Our grandson has been a trainee at nonpareil for three years. For the past year, he has been transitioning into a teaching role as an assistant instructor; he hopes to grow in his teaching work in the future. nonpareil has offered him training and work in an area where he has competence and high interest (computer based game development). It is changing his life. He is an intelligent and sweet young man, and nonpareil is offering him a future than here-to-fore he has not had. It is a great program.
Our son has become an independent, mature, self-assured adult with high hopes for his future. At nonPareil, those on the autism spectrum are supported so that they can meet the high expectations of being a crew member. We need this organization which sees autism as an opportunity, not a handicap.
My son is on the autism spectrum. We have worked for years to find a program that will provide him with a meaningful life experience. After 18 months in another program where he assembled cardboard boxes and screwed lids on syrup bottles we had the good fortune to come across nonPareill by accident.
He is now in the initial period but enjoys the program.
Although he says it is "hard" we are very pleased that he finally is being challanged to reach new levels of knowledge. I hope others can benefit from the program as we feel we have.
My daughter Chloe is on the Autism spectrum. After high school, she's tried community colleges and volunteerEd in different organizations. But it has always been about finding things for her to do just to fill her time, but we always thought she was either not being instructed the "right" way or she was simply not being challenged intellectually. I always believed Chloe can learn just about anything if she was taught the right way. But we never found any place that can be both warm, understanding, and intellectually challenging. Until we learnt about nonPareil and was lucky enough to be offered a place.
What NonPareil offers is nothing short of life changing. Chloe is thoroughly enjoying her time spent there so much that she wants to go there even on those days that she doesn't have a lesson--- just so she can work in the computer lab on her own! She loves the instructions and she loves the entire staff.
I believe nonpareil should be in every city and in every country. There are simply no enough places for these smart but different young adults to learn and grow. We considered ourselves extremely fortunate to be able to have Chloe in there. I am praying and hoping that nonPareil gets the recognitions it deserves, and I hope it can expand to many parts in the country and in the world. This organization is truly a blessing to all it's crew members and families.
Knowing that our son was not ready for college, we were fortunate to hear about nonPareil Institute just before he graduated from high school, at a time when we were unsure of what the future held for him. He's been a crew member now for almost a year and I can say it's been one of the best things we could have hoped for him. He's very high functioning, but needed a way to channel the knowledge of the things he's passionate about (computers and video gaming) into a way to eventually make a living from it. nonPareil is giving him this instruction he needs to do this. He's always wanted to work in the video gaming industry, so hopefully the skills he's learning will allow him that opportunity one day. He loves that he's learning at his own pace, without the pressure that would be expected in college (as was his struggle all through elementary, middle and high school). I can honestly say that nonPareil has been a true Godsend for us and the vision that Gary and Dan have will ensure that those on the Autism Spectrum will be able to lead fulfilling lives and truly live up to the magnificent potential that is within each of them. I'm hoping to see all of nonPareil's expansion dreams come true. It would mean so much to so many more people. nonPareil Institute is one of the most OUTSTANDING organizations to come along in a very long time!! Thank you, Gary and Dan for being such visionaries!
My son is just finishing his 30 day evaluation period at nonPareil and from the moment we heard about nP we were incredibly impressed and excited to have this opportunity for our son and everything we've seen firsthand has only impressed us that much more. The entire staff is committed to the success of each and every member. I hope and pray that Dan, Gary and everyone involved with nonPareil are able to see their vision for the future (their expansion plans) carried out. I am so very thankful that we found out about nonPareil and my son has the opportunity to be a part of this AMAZING program.
My son Emnet who is 14 is on the Autism spectrum. Nonpareil give hope for my son . With the help of Nonpareil my son will be a productive. Nonpareil will be built a confidence for my son. Nonpareil help my son not to be a burden of the society. It will be great if we have a training institute in our area. (Washington DC) this is the only organization I know , It gives a positive learning place for Auistic kids.
nonPareil understands. nonPareil cares. nonPareil is hopeful. nonPareil is needed. What a concept! A win win! Help for those who are on the Autism Spectrum that have no other resource but mindless, no or low pay work. nonPareil is allowing these deserving individuals a chance to be productive. To have a purpose. To be creative. To put their talents to use. The concept of allowing individuals to learn and work at their pace with the goal of the Team producing a product that will support their company. nonPareil's Crew will, one day, produce "The App" everyone is talking about. And nonPareil plans to open up more possible careers for those that don't lean toward technology. It's very exciting!
