would be sent home immediately or have a parent talk for less disruptive antics.
When staff would notify management, the former and current CEO would lecture the staff more than the CFO’s son. The issue was money. Too bad I didn’t have a family member on the board, or maybe I could act like a self-absorbed prince too! Then I could benefit from nepotism first-hand.
I witnessed many crew that were as impacted as the CFO’s son - if not more so, and do things not half as bad on their worst day. They were severely punished. Then you have someone doing what could get other crew arrested, and he gets the proverbial slap on the wrist.
One of the worst cases of all was when another crew member who was devoid of just about any real friends threw a fit over an emotional episode, and was suspended for 2 weeks. He didn’t even assault anyone. He has an unsupportive family. He was among those who needed nonpareil the most. They gave him penalties that they should have given the CFO’s son; but now he’s going nowhere in life.
The son has gone increasingly absent from activity in the Plano office in recent years. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him working with dedication on something without guidance. That doesn’t sound like much progress to me. You would think that with such influence, and proclivity to indulge, the CFO would be able to manipulate the company to steering her son towards more productivity.
There have been several female crew members, who were energetic to be part of the nonpareil program and made an effort to diligently learn and work on self improvement daily. Although they did antagonize others, as the son of the CFO does regularly, they were reprimanded and punished in a much greater degree in comparison to the son of the CFO, who is less than apathetic, when it comes to learning new skills at nonpareil.
This is a perfect example of inequality in the workplace, plain and simple.
The supposedly “official” formal decision in 2010 by the nonpareil board to not discriminate, seems to be having little effect for these female crew members. Smoke and mirrors?
This review is untrue & malicious. While we zealously protect the privacy of our crew members, the viciousness of the “reviewer’s” false & defamatory statements compel us to respond with the truth. We have no record of anyone named Edward Hewitt ever being associated with nP. This crew member has never hit a staff member or defecated in front of other crew members. nonPareil has a Code of Conduct that has been strictly adhered to by everyone, including this crew member. nonPareil deals with each client’s situation in a personal & private manner. The CFO is a long-term volunteer. As the parent, she clearly knows more about the progress of her son than would this review writer. Issues concerning attendance are strictly matters between the Crew member, family and nonPareil. We invite this reviewer, as with anyone, to address issues directly with the management staff, including the CEO.
Having a sense of belonging means so much. nP Institute provides a community and an opportunity to belong and can be a great match for certain young adults. The staff is warm and caring and strives to find various ways to best support and help young adults succeed.
The transition to adulthood is hard enough but adults like my brother need advocacy and accommodations which are not as easy to come by after you graduate high school. As a college alumni, I can speak to the accommodations that were provided to former students in my class that were on the spectrum. They were only provided with notes taken by other students and had a time extension on exams. If you need tutoring, you need to be able to communicate what help you need. For many on the autism spectrum, the biggest challenge is communication. My brother tried community college and got extremely frustated when he couldn’t keep up with the class and the professor would not hold up the rest of the students to give the attention my brother needed. NonPareil is establishing a bridge to employment by offering technical training courses with a curriculum tailored to adults on the spectrum unlike any other school or university at an affordable price and focuses on marketable technology skills to improve professional development. NonPareil focuses not only on technology but also on soft skills to enable members to collaborate effectively and have confidence in job interviews. It’s a great organization that will give members an opportunity to make friends and enhance skills that can be added to a resume which will make them more employable.
nonPareil is an outstanding institute that provides a great opportunity for those diagnosed with autism. I have seen first hand how dedicated the faculty is to their students and they constantly go above and beyond what’s expected.
My brother is a crew member at the location in Orlando and the joy he has from attending nonPareil is tangible!!! He has developed skills in design in a matter of weeks that blow my mind, I already attempted to play a computer game he developed and it was one of the most challenging and engaging computer games I’ve ever played. nonPareil provides not only a place for those that have been cast out from the world to develop their skills in technology and creativity, it also gives them a family and is run by people who truly care about each student. I’m very thankful to have something like this for adults on the spectrum!
I have been a supporter and doner of non-Pareil for a very long time and cannot say enough about the wondeful work they do. Their tireless work and commitment to what they do is outstanding! It is hard to imagine a world without a place like this that provides so much genuine support, care and opportunites to the these wonderful indiviuals on the spectrum! Providing them a place they can truly grow and learn. No wonder they are so loved and appreciated by so many across the country!
I have been a volunteer, parent and board member for nonPareil for 9 years. As such, I am in a position to know exactly what goes on at nP...and no one can accuse me of having a monetary interest.
Like any healthy organization, nonPareil operates from a mission statement, but has also made strategic decisions over time in response to market forces and opportunities. The video game industry has become fiercely competitive with new games coming out with multimillion dollar marketing campaigns. Corporations have become more interested in hiring adults with autism...or providing work opportunities to adults with autism. We have seen more adults with autism interested in work and more of their parents interested in outcomes which include work.
