Mark Theurer knew his son Alexander would not be ready for college after he graduated from McKinney Boyd High School.
Unlike most of his friends, Alexander lacked certain soft skills needed to level up life’s social tiers, which gave him fewer educational and vocational opportunities. While Mark sought options for his son, he discovered nonPareil Institute, a Plano-based nonprofit that helps autistic adults hone their tech skills by teaching them the nuances of video game development and digital design.
Nonpareil is a French word meaning “having no match or equal.”
“Coming here was his opportunity to really grow as an artist and branch out into different styles and genres and needs that nonPareil had in terms of building apps and assets,” Mark says. “But then he also had an opportunity to grow very much on the social and soft skills side.”
For most like Alexander, the institute is a place where adults on the autism spectrum can work comfortably with others in a professional atmosphere. And for most of them, nonPareil is their first step toward a shot at a white-collar career.
“Self-autonomy is important to anyone,” Michele Villarreal, development director, says. “You want to be able to make your own decisions. You want to be able to live on your own. You want to be able to do things like that. So, we are giving more than just technical skills. We are giving life skills.”