My 14-year old son, Ethan, and my wife’s 14-year old son, Trey, are on the autism spectrum. We just found out early last year that our son, four-year old Luke, also has autism. One out of every 68 children today has some form of autism.
Because of Ethan and Trey’s autism affliction, five years ago I worked with the co-founders, Dan Selec and Gary Moore, to start nonPareil Institute -- for training young adults with autism to work in the technology industry, specifically in developing gaming applications and gaming software -- at that time on a "campus" that consisted of Dan's breakfast nook in his home serving three students.
Since then, we have grown to over 150 students on Southern Methodist University's Plano Campus. The students have developed numerous apps for the iPhone and similar devices, and have also developed several computer games – from start to finish. And we just signed an agreement with Nintendo to develop games!
We literally have received emails from all over the world asking about the work we're doing and if we can help children all over the country and around the globe.
For more on nonPareil:
A profile of the amazing work being done at nonPareil Institute is featured in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of NTX Magazine (the magazine of the North Texas Commission): http://www.joomag.com/magazine/ntx-magazine-spring-summer-2014/0643373001396990159
And Family Circle last month (April is World Autism Awareness Month) did a story profiling nonPareil Institute: http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/volunteering/career-training-for-autistic-young-adults/
nP was featured in USA TODAY in September: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/28/autism-jobs-parents/2839027/#!
nP was featured on CNN in July: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjZq-oiv5uw
nP was also featured last June on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/52162262/#52162262
And, a second trailer for the documentary being made about nP has been released: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5j-3fjmuNc
My son, Ethan, and my wife’s son, Trey, are on the autism spectrum. We just found out eight months ago that our son, three-year old Luke, also has autism. One out of every 50 children today has some form of autism.
Because of Ethan and Trey’s autism affliction, four years ago I co-founded nonPareil Institute -- for training young adults with autism to work in the technology industry, specifically in developing gaming applications and gaming software -- at that time on a "campus" that consisted of one of the co-founder's breakfast nooks in his home serving three students.
Since then, we have grown to 125 students and have opened offices and classroom space on Southern Methodist University's Plano Campus. The students have developed numerous apps for the iPhone and similar devices, and have also developed several computer games – from start to finish.
We literally have received emails from all over the world asking about the work we're doing and if we can help children all over the country and around the globe.
nonPareil has just signed an agreement with Sony to produce games for their Playstation game console (so exciting) and we're about to release "Lightwire" -- a visually stunning gaming app for the iPhone and iPad. We also just released a fun gaming app called "Dots & Boxes."
We were also featured recently on NBC Nightly News: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/52162262/#52162262
For more on nonPareil:
KERA Radio in Dallas, part of the NPR digital networks, profiled nonPareil Institute on air and on its Website in the story "Young Adults With Autism Find Work In Tech":
A job training and autism briefing at Dallas City Hall early last month featured my fellow co-founders at nonPareil Institute:
nonPareil was highlighted in the November 30th print and online issue of the Dallas Business Journal:
nonPareil's tech training gives solid future to adults with autism Premium content from Dallas Business Journal by Bill Hethcock, Staff Writer
Date: Friday, November 30, 2012, 5:00am CST - Last Modified: Thursday, November 29, 2012, 3:24pm CST Aaron Winston and Cheryl O’Brien spend much of their day in a darkened room, staring at a computer screen, developing gaming apps for iPhones, iPads, Androids and other smartphone and tablet devices.
In one of Winston’s apps, called Spaceape, a Cosmonaut ape named Dmitri flies around outer space, scooping up bananas and dodging asteroids, comets and aliens. One of O’Brien’s apps, called npiSoroban, is an abacus for the iPad and other devices. The apps are available for 99 cents at app stores.