So yes, nonPareil still teaches video game technology...but nonPareil is NOT primarily a video game studio. The beauty of teaching this technology is that game or app development requires teamwork and project management- important vocational skills that are applicable in any type of work or living environment. Whether you come to nonPareil for a limited amount of time or stay for the long run, you will learn skills that can help in everyday living and working in the community.
nonPareil still puts out new video games every year. nonPareil has begun developing apps under contract for other businesses. nonPareil is currently piloting a program in Houston the will qualify participants for Google IT certifications that can lead to jobs in helpdesk, network, programming and more. This will be rolled out in other locations in the near future.
Yes, some Plano staff have left...and others have been hired. New hires have also occurred in Houston, Austin and Orlando. Our resident 'expert' in a particular technology, who is involved with curriculum development and oversight in his/her specialty, may be in a different city. With today's technology, it is easy for people in different locations to work together. That makes the entire organization more dynamic.
Several folks who have left...some, more than 1 or 2 years ago - have chosen to write negative reviews, essentially saying that nonPareil is not like it used to be. What they do not realize is that it is now better! There are more tech courses, more social engagement opportunities, more CORE courses focused on vocational readiness and independent living. There are more job opportunities - we have added at least 20 more adults with autism to the payroll in 2019 alone, all above minimum wage.
I have watched my own son with autism develop at nonPareil. I've known many Crewmembers for years. I see the difference from the first time they nervously attend to the confidence they develop over time. nonPareil changes lives for the better.
More than 50,000 children with autism finish school every year. We are delighted to see so many organizations starting to address the needs of adults with autism. The need is great. I, and others, will continue build better futures for adults with autism at nonPareil Institute.
My husband and I enrolled our daughter at the NonPareil Institute in 2011. We entrusted her into the care and training of the Institute, and they have done amazing work with our daughter; she has positively blossomed, and I attribute much of that growth to her time at the NonPareil Institute. Nonpareil is a “safe space”, where our daughter can be herself without regard to how she may appear to others. Autism is such a complex developmental disability; it manifests in so many different ways and in so many different gradations. Raising a child with Autism has proven to be one of our greatest challenges, if not the greatest. To find a place dedicated to working with adults on the Autism Spectrum, with so many iterations and functional levels, is beyond remarkable. It is inspiring that the NonPareil Institute has taken on such a monumental challenge, to ameliorate the projected outcomes for so many impacted adults. I applaud their good work, and support them in every way that I can.
I admit to being quite nonplussed by the negative reviews that I see posted here, online. I have spent a great deal of time at the Institute, and I have never witnessed discord or discontent by anyone there, staff or crew member. I realize that everything may not have been perfect, but it was not fraught, and everyone was always purposeful and working through their various duties. If you know anything about Autism, you know that you cannot be as close to its expression as the staff at NonPareil, simply for the sake of money. It’s too all encompassing, it requires so much more than just one’s energy. It requires the heart and soul of every individual who works there, and labors, instructs and guides crew members; who serve as mentors, and resources, and places of trust and respite for our young adults. You simply cannot please all the people all the time, but I cannot help wondering if the many negative reviews are an attempt to defame this wonderful organization, and diminish their impact in the community. If this is a case of “Review Bombing”, or another such malicious attack, I say, “shame”. I know that the door to NonPareil has always been open to us as parents, that there has always been transparency in what they do toward the achievement of the goals of the organization and for our daughter, that we have been apprised of every change to our daughter’s program prior to implementation, that we have been given the opportunity to engage with staff if we desire, and we are unaware of any lie, myth, or subterfuge that has been perpetrated by NonPareil or its staff. It pangs me to read the accusations and negative reviews that have been posted when our daughter has benefitted so greatly from the program.
Please allow this review to counterbalance the negative reviews.
Look beyond the 5 star reviews...
The President/CEO has carried on a quiet campaign to gut the technology component and staff while still selling the programs to donors and parents as nothing has changed. While it is true that the games have not sold and little revenue is seen for sales, the blame can rest solely on him for not getting any marketing or serious development people in the right places. Fundraising has been an abysmal failure at every turn, as competing programs like My Possibilities and 29 acres has rocketed passed nonPareil in the last few years. No one of real depth has been hired to seriously push the program. This no doubt has a purpose. He wants no one there to question how scripted and stupid his approach is. He is bereft of any ability to manage a schedule much less the staff around him who he antagonizes to belligerence on a daily basis.
This same President/CEO is currently in the middle of a complete staff turnover seeing some 15+ employees leave in the last 2 years. And what is the answer to this? Hiring those on the spectrum to replace them. This sounds great in theory and practice until you realize the real reasons why. Aspie staff are never paid competing wages with the neurotypical staff. Simply put, an aspie staff member will make on average 1/3 of the wage per hour as an equivalent neurotypical colleague. This is around $11 per hour. And it is hardly a livable wage. See the point here? They can be hired with much fanfare from parents and donors but in reality, it is only because they can be paid far less while making the company look good. Unfortunately, this is accepted because parents and Crew are desperate and naive. What is shocking is that the President/CEO is being paid nearly $170,000! This is publicly posted on the 990 form filed with the IRS and no parents say a word...they just keep writing tuition checks.
