Autism Champions in McLean County
Testimonials from individuals on the autism spectrum and their families:
Serving people with autism
“Our son belongs to Four Seasons where they create a welcoming atmosphere when checking in at the front desk.”
“The Bloomington Public Library has a lot of good movies and books. I like the soft conversations, quiet atmosphere, and friendly workers that are always willing to help out.”
“Our local police departments have a McLean County Early Notification Program to support and protect individuals with autism and other disabilities.”
“Our daughter has her hair cut by Vicki at Hair Sensations where her service dog is genuinely and enthusiastically welcomed, which puts L... at ease and comfort.”
“Drivers’ License Bureau. When I went to go get my drivers’ license, they treat me like a normal person, as I would want them to. They are always very nice and helpful to me.”
“I go to church every Sunday. I know a lot of people there. The bishop is always very kind to me. I always dress up very nice when I go to church."
“Dr. Lori Pegram has always provided a welcome environment and support for my daughter.”
“Dr. Dan Steadman, Dentist, always provides a comfortable, relaxed environment for my son, who now has no fear or anxiety of the dentist.”
“The workers at Avanti’s are extra friendly. Katie is my favorite. We see her every Thursday. I like Kayla too. I like the waitresses. I like the customers. I like their food.”
“My daughter gets her hair done at Razorz Edge. Tonya, who works there, is friendly and warm toward R..., and makes an effort to put her at ease when working on her hair.”
Work with me.
Employing people with autism
“Jeff Pritts, the general manager at the Uptown Marriott strives to hire people with varying abilities. He looks for ways to accommodate the workers as needed.”
“I work at Casey’s; the people there are just amazing. I have two bosses and they treat me like an equal.”
“I like working at Walgreens. I like Mike there. He's the manager. He gives me my evaluation. I like all the people.”
“I am one of the fry cooks in Pheasant Lanes; I like the place because of the experiences I have had having to talk to the customers. I found the staff to be helpful and the people were cool.”
“Right now I am doing a lot of computer work for AFNI, they taught me how to go through all of the work to do letters of identity and disputes. I now know how to do these things which I did not know how to do before.”
“The owner of Tobin’s Pizza was just really helpful to me when I worked there. I got frustrated sometimes and he took me aside once just to say that it’s okay and that I could take a break or he could have someone else cover for me. He was just really nice and he understood me. And keeping a job for four years was awesome.”
“My son has been an employee at La Gondola for 11 years. The boss (Kelly Tobin) attended the Rotary lunch last year to present his deep appreciation for B... “
“I have a good supervisor now. She’s easier to work with. She hands me slips to remind me what I'm supposed to be doing."
"My daughter was employed at Thomson & Weintraub, Attorneys at Law, digitizing files. They provided a quiet, private office for her to be able to work in a safe, comfortable environment."
Play with me.
Creating play and leisure opportunities for people with autism
“Big Brother/Big Sisters. Everyone there was respectful, caring, and fun to be with. People get paired up so everyone is included. My partner was Emily. We would chat about our weekend, play games, and watch movies. Every year we would switch partners so that we would get to know more people.”
“Rising Star Academy has been providing an autism open gym for the past 13 years. They have been open and welcoming to us from day one.“
Learn with me.
Creating educational opportunities for people with autism
“When I went to college, there was Mr. Viper. Even when I wouldn’t want to talk about my feelings too much, he would talk to me.”
“As a student at Illinois State University, my daughter L... received a bachelor’s degree. For those professors to whom she disclosed her disability, she was allowed to speak to the class, explaining her needs, which provided a better foundation of understanding and communication with both the professors and her classmates.”
“My son G... has been a student at Heartland Community College for several years, receiving his Associates Degree. He has successfully participated in Project Rise, which lends support for individuals with disabilities. He plans to begin a degree in History at ISU.”
“My best school experiences came from teachers who allowed me to be accommodated as needed. Tom Parton was a great advocate in Unit 5 for the rights of students with autism. He saw potential for all the students.”
Partner with me.
Creating social and civic engagement opportunities and support for people with autism
“The Normal Public Library recently created an autism café – a time and space for adults with autism to gather for activities.”
“My son G... volunteers at the Mclean County Museum of History, where he is valued by the employees.”
“My daughter, L..., has volunteered at the McLean County Museum of History where Bill Kemp provided support and went out of his way to assist L... in additional learning.”
“Our son, G..., volunteers at the Humane Society. The adults especially connect with and enjoy him.”
“My daughter is a member of Master Gardeners’ Friends First, where Master Gardeners has provided programs and support, especially for E..., who has a keen interest in gardening.”
“My son, C..., volunteers in the Home Sweet Home warehouse. The staff adapts activities for him, and convey to him that he is valued.”
“My son is a member of the Sound of Illinois Chorus. The members embrace him as one of the family, which is the environmental feeling. They express how much they value his contribution and membership.”
Visit our resources to learn more about autism and how to create a welcoming environment.