Winston and O’Brien are former students and current staff programmers at nonPareil Institute, a nonprofit technology company housed on Southern Methodist University’s campus in Plano. Like all of nonPareil’s students and more than half of its 23 staffers, Winston and O’Brien have autism.
The three-year-old institute provides technical training for adults on the autism spectrum, teaching teamwork and skills that enable students and staff to create products, like Spaceape and npiSoroban, for market release.
The institute is growing fast, said Gary Moore, president and co-founder. It had eight students when it opened on the SMU-Plano campus two years ago. Today, it has 93 students and a waiting list of more than 50.
The institute is looking to add a campus in Fort Worth in the next year and ultimately expand nationwide and around the world, Moore said. Word of the institute and its work has spread fast in the autism community, he said.
“There is a tidal wave coming,” Moore said. “From all over the world, we are getting phone calls. There’s nothing else for these adults.”
‘People understand how I’m made up’
Soaring autism rates are driving much of the growth of nonPareil (which means “no equal”), Moore said. The condition is now believed to affect one in 88 children — up from one in 150 just 10 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the next 10 years, more than 500,000 people with autism will turn 18, according to the nonprofit Autism Speaks.
Because people with autism may think and act differently, many don’t fit into a typical corporate workplace, so they end up unemployed or in part-time, minimum-wage jobs, Moore said.
“Many of the high-functioning guys are brilliant, but they can’t get a job because they’re different,” Moore said. “We’re trying to build a future for them.”
Winston, who wasn’t working or in school when his mother took him to interview for a student slot at nonPareil, said the institute is a perfect fit for him. After graduating from a North Dallas high school in 2010, Winston signed up for a composition class at Richland College, but never went because he had “too much anxiety,” he said.
“(nonPareil) gave me the skills I needed,” he said. “There is less pressure here and great camaraderie. People understand how I’m made up.”
The institute has proven transformational for O’Brien as well. O’Brien, who has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Houston, was throwing papers, working as a crossing guard and doing part-time clerical work when she heard about nonPareil. She traded those jobs to be a student at nonPareil, and has worked her way into a position as a staff programmer and instructor.
“I like programming and I like making apps,” O’Brien said. “It’s fun.”
Building corporate partnerships
Students at nonPareil pay $600 a month to take classes. The money is used to help keep the nonprofit business running. Revenue from apps goes back to the institute, although so far the apps haven’t racked up big sales, in part because the institute doesn’t have much of a marketing budget, its founders say. App sales totaled about $500 last year.
The goal is for mobile app revenue to sustain nonPareil’s operating budget, CEO Dan Selec said. Selec and Moore co-founded nonPareil along with John Eix in July 2009, and the organization’s first classes were held in Selec’s kitchen. Selec, Moore and Eix, a nonPareil board member who works in business development for Dallas law firm Hunton & Williams LLP, all have sons with autism.
“The thing that the three of us were so passionate about when we began was, once school systems were done with the kids at 18 years old, it’s very difficult for them to move into a corporate environment,” Eix said. “They don’t process information that way and they don’t process emotion that way. But if you put them in an environment where they’re working together, where they appreciate one another because they know what the other one is going through, they just absolutely thrive.”
The institute is building corporate partnerships with companies such as Google, Selec said. That company has a “Google Spectrum Team” which engages people with autism nationwide to work on projects, he said. Google provides licensing to nonPareil for some of its software products, Selec said. The company also uses donated software from Microsoft, Valve and other corporations, he said.
Texas Instruments, Vision2 Systems, Accent Networks and Cinemark Theaters are among the corporate supporters of nonPareil as well, Eix said.
The institute has four apps in the Apple iTunes store, three apps in the Google Play store and another 10 in the pipeline, Selec said. While sales of nonPareil products haven’t taken off yet, it only takes one breakout app — an Angry Birds, for example — to dramatically change a company’s revenue picture, he said.
The institute tries to take a market-driven approach to the employment challenges faced by people with autism, Selec said.