The Director of Operations, who manages the Crew and some of the day-to-day, is highly bureaucratic and incompetent, with no background in technology or business. He is petty and throttles the engagement of many Crew staff, excluding them from company Christmas parties and deceiving others leading them to believe they have a future career there. His only contribution is to be highly rehearsed and plastic, calling everyone a "subject matter expert" so as to not give away the realities of a business that is failing. But he has "skin in the game" as his son is employed with the program and is a Crew member. He apparently coerces subordinates behind the scenes to give his son more paid hours, regardless of merit.
The Chief Program Officer is hailed as a "dr" in a world of superficial degrees. He is yet another example of a failure to staff a company in desperate need of professionals to assist in the cognitive health of its clients. Do not let his slick, used car salesman demeanor belie his true intentions. He cares nothing for the Crew but only his self-advancement. He simply steals and repackages the ideas from those around him to make it appear he has anything to offer of actual value. Case in point is the ridiculous rollout of the new "program" which is based on quarters and is to be completed by the average Crew member is about 3 years. This model requires a curriculum so shallow and vapid it makes training at a McDonald's look rigorous. It has not even been completed before the new campuses came online recently. But he will run around pretending to be smart and take credit while using impressionable women who work for him to do any of his work. He is at best a low IQ womanizer with no real experience in management or psychology, aside from being a Chipotle barista...if you consider that a profession.
The technology component is quietly being phased out. It is only left to sell seats to the program and keep it open long enough to open another location with similar hopes to end in dashed dreams and manufactured false success. There is little doubt the games and digital releases will grind to a halt. Those who worked there who cared have all left or been run out. The board has been seeded with sycophants who will vote in lock step with the President/CEO's agenda. And that has one end: make those in in corporate a good living --- it was never about autism.
Our son started at Houston nonPareil in 2016. The staff was so warm and inviting and fun for him that he quickly felt part of a family. This is what we saw: His conversation increased; he insisted on attending every day; he made friends; he started talking to us more; he started talking to EVERYONE more, asking questions. Staff challenged him to be more organized and to participate. He felt safe and cared for. The staff is continually working on the program, adding new classes and groups and clubs. This is beyond anything we could have asked for or imagined. We thank God for nonPareil.
Our son is a "high functioning" adult on the autism spectrum. Even though he earned a college degree, can live fairly independently and is muti-talented, we were unable to envision a productive and secure future for him. He had been out of college for about 6 years and had little to no job experience, when we learned about nonParei Institute. Learning to code and develop video games just sounded ideal as he is passionate about them. Much to our surprise he fell in love with the program immediately and now see's it as a potential career path. Without a doubt, the staff at nonPareil "get it." The program is multi-dimensional, including a technical side and a social/life skills side. Both sides communicate with each other and work together to achieve optimal success. The crew members are able to follow and develop their strengths while gaining invaluable team building and social skills. Our son is now a part time staff member serving as a lab assistant. We could not be more pleased and very grateful that we found nonPareil!
Do you want to know the truth? Maybe you haven’t found other options, so you need to believe in the facade. If you really want to know the truth, look behind the curtain. Yes, it appears to be a place of hope for adults on the autism spectrum. However, after 7 years of teaching, project-managing, leading, mentoring, and advocating for the crew, I decided to leave the company after my eyes were opened to oppressive, self-serving, and dishonest behavior from leaders who refused to listen to anyone who challenged their decisions. Do you think it’s okay to exclude the Aspie staff from getting the button-down company shirts and name badges that all other staff members received? What about excluding them from weekly staff meetings? Should neurotypical staff be the only ones invited to company staff parties? Surely, a company claiming to “Build Better Futures for Adults on the Autism Spectrum” wouldn’t do these things! Oh, but they did!! Imagine the 2017 Staff Christmas Party held on-site during business hours, where only neurotypicals were invited. While the party was occurring in the Mos Eisley room, our Aspie colleagues could see us through the window! It broke my heart!!! Unfortunately, because the current CEO and his followers detested anyone who challenged their thinking, I had to be very careful until I found another job. If I had been financially secure, I would have quit on the spot! To be clear, prior to the party when I saw the email with the names of my Aspie colleagues missing, I approached the person responsible for taking menu orders. She emailed the Director of Operations to ask if they should be included, but he replied, “No, they are getting gift cards.” What?!!! Why are they being treated less than the neurotypical staff?!! In mid-January, after one of the excluded staff members shared his deep disappointment regarding all of the ways they were treated inferiorly, did I decide to risk losing my job. On 1/19/18 I spoke to the Director of Operations about the injustice and unrighteousness. When he tried to say that it was my responsibility to speak up prior to the party, I let him know that I not only did that, but that I also read his response denying them access to the party. (He knew that I was documenting everything.) The next day, I learned from my Aspie colleague that the Director of Operations apologized to him and the others and told them that the company would order shirts and name badges and start including them in the meetings. Why the sudden change??? You decide. Maybe the Director of Operations knew that nP was at-risk for lawsuits, or at least public outrage. As for me, having felt betrayed by those who present nothing more than a façade, I moved on to a positive work environment, while remaining in touch with some crew and colleagues. I can only imagine how those on the autism spectrum must feel. Do you think they feel valued and respected? Are they limited by a glass ceiling?
