Turning Pointe Autism Foundation relaunches employee training program
A popular Turning Pointe program returns this winter to teach job readiness and employment skills, and train job seekers on the autism spectrum how to be gainfully and competitively employed. Participants receive classroom-based instruction and training and also have mock on-the-job training and potential internships.
Since 2012, Turning Pointe in Naperville has presented the Employment Training Program to assist young adults with autism in finding employment.
Dozens of trainees have gone on to work at area businesses including Walgreens, OfficeMax, Calamos, Crate & Barrel, Sharing Connections, and the Made to Inspire Cafe, among other employers. During the pandemic, the program evolved significantly, yet still was able to train 21 individuals.
"Some 66% of adults with autism are unemployed. Turning Pointe knows the right support and connections can break down barriers," says executive director Carrie Provenzale. "We have witnessed countless adults go on to have success in the workplace. And individuals with autism are loyal, reliable employees."
The next cohort begins Feb. 7. Classes are held Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with optional social hours following.
The three-month program will be taught by a special education teacher and supported by best-practice interventions Turning Pointe utilizes throughout its programs.
Skills covered include teamwork, communications, problem solving, professionalism, resume building, job application, interview skills. Following the initial six-weeks of classroom, students receive six weeks of mock-training in retail and café in realistic settings on campus.
Tarek Fayoumi, a graduate of the employment training program, is now working at Hotel Arista in Naperville while building a career as a freelance film critic with a regular column in a local monthly newspaper.
"The program prepared me for the work world by reminding me of consistency and positive mental health," he says. "I was lost and always in a bad mood and lacked motivation. Over time though, the many mentors of the Program pushed me to better my mindset, be more hardworking, and to always remain committed to completing important tasks. Now I am a Houseman at Arista. I oversee the cleanliness of areas of the hotel. It is a job where I am always on my feet. I love it because it keeps me active, and I feel I am growing to be a stronger employee every day from the variety of tasks I handle on a daily basis."
Fayoumi believes the skills and emotional development he gained through the program have propelled his film critic endeavors as well, allowing him to polish his work, attend screenings and meet publication and blog deadlines.
"I have worked to remain committed to my craft writing film reviews. Now I am the creator and lead critic of my site MovieswithTarek.com. I contribute to Positively Naperville, and Medium.com and am a full member of the Chicago Indie Critics," he offers. "Turning Pointe motivated me to come out of my shell and prove what I can truly do with my words and my love for movies."
Joe Fabian, store manager/recruiter for Walgreens, has worked with a number of Turning Pointe Employment Training Program students and graduates.
"Turning Pointe helps to create opportunities of a lifetime, " he says. "I am proud to work with and support their efforts!"
For more information on the Turning Pointe Autism Foundations Employment Training Program, visit turningpointeautismfoundation.org/employment-training-program/ or contact Mary Butler at (630) 615-6036 or email@example.com.