“If we can consistently get product on the market, instead of having this tidal wave of individuals look for a welfare answer or a governmental answer, what we’re focused on is getting them resources they need to learn and earn their own way in their lives,” he said. “Let’s help them live fulfilled lives through the work that they can do.
“We’re committed to giving them the skills that they need to build great products and compete in the marketplace.”
APPS AND AUTISM
NAME: nonPareil Institute
BUSINESS: App and game development
HEADQUARTERS: 5240 Tennyson Pkwy., Ste. 105, Plano 75024
TOP EXECUTIVE: Dan Selec, CEO
The Huffington Post profiled nonPareil Institute in its online issue recently:
nonPareil was featured in a recent ComputerWorld article:
We were also just highlighted as part of a story that ran a few months ago on Channel 8 (the ABC affiliate in Dallas):
Also, the documentary filmmaker has been filming a documentary profiling nonPareil. He provided us this trailer in advance of the film’s release later this year:
And also, I made The Dallas Morning News' op-ed section over a year ago:
nonPareil Institute is ONE OF A KIND! It is an organization where the talents of those diagnosed on the autistic spectrum can achieve their dreams. This non-profit offers a positive work and learning environment that caters to the special needs of those brilliant young adults who have been seeking an unique opportunity to take their gifts and apply them as a contribution to society. If you know someone, or are someone struggling with a young adult on the spectrum, the unfortunate realization is that after high school graduation the boundless opportunities available for the typical graduate are simply not an option for these individuals. nonPareil, like it's name, is second to none, surpassing all expectations as far as autism is concerned. The goal is to have enough support to build multiple campuses across the country. One location simply is not enough to fulfill the HUGE demand. My son has a purpose and passion for his future, which honestly, is an anomaly for most on the spectrum.
This is a great training institute for folks who are autistic. They are training and enabling a community of autistic adults to be a productive part of our society by giving them a place to learn and to build confidence in their abilities to create great applications for our smart phones and write books for our creative reading. They also offer an avenue for the adults to bring out and enhance their creativeness in a non-threatening environment. The opportunity that NonPareil is giving these adults is incredible. And the result of the work that has been created to date has been just as incredible. There is such a demand for this kind of training institute in our communities, and it's great to have one of the training centers in the Dallas area. It's also great to see them working to expand into other markets. There is such an incredible need as the autism population continues to grow for place like this. This kind of learning institute will give them the opportunity in life to help them succeed. The owners of the non-profit have done an incredible job to date and continue to look at future opportunities to grow the training center to include other interest for autistic adults that want to learn and grow a specific skill set. NonPareil certainly deserves to be known as a number one Great Nonprofit organization for the help they are giving families with autistic adults.
We love NonPareil! The work they do with adults on the austin spectrum is without equal. They not only find acceptance, but an incredible sense of accomplishment as they learn to work in a field they love. We are so anxious for our son to be accepted into this program... He is counting the days until he receives that call. My prayer is that more people hear about the amazing work they do and that they receive the funding they need to increase their availability.
NONPARIEL INSTITUTE is a great organization that gives students/adults with autism opportunities to showcase their abilities in areas of interest and learn to be contributing citizens in their communities.
I have referred adult students the the program and seen great growth and success for them.
This institute is fantastic! Their crew members are very happy there, and the staff is very involved and caring.
Since finding out about nPI about a year ago, my Son has found acceptance in a workplace setting that truly encourages his uniqueness and God given talents. Thank you, thank you for unconditionally loving these young adults and inspiring them to greatness!!! nPI values my Son as much as I do -- who could ask for more? How blessed we are to have found nPI.
What will my child do when I'm gone? How will he support himself? These questions were answered at nPI. My son has been given the gift of respect, a chance to be himself. He is being taught the skills that will enable him to have hope for a future of independence. His gifts and talents are welcomed and he is accepted at nPI. The staff members are friendly, kind and truly understand my son because he is a lot like their own. We feel blessed to have found nPI. What more could a parent ask?