Additional questions should be asked about the integrity of the information provided to families. On the surface, Nonpareil appears successful, because presenting a positive spin on the data is what the Chief Program Officer is good at…not making meaningful connections with the crew or being an autism expert immediately after earning his degree. Maybe there are a lot of employment hours and reported success in terms of those who move on to college, other training, or jobs. However, if you separate the hours of the few full-time staff from part-time, and review the average number of hours for part-time employees, you will see a clearer story. Also, you need to understand that those part-timers continue to pay the full tuition, while the full-timers earn ridiculously low salaries. Even one autistic member of staff with a Masters in Computer Science was hired to work at nP at a salary that is near-impossible to support oneself…and that was 25% more than the former CEO wanted to offer, all while he and the current CEO were making big money! In my shock and dismay, I advocated for the higher pay, which was still way too low! After working there several years, he left nP for a position that earned several times the pay he was still making at nP. While Nonpareil may claim this as their program success, this autistic member of staff was never part of the crew. Not only that, drastically underpaying someone who has very marketable skills while filling executives’ pockets should never be considered success! It’s plain wrong!!
Further questions regarding the numbers which appear to indicate program success involve claiming success in situations where there was no real success. Apparently, the Chief Program Officer decided to count a success when a crew member left the program to either attend school or training, or to get a job, regardless of the job and regardless of the level of satisfaction of the crew member and family. For example, it was announced a success when someone returned to his part-time job at a fast-food restaurant after a couple of years in the technical program. Is that the kind of success that families are seeking? Another crew member who put forth very little effort during his 3+ years in the program left Nonpareil. When I asked him if he learned anything at Nonpareil, he said, “Yes! I’m now able to get a job that I’m too lazy to do!” (Yikes!) At the next staff meeting when it was announced that he was leaving, we were told that it was a success because he was leaving to go to culinary school. Really??! Ultimately, the numbers presented don't reveal the true story.
Throughout my years at Nonpareil, I spoke to the former CEO about the way the current CEO sold the program to families and set inaccurate expectations. It seemed as though he’d do anything to get money in the door. Then, when crew members and their parents became dissatisfied because their expectations weren’t being met, he’d point to the technical leaders who worked day in and day out with limited resources. It’s a shame that people have been misled! They need hope so they believe, until they realize the truth. Sometimes, the truth is hard and painful and requires change, but it’s better than living in a fantasy.
Notice that a number of the people writing positive reviews to this website are Board members, even though they all don’t identify themselves that way. I wonder if they know the truth about the leaders? Do they care? When I met with the Chairman of the Board before I left, I suggested that he reach out to former employees to ask what caused them to leave and what they thought of both the former CEO and the current CEO. As far as I know, he never did, but instead wanted to believe that everyone had the right heart. Hmmm? Maybe that’s what he wanted to believe. Maybe that's easier than dealing with the hard truth. I wonder what his son who is on the autism spectrum, but not part of Nonpareil, would think about the information I’m sharing. Would he care? Does anyone care???
I should’ve written this review sooner, but I was weary when I left that toxic place. Even though it would’ve been easier to simply walk away, I truly care about the autistic adults that I served for so long. I want them to have a voice…a real voice. Today, I’m speaking up for them, while risking backlash from the current CEO and his followers. If #ProgrammingHope or #DallasNews or one of the other news outlets would do a follow-up of their programs/articles and speak privately to individuals, the autistic adults could be heard. Do you want to know the truth? Do you care?
This is a story of stonewalling, discrimination, and nepotism.
I had previous experience that would have made me a leading candidate for lab or social room attendant duties. The leadership would have known that to some degree and never really approached me on their own accord until a certain time after "the pivot."
The Director of Operations at the Plano location asked me about whether I'd like to have some attendant hours. This happened close to the turnover of quite a few hired crew left the company. It was uncharacteristic of the Director to ask crew in person the way he did with me. Through gently questioning him, I read between the lines that they were in fairly big need of attendants. This is a unique problem given the many crew that would actively seek such a position.
After some thought, I confirmed my interest with this Director. He told me to contact someone who was at the time part of Program Engagement.
That's where the trouble began...
The young lady that I was instructed to contact was praised by another female member of Program Engagement in front of crew instructors as "great at getting back to people" or "often takes no more than a day." That wasn't exactly the case with me. If anything, I WAS the one who would be prompt with following up as I currently don't recall a single time (if she emailed me) that I didn't get back to her within a day or two. In contrast, she would frequently take from the better part of a week to roughly 2 1/2 weeks to respond to my emails! Our exchange was all regarding her progress on getting me paid attendant hours. And believe me, those on the spectrum typically don't get paid a lot here! It ended just 20 minutes before the day that the office would be closed for a holiday break. She talked about how there was nothing available and would "let me know" soon (she never did).
