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Monday, February 6, 2023

Turning Pointe Autism Foundation celebrates 15 years of serving families living with autism

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Turning Pointe Report

When Kim and Randy Wolf, Naperville parents of 9-year-old Jack, dreamed of a place where their autistic son could learn and thrive, they never imagined that idea would grow into a center helping families for 15 years. They hoped to improve the quality of programs for children like Jack. The vision endures at Turning Pointe while evolving with the literature to ensure best practice interventions are embedded in all programs.

In 2007, Turning Pointe was incorporated as a 501c3 Nonprofit. Propelled by a grant from the Canadian National Railroad, the Therapeutic Day School started with a curriculum that had proven effective with a small pilot group. The Day School serves 50 students aged 5-22 from area school districts and is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The program offers intensive individual attention and accommodations. Data analysis of program outcomes shows additional gains for students beyond their Individual Educational Program (IEP) goals. Recent program evaluations demonstrate 81% of all students are on track to meet goals.

“Our 10-year-old son Gianni started at Turning Pointe in 2021,” says his mother Lucia Roden. “We have seen dramatic changes in his behavior, attitude, and personality. He has flourished in ways we always hoped.”

Over the years, referrals skyrocketed as the incidence of autism among children is a staggering 1 in 44. Turning Pointe moved to a facility that allowed it to grow from one classroom to ten, plus three sensory rooms, an occupational therapy gym, a Walgreens training store, and a nurse’s station to accommodate the need.

In 2012 a grant from the Coleman Foundation and in partnership with Walgreens and the Dan Wolf Auto Group, an adult employment programming launched. To date, 32 companies have hired employment training graduates, and some 65 students have gone on to independent employment over the past ten years. In 2019, a supported employment day program began to accommodate students with greater needs, like Jack Wolf, who is employed part of his day to help pack coffee and Turning Pointe’s famous pumpkin-racer kits.

Kim Wolf says of her son, “He’s a happy 24-year-old, living his life the way any 24-year-old should.”

COVID-19 disrupted in-person individualized learning critical to the program. In the Spring of 2020, staff secured telehealth certification from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), which also certified Turning Pointe as a Center for Autism, offering families, clinicians, and professionals confidence that the school has high competency in the field of autism services. By July, Turning Pointe was the first school of its kind to reopen by tenting the parking lot to welcome students back.

Despite COVID, in 2021 the school opened the first of two elementary classrooms, took its employment program for adults online, and secured accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities for its adult day pilot program.

The Turning Pointe website answers families’ toughest questions regarding diagnosis, therapies, healthcare, education, socialization, adult support, and family life. A Certified Family Life Educator/Child Life Specialist can also offer support and guidance to families in need.

Randy Wolf and Jack Wolf (Photo courtesy Turning Pointe Autism Foundation)

Randy Wolf still serves as Board Chairman.

“It’s so humbling to see all those buses in front of the school,” he says. “To see all those smiling faces puts a lump in your throat.”

PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.

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