My son, Christian, attends this institute. We visited in Nov. 2012, then he was accepted in Feb. 2013. We are 100% committed to this group, as they are providing trainig for autistic individuals. Founded by men who have sons affected by ASD, training is hands on/computer generated. Need more like this, and they are looking to expand, so support them with funds so we can reach more people. The need is growing exponentially!
I am a special educator that also has a son with Asperger's, age 20. We attended the Open House in Plano, Texas and are in the process of enrolling in nonPareil/Spring 2013. I have been searching for a program that will provide training in the type of setting that will allow true learning (translate "hands-on"), versus "book learning" (written tests, chapter reading, etc.). The former will result in a person that can actually do something/hold a job, versus a piece of paper that indicates someone has completed courses, but still not able to actually perform work of any kind. This program is SO NEEDED, and will only become moreso as we see the number of Autism incidence change from 1 in 150 individuals, to present numbers of 1 in 88. Stay tuned for the next revision; if you don't know someone now with an Autistic child, you will soon.
We are now in the second year of our daughter's association with nonPareil Institute, where she is a student and also a part time employee. In that first year, we were filled with gratitude as she quickly melded into a greater whole of individuals "on the Autism spectrum". As I volunteered I observed a culture in which new individuals could literally walk into the Social Room, observe a video game being played for a few minutes, and relax, cross-legged in the floor to exchange knowing observations about the game maker's strength's and weaknesses. Repeatedly, daily, I was able to observe persons who probably were, in other environments, ostracized for their peculiar attention to detail and focus on a single subject. These individuals needed to be able to express their opinions on those important subjects, and their peers listened, every one of them, as they enthusiastically discussed the minutia that supported their theories and beliefs. They could take whatever time was needed to let the speaker converse, and then give pertinent answers. Less self-assured individuals I observed felt comfortable enough to express frustrations with operating various games, and a few of their peers would flank them, making encouraging remarks, offering personal experiences, and assuring support. I volunteer random days, see different individuals, but this is the common experience at nonPareil within the "down time" of the Social Room.
As I have spoken to and become familiar with students at nP, I have learned how life-changing it was for most of them. Literally lives have changed from despair to hope and confidence. Emphasis by the carefully attentive staff not only on the worth of individuals, but also on the value of the collective whole of individuals attending and/or working at nP keeps focus on the motto, "All for one and one for all!" No one is expected to make it alone, and no one is left to his or her own devices.
So, it is like watching ducks getting into water. They belong. It was made for them.....
After high school, our daughter who is affected by Asperger's on the Autism Spectrum, had an almost free fall with respect to schooling and employment. Although we sought help from the State employment agency, overall she was set up with a series of jobs far beneath her capabilities, and inappropriate for her bright mind. Finally we were fortunate enough to find nonPareil Institute. Since her enrollment in the training program, our daughter has learned to use Hammer software to build maps for computer game and apps, and expects to go on for further training in various aspects of video game and computer application construction. The environment is a near perfect lab for adults affected by ASD including personal training, Kabals with the production team, and social opportunities that foster respectful interaction with others on the ASD spectrum as well as with Neurotypical individuals. Instructors may include graduates of the program who are on the ASD spectrum, and computer software engineers from the SMU graduate program or from industry backgrounds. Our experience at nonPareil exceeds our hopes and expectations. We are committed to ensuring our daughter and others on the ASD spectrum are able to train and work there..
Review from Guidestar
My child struggled through school. He preferred to stay home. He did okay in school. He did not have many friends. He struggled with social interaction. Not much time for gossip or petty behavior. He loved lego's, k-nex, computer games and more computer games. College was more of a struggle. The freedom that so many of us enjoy, caused him great pain. A pretty girl, a confusing statement, unclear instructions, or anything that required more effort seemed to make my son withdraw and become very frustrated.
As a child he cleared his throat, he made bubble sounds when eating, he moaned when he got really mad and would not talk. As he got older he began to make hand gestures. The doctor wanted to slow his heart rate down. I refused.