Since then, the young woman has left the company to work at another company that works with people who are on the spectrum. It is to my understanding that the difference between her starting pay at this new company and her ending pay at nonpareil institute is beyond what many paid crew make in a year (myself included)! The son of the Director of Operations has comfortably over 12 paid hours as an attendant per week. I later hear from my assigned advisor that the Director of Operations claimed (behind my back) that I didn't get those hours because "he took too long to email the Program Engagement contact back." I've never even been told how soon to email someone, yet I'm better with autism at emailing this woman back than she is despite her education and being neurotypical. I sincerely doubt this woman would be so late in responding to the Director, the CPO, or the CEO/President. If she ever has, then I would imagine she'd be talked to. Why am I punished and she's basically put in connection with a better, higher-paying job?!
That's stonewalling and nepotism.
The Director never told me these things and I have no knowledge if he even read the email exchange. Why didn't the Director confirm who took too long to get back to who? Logically there's a handful of things that happened. 2 of them is that either the former employee or the Director lied about me. In one of them, the Director slanders me. In another, the Director shows his incompetence in fact-checking. Or perhaps if an attractive neurotypical female tells him of alleged incompetence that it's damning enough where he figures the autistic staff member's word is not worth hearing.
That's called discrimination.
As a parent I have been so blessed to have my son living with autism be a part of this great orginization! He has gained skills that I never thought possible and the sense of community for him is wonderful! I am so grateful to have found this orginization for my son who was sitting in his bedroom alone playing video games. Thanks for all you do nP for my son!
I have been involved with nonPareil for the last 6 years both promoting the games developed by the crew and donating to the program. A close friend in the Special Needs program with Frisco Independent Schools introduced me to nonPareil. Her passion for the program ignited my own. There are many challenges for adults with autism once the support from public school ends, not the least is how to ensure they continue to grow and develop. My son with autism, has helped shape my understanding and desire to be involved with this program. nonPareil is not for all adults on the spectrum, and my son is not enrolled in the program, but he does support the objectives and goals. nonPareils’ program is designed to develop both commercially - viable technical skills and social skills. I am proud to be part of the team that is attempting to fill a significant vacuum in the community.
I was a crew member there for several years. During this time the President - now President & CEO - would ask me to do a variety of interpersonal tasks and jobs because of my relatively high social aptitude compared to many other crew members. With at least one of them, he clearly said that he would talk about paying me eventually - a talk that never came.
When crew members would complain, the President would give me very little guidance and constructive feedback, instead reporting to my parents - the main source of support. I felt like he was essentially blaming me for the very things he was telling me to do. When I would report to him, it would frequently take weeks for him to follow back with me. When I would ask him for what rules he wants put in place, he would say, "we'll take care of that soon" or something to that effect. It was very disenchanting for me to basically "play the bad cop" with crew that saw me more as a peer than an authority figure when the President would pay me little mind and no money.
Meanwhile, I continued to pay tuition (without discount) while working for free (frequently over 2 dozen hours a week) - having to rely on neurotypical staff already well-laden with their own burdens and dealing with the same headaches that the President has been historically guilty of causing. The tasks that he delegated to me greatly cut into my time that I could have spent focused on the technical skills I paid for and get my tuition money’s worth. My "job" - unlike being an instructor - didn't have any formal class, and I had to mostly teach myself how to handle many of the interpersonal tasks.
I honestly lost track of the hours I was never financially compensated for long ago...
From what I’ve heard, the new Director of the Plano office allegedly won’t let crew members work hours beyond what they’re paid to avoid some type of complaints for a government-run labor board. He was hired by the President (who is now also the CEO). I don’t quite understand why it was okay to allow unpaid hours from so many crew in years past; but now recently they suddenly worry about such complaints damaging the company?! The same President has been in position both before and after this was put in place.
This same President has been a part of nonpareil since they started hiring those on the autistic spectrum. The same President has also witnessed at least several crew members work more hours than they're paid while allowing to perpetuate the message that they'll one day "make more money" or "get more hours" at the company. The same President who has "stacked the deck in his favor" by filing the company's board with people he was either friends with before nonpareil, knew, or made deals with (that the former CEO allegedly hasn't). The same President who now has even more power with the former CEO and original neuro typical staff gone. The same President who replaced these ex-employees with relatively technology-illiterate sycophants taking their place. The same President who witnessed - and is far from innocent - of all these misfortunes (thus sharing responsibility and blame whether he'd like to or not). He knew they were going on and he had the lion’s share of power! The same President who points the finger at everyone else as the problem and never facing the "man in the mirror."
That same President now allows his Director to keep "the poor little aspies" from burdening themselves because "we care and we love you." I've lost track of how many times he's said, "I love you" and "I care about you" to someone he's lied to, broken promises with, and otherwise backstabbed. Perhaps he really just cares about the mass of quiet anger directed at the company he leads?! This man is indeed a parasitic charlatan!
Where was the concern for crew working extra hours for free years ago?! I guess maybe I should go to a government-run labor board then!
