One in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism. Turning Pointe Autism Foundation’s new CEO Walter Johnson knows all too well how devastating a diagnosis can be.
April is Autism Awareness Month and the organization recently had a ribbon cutting to unveil their new home and Johnson believes it gives families new hope.
“Our intent isn’t to make things so they are exclusively local,” said Johnson. “I think all of the local families impacted will have the chance to participate in what we’re doing, but this is bigger than Naperville, bigger than DuPage County. This is something that we believe that if it’s done the right way and we believe we have the right formula it can have impact on families nation wide.”
That formula includes four initiatives, education, career development, recreation, and residence all working to create independence. The new building has classrooms, a mock retail and warehouse work environment, an area for leisure and exercise, and a mock bedroom. Johnson says it’s all to let families know that they aren’t alone there is help.
“To move that child and that family from a place where they can’t clean themselves up to the point where they can go to the bathroom by themselves, that’s huge. You and I take that for granted, that’s huge. To have a child look at their parent and say ‘you know mom, I love you’ and to go ten years and never hear I love you, that’s huge. To take a young adult that really wants to have an independent life and have us give them an opportunity to feel what independence looks like, feels like, tastes like, that’s huge,” said Johnson.
Local families weren’t only impressed with the new building, but thankful their child has this opportunity.
“That’s what we all want to do is grow up and get a job and have energy and excitement for life,” said Theresa Forthofer, a Plainfield resident. “The fact that there’s something right here local that’s really one of a kind is really pretty amazing.”
Johnson hopes five years from now we’ll be looking at this model in cities across the country, to donate and find out more visit turning-pointeautismfoundation.org.
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