Five years in college 3.8 gpa.....no degree....just so unhappy. Getting a job was impossible. It would take me 3 weeks to convince him he had to get a job. By the time he got the nerve to apply the job would be gone. He finally got a job at a car dealership in IT. The guy asked him if he had Aspergers up front. My son was so happy someone knew. Job went great the first 2 weeks. He was fixing computers, things that most of us don't know how to fix. Then suddenly he was told he had to work in the accountants office. He got immediate anxiety. Hephysically could not go in the door. His fear was so real. He quit and went home. He wanted to die....He came and told me life wasn't worth living!
I started looking on line for colleges for asperger's. I found schools that cost $50k to teach social skills in Florida. Then I found Non-pareil. I emailed a few questions, and this compassionate person called me back. I looked up their site, and their dream for the future. A city for asperger's where everyone can thrive and live. It seemed awesome.
I immediately booked a plane from Columbia, SC to Plano, Texas. We went. My son was hesitant at first, never being away from me much. We were showed around the school. My son saw other people like him, but all different. Another new student was introduced to him and they began to talk about Japanese art, and anemae(????) WAIT A MINUTE...MY SON IN TALKING TO SOMEONE???? A STRANGER??? HE IS SITTING ON FLOOR NOW HAVING A FLUID CONVERSATION WITHOUT FEAR? THIS WENT ON FOR OVER AN HOUR. I CRIED....first time I had ever seen him comfortably engaged with a stranger.
He looked at me and said, Mom I want to come here. You don't have to come. I can do it.
This November will be 2 years for him. My mom could not believe I would move him half way across the United States. I told her if this place was in Alaska, I would be buying him Eskimo boots.
Non-pareil has changed everyone's life from the parents to the adult. For the first time these gifted people feel productive, accepted and worth while. Asperger's people are honest, hard workers, dedicated to their tasks and glad to keep their minds challenged. They do not gossip and get lost in mainstream complaining. Great workers.
As an adult with Aspergers I am truly thankful to Dan Selec, Gary Moore, and the nonpareil Institute for accepting me 3 years ago to their wonderful program. I have benefited immeasurable amounts from the caring workplace and skills developed as a crew member. I Have become a viable programmer and have my Code in Market games such as Space Ape! (Space Ape is available for iPhone, google play, ziosk, and on the OUYA)
nonPareil has given me a purpose, helped me forged new friendships, and has enabled to have a career that I am truly passionate about!
All I know is the last 3 years would have been a bummer of ride without the nonpareil institute.
Thank G-d for the last 3 years and for my bright future with nonpareil!
if you haven't downloaded Space Ape please download and show your support.
When you have the opportunity to meet the founders of nPi,Gary W. Moore and Dan Selec, you meet men with vision, heart and true bravery. These men have built nPi to transform the life of an individual with a difference- autism, into a confident, competent, self-sustaining SUPER HERO for themselves and for their families. nPi will change the way the world views autism. You can see the success in the eyes of the gracious students and their parents and the hugs that are so readily shared by all. To help nPi be able to serve more students via more campuses, summer programs, camps, more equipment, more visibility is not only a noble thing, but a required step for us all. nPi is Programming Hope, Healing Lives, Lifting Spirits and making a difference in the world of autism...and in the world in general. Their belief and dedication to purpose inspires my soul and I am blessed to be part of their community.
To offer hope to someone who has no future in a traditional educational setting because autism keeps him from functioning in a way that most people have difficulty dealing with has been nonPareil's greatest gift to my son. To offer practical skills in an area that my son loves in a setting that welcomes him is priceless.
Until we found nonPareil, I had doubts that there was any place for my son in this world beyond our home. But from our first visit to nonPareil, we knew Ash had found his other home. He fit in (which he never has anywhere), he felt productive (instead of frustrated and useless like he did in high school). Instead of the kick in the teeth he has been used to all his life, nonPareil is an embrace. It offers him skills that could not get in any "normal" setting. It offers him the chance to work as a team on projects that he is enthusiastic about. It offers him hope that he can have a productive life, that he IS a useful human being, that he is valued.
Will nonPareil create the next Angry Birds? Who knows. I hope so. They created Space Apes, one of my favorite games. I'd love to see their games take off in a big way so that they can expand and provide the same opportunities to legions of autisitic young adults.