As a parent volunteer, I was fortunate enough to see first hand how this growing nonprofit loves on the young men and women they kindly call, "the crew." The amount of effort and compassion the staff deliver each and every day is astonishing. My son attends this amazing organization and was hired on as a part-time instructor. Dealing with autism as a parent is exhausting, but this staff go above and beyond every day for almost 220 individuals. My hat is off to nonPareil Institute!
I've been involved with nonPareil for five years, first as a donor, then volunteer, and now board member. I have great admiration for the people in this organization. They are committed to their mission "to build better futures for adults with autism". NonPareil's staff continues to learn, improve, and innovate while pursuing this mission. As they expand to new cities this year and in future years, I have no doubt their success will continue and grow, and they will help thousands of adults with autism reach their full potential.
The Chief Program Officer of nonpareil arrived very drunk and carrying a pack of beer, to one of nonPareil’s live improv performances.
These performances are hosted by the “Stomping Grounds Comedy Theatre”.
The theatre’s alcohol policy is BYOB, which is featured in the theatre’s “Buzzed: interactive Improv” show, which was held on March 16, 2019.
The show put on by nonpareil has performers on the Autism Spectrum, who are students of nonPareil.
It is not appropriate for the CPO to be drunk when he is at a nonPareil event with students.
nonPareil employees are focused on engaging with crew and families during public events. This particular venue does not sell alcoholic beverages. The accusations against staff are unfounded.
Our son attends nonPareil and learns not just a variety of technical skills, but also how to work in a team, how to communicate with others, time-management, and all those other soft-skills that employers expect. I'm aware of numerous student employment success stories, it just takes longer to get them there. The instructors and staff are amazing with their long hours, patience, and dedication. The gaming focus of the Institute is key because it motivates students, and without motivation, no learning takes place.
Extraordinary group of dedicated individuals who are providing a future for young adults with autism.
I have worked with many nonprofits over the years, but none as rewarding as my time spent with nonPareil. I've been a volunteer for several years now helping with anything from marketing efforts, events like the golf tournament fundraiser, to helping paint their ever-growing office in Plano. I've developed friendships with the crew and have seen their progress first-hand. It is truly an 'all hands on deck' work environment, and this expectation of their employees carries over into the classes where the crew learn different modules for game development. The crew is responsible for their own schedule which is great for learning self-reliance, and with instructors, crew members are held accountable for their schedule commitments. It's such a unique place and as a volunteer, I do whatever needs to be done because I believe in the cause.
The laughter and smiles I am greeted with each time I walk in the building are so refreshing and remind me how much of an impact this great company has on the many families involved in the nP community. It's an atmosphere of hope, support, friendship, and knowledge.
As in most cases, what you put in is what you get out. Working with individuals on the spectrum is a true calling that some later learn may not be for them, but for those who have their hearts open to it, you're in store for some of the most rewarding experiences in your life! My cousin, who has since passed, struggled with being on the spectrum, and I always wished he had an nP kind of community where he could just be himself and learn to communicate with peers.
They recently completed renovations in Plano and the new CORE break room keeps the crew focused on their classes and not spending too much time on break. These are exciting times for nonPareil and I can't wait to see where the new leadership team and new CEO/President, Gary, take this organization!
Review from Guidestar
On October 7, 2017, Nonpareil held a fundraiser to help support those on the autistic spectrum. During this event, the funding for a bus to transport the crew was raised in the form of some $50,000.
I can see how crucial this need is for many of those that attend Nonpareil, especially those that cannot drive. It was framed that the social events would be expanded and that more engagement would result. My question is, what is holding this up? These monies were fully funded over one and a half years ago. I imagine that those who have donated over the years are as equally frustrated as myself. This was pitched as a vital request and yet nothing has been done.
I have been patient with this organization as it is small and chronically understaffed. But this issue make me question whether the senior leadership can collectively do its job. This is no small sum of money generously given to help. What has become of these funds?
More importantly, what happens if the bus never shows up?
Proceeds from that fundraiser request – less than $50,000 – were never adequate to purchase a bus, provide maintenance and insurance for a bus and pay a driver for the bus. All who donated towards that proposed project have been contacted; nearly all have generously agreed to allow their donations to be moved to other, more vital needs. nonPareil has expanded social events considerably since 2017. Carpooling is almost always available to help Crewmembers participate.
The nonpareil institute in Plano has taken a Major Turn for the Worse...
It is very scary to think that it is the same place I enrolled my son, almost 8 years ago. From the very beginning he was super excited to be apart of the nonpareil institute and to get to make video games. As a parent, I thought the nonpareil institute was the place for him to have a successful adult life. He always did exceptionally well in school, but college was turning out to be too challenging to navigate.
Intelligence was not the issue, so I thought the nonpareil institute was the answer.
I was correct for many years.
In early 2018, there was a mandatory parent meeting. At this meeting one of the dads who started nonpareil, who is now the Ceo and President, said there was going to be a “pivot”. He also introduced the new Chief Program Officer. They both spoke of a coming change, but didn’t really say what that change would be. This “pivot” is what was probably the beginning of the end for my son’s time at the nonpareil institute.
He did great for many years learning and working with the past Art Director, past Head Level Designer, and past Programming Technical Director, whom all got forced out of the nonpareil institute, because of this “pivot”. He worked on multiple games and apps under their guidance. This gave him the confidence and the ability to make games, which was his dream. He called them the A-Team because they were like super heroes to him.
The past year has been very difficult for my son at the nonpareil institute.
Without the A-Team, he feels abandoned and constantly overlooked.
He asks for tasks to work on and to be included in projects, which are very similar tasks to those the Head Level Designer and the Programming Technical Director had assigned him previously.
On several occasions my son was told by one of the a game project leaders that they would love his help, as he is very capable in a couple of game making disciplines.
Then, unfortunately the next day the Director of Operations approached and informed him that he wasn’t permitted to work on the project, without providing an an explanation to my son.
So after a month of my son coming home emotionally wounded, I met with the President/Ceo and the Director of Operations.
They told me my son needed to move to a beginners course, which he had already taken years ago successfully. They did not really give my son or myself a choice, so I convinced him to give it a try. At my urging he has been trying the course for months now, but is bored by the lack of being challenged and he feels unwanted by the current staff.
Everyday he begs me to let him quit going to the nonpareil institute.
Sadly, I am at wits end with the nonpareil institute in Plano and I’m about to give him his wish.
My family used to love to tell everyone about the nonpareil institute.
Although, really we should have been telling everyone how much of a blessing the A-Team was for my son. Now they are gone and all of the joy and meaning for my son at the nonpareil institute left with them.
We are sorry you feel nonPareil has not met your expectations. 10 years ago, few companies were willing to hire adults with autism. nonPareil was founded on the idea that these adults could learn video game technology and create games to be marketed by nonPareil. Over time, more companies have been willing to hire adults with autism and/or partner with nonPareil to provide work opportunities. Crewmembers needed a more structured approach to learn workplace readiness skills. The “pivot” was to focus not only on developing adults with autism to work on video games, but also to work outside of nonPareil in technology and other industries. nonPareil has started to partner with companies that can outsource work to adults with autism who are part of the our program. In 2019 nonPareil is adding a vocational track to teach skills with the goal of Google IT certification of Crewmembers in this program. To-date, nonPareil has provided more than 140,000 hours of employment for adults with autism.
I volunteered in the social room of Nonpareil one summer. I have also participated in the fundraiser golf tournament and other Nonpareil events. I became emotionally connected to the beautiful goals and missions of Nonpareil. The purpose of providing gainful employment and a positive experience for adults on the autism spectrum is important and something that I wanted to contribute to in any way that I could. While following the non-profit as well as my observations of the actual day to day operations, I became disillusioned with the supposedly world changing company. Nonpareil publicly speaks encouragingly about the great abilities of adults on the autism spectrum and how they can find success by enrolling in Nonpareil. Nonpareil marketed the company as a place that would teach adults on the autism spectrum to work on projects as programmers, designers, writers, artists, 3D modelers and more. I saw firsthand the amazing abilities of these adults with special needs. I also saw their desire to work, produce, help one another, and broaden their social skills. Unfortunately, instead of these adults being engaged, encouraged, and given opportunities matching their capabilities, Nonpareil, too often, limited these talented young adults on the spectrum by denying their requests for learning new skills and working. In addition, Nonpareil used the social room as a place to keep the lower functioning autistic adults from disturbing the people Nonpareil deemed as more capable and worth investing time in. The social room could have been used as a place to build social skills and confidence in their social interactions, however there was nobody qualified to help with social skills. Instead, the main goal was to facilitate video game playing and avoid any major disturbances. So many more of these adults could contribute so much more if Nonpareil gave them the chance. What I do not understand is that I thought it was Nonpareil's mission to teach, encourage, and employ these adults on the autism spectrum by giving them a future. Unfortunately, Nonpareil is completely failing them. I would love to see the executives at Nonpareil help these talented adults on the autism spectrum and provide the employment that they need and deserve. I am hopeful for this to happen someday, but a change in leadership and operations is necessary.
To-date, nonPareil has provided over 140,000 hours of employment to adults with autism, with nearly 100 adults with autism having worked at nonPareil for some period of time. Thanks to new partnerships with outside corporations, nonPareil is now bringing in technology-related work so that more adults with autism than ever are now employed at nonPareil. nonPareil staff include a psychologist, a licensed professional counselor and several employees with extensive teaching and counseling backgrounds. This professional staff has helped nonPareil build a robust program of non-technical training in workplace readiness, social skills and communication skills to round out the technical program which was the origin of nonPareil. The social room is used not only as a place where Crewmembers can take a break, but also as a place where they can participate in structured social skills learning activities under guidance of professional staff.
The Executives at nonPareil are motivated by money and donations, helping adults on the autism spectrum is not their priority.
While having a close working relationship with the CEO, the CEO often casually said disconcerting remarks, which countered his fidelity to nonPareil and it’s mission statement.
For example, the CEO and I walked past a crew member, who routinely exhibited demeaning and insulting behavior to the other crew members. Several, crew members cried as a result of an interaction with this crew member. Historically, this behavior at nonPareil is not tolerated and can ultimately end in “expulsion”. The CEO proceeded to tell me,”‘this crew member’ has an elderly relative, who is going to eventually give nonPareil a very large donation.”. Intimating that, even though this crew member is problematic, we have to keep him here so we can get the “large donation”.
Also, The CEO once told me, “I bought myself this new sports car and I am going to give my son, who just learned to drive, my previous sports car.” Then following up by saying,
“nonPareil’s Board thought the CEO and The President were doing a good job, so they gave us raises this year.”
This is greatly contrasted by nonPareil’s lack of employment of and equal financial compensation for those who are on the Autism Spectrum. At the time of the CEO’s and President’s raises there were 150 crew members in total. Only 4 were full time employees and about 10 were part time employees.
The CEO and President motivate the crew, by the promise of a “job”. The expectation was, you have to work consistently 15+ hours a week without pay, in order to prove yourself. The length of time it takes to “prove yourself” could be anywhere from next month to its 4 years later and the executives are still promising them that “job”.
Also, the hourly wage is $10, regardless of the Autistic employees tasks. For the many highly skilled crew members, who want to become a full time employee, the CEO and President have told them individually and as a group that they definitely would love to hire them but nonPareil doesn’t have the money to.
All the while the CEO and President expect the crew to put in a full work week, if they want to eventually become a full time employee.
There are several part time employees at nonPareil, who have been consistently working 40+ hour weeks, since 2012.
That means they make $150 a week, working full time job hours. The resulting total yearly income adjusted for nonPareil breaks, would be about $6,900, which would equate to $3.5 per hour for a part time employee, who puts in the expected hours, based on the workload and assigned tasks.
Who is really making the money at a nonprofit for Autistic Adults to find employment?
Since 2013, nonPareil has employed 30 or more adults with autism every year. 2019 employment of adults with autism at nonPareil will be higher than ever. nonPareil has always paid above the minimum wage and has always had a variety of pay rates, depending on the particular job. New partnerships with outside companies are bringing additional work opportunities to adults with autism at nonPareil. In addition, in 2019 nonPareil is adding a vocational track which will give Crewmembers the opportunity to study towards Google IT certification in several technology fields. Founding CEO Dan Selec left nonPareil in 2018. Founding President Gary Moore took on the additional title of CEO after Selec left.
The Past CEO and and the Current President/CEO Co-Founders are extremely manipulative and unabashedly discriminate against the LGBTQ community.
Being privy to closed door conversations, I was told two abhorrent things by the CEO.
1. They tried to rehabilitate an Autistic Transgender woman, but “He” wasn’t willing to let them “mentor him”, so they would not hire “him”. But, the CEO said this Transgender Woman is now a member of a dangerous and powerful community, so we have to be very careful about how we handle homosexuals, because he might catch wind of it.
2. The CEO spoke to me and The Chief Technology Officer, about an openly gay computer programmer on the Autism Spectrum at nonPareil. The CEO said “We cannot make him leave but we can make him want to leave so it is his idea.”
This is 100% the discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.
The Board of nonPareil Institute passed a nondiscrimination policy in 2010. nonPareil adheres to that policy in hiring as well as admittance and support of adults with autism to its program.
Review from Guidestar
They are not who they say they are. They literally put garbage into crew members (the ones on the spectrum) and just walk away. They treat them as if they don’t have a brain and the management is so poor. nP could have been something, something big, but they are doing everything wrong. They underpay all the staff, spectrum and neurotypical, and hide it in between the lines in the books. There is also a huge discrimination issue at nP. They underestimate the crew and they treat them like toddlers. nP corporate staff do not treat the crew like equals.
More than 2/3’s of the adults with autism who have left nonPareil after 3 or more years either found employment or were able to further their higher education. To-date, nearly 100 adults with autism have been employed by nonPareil. For many, this was their first job. Others have gotten the vocational and social skills experience they needed in order to find jobs in the community, move into an apartment for the first time, get a driver’s license and reach other milestones of independent adult life.
The nonPareil Institute does an amazing job of creating an empathetic, growth-focused environment where individual differences and strengths are celebrated and built upon.
Such an incredible non profit that provides such a unique experience to adults with ASD. It is so clear that everyone involved is dedicated and truly loves what they do.
My son has attended nonPareil for almost five years. In that time his skills as a digital artist have increased significantly, but even more importantly, his soft-skills and ability to work with other Crew members, Staff members, and everyone that he comes in contact with has seen a dramatic and positive increase. He has gained an increased sense of responsibility and self-worth. He works and trains with amazing Staff and has built a circle of friends with similar interests.
Our son loves coming to "work" at nonPareil Institute. He gets up early everyday and even showers! He has found his place!
My son started at nonPareil Institute in October 2010 and has since found his "place!" We tried other technical ventures for him, but he is very withdrawn and doesn't talk to others. But around the gentle instructors at the institute, he has come out of his shell and is thriving! He even has friends!!
Our son has found such a great community of friends and feels very accepted.
My adult son has Asperger's Syndrome and enjoys working in an environment that is accepting and flexible to his needs. I have great gratitude for nPI.