Welcome me.

Serve and support people with autism. Expand awareness. Create social and civic engagement opportunities.

“The Normal Public Library created an autism café – a time and space for adults with autism to gather for activities each month.”

“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.”

“My son volunteers at the McLean County Museum of History, where he is valued by the employees.”

“My son, C…, volunteers in the Home Sweet Home warehouse. The staff adapts activities for him, and convey to him that he is valued.”

“Our daughter has her hair cut by Vicki at Hair Sensations where her service dog is genuinely and enthusiastically welcomed, which puts my daughter 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.”

“The McLean County Museum of History is autism-friendly! Not only do they carry sensory bags, they have a social story to help plan for your visit.”

“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.”

“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.”

Illinois State University’s Design Streak graphic design class created Autism Awareness posters and marketing materials for Autism McLean.”

“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.”

“The McLean County India Association and McLean County Tamil Sangam selected Autism McLean as the beneficiary for their Run/Walk.”

Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, IL has trained its staff to be sensory friendly and is the first zoo in Illinois to be certified Sensory Friendly!”

Work with me.

Create meaningful work and employment.

“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 digitized files at McLean County Regional Planning Commission and Thomson & Weintraub. Both employers provided a quiet space and informed co-workers about autism, creating a safe, comfortable environment.”

Recreation for me.

Create recreation and leisure opportunities for people with autism

“Our son belongs to Four Seasons where they create a welcoming atmosphere when checking in at the front desk.”

“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.”

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.”

“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.”

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.“

“Our son volunteers at the Humane Society. The adults especially connect with and enjoy him.”

Students Supporting Individuals with Disabilities (SSID) is an ISU student organization that has partnered with Autism McLean for fifteen years, helping with recreational activities — such as autism sports camps, holiday parties, social groups, dances, as well as fundraising and childcare.”

“Dawn Auten leads Autism McLean’s iAM Connected social group for kids with autism ages 8 to 15. As a parent of a child with autism, Dawn knows the heartbreak when that child is never invited to a birthday party, movie, or a sleep-over. Auten did something about it by starting a friends group for her son and other kids with autism — a group of over 30 who gather for games, movies, and more.”

S.O.A.R. (Special Opportunities Available in Recreation) – for providing recreation programs for people with disabilities that help build participants’ self-confidence and self-esteem.”

Learn with me.

Provide educational opportunities for people with autism

Jon’s Heroes in Training is working to change how students with autism experience PE. In an adapted physical education course taught by ISU Professor Henniger, children with autism receive one-on-one coaching from ISU physical education teacher education majors.”

“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.”

“My daughter has volunteered at the McLean County Museum of History where Bill Kemp provided support and went out of his way to assist her in additional learning.”

Wellness for Me.

Ensuring wellness and access to healthcare for people with autism

Dr. Dan Steadman, Dentist, always provides a comfortable, relaxed environment for my son, who now has no fear or anxiety of the dentist.”

Dr. Samina Yousuf, M.D. provides extra care and advocacy to her patients with autism. She goes above and beyond helping her patients medically, psychologically and socially. She creates personalized toolkits to address the unique needs of patients with autism and other disabilities.”

CPR 4 EMI is a nonprofit founded by former Autism McLean board member, Dawn Wilson. CPR 4 EMI helps people who may interact with someone with autism in emergency situations or other moments of trauma. Dawn partnered with Autism McLean to provide Sensory Bags to every ambulance service in McLean County.” (Learn more about sensory bags at AutismMcLean.org)

A Place for Me.

There’s no place like home. Ensuring safe, appropriate housing, neighborhood and transportation for people with autism

“Our local police departments have a McLean County Early Notification Program to support and protect individuals with autism and other disabilities.”

Autism McLean and Marcfirst partnered to provide a series of public discussions and information sessions on autism and housing in McLean County.”

Autism McLean is cleaning-up the Constitution Trail in Bloomington-Normal. This service is done by individuals with autism — demonstrating neighborhood responsibility and giving back to the community that supports them.”

“I would like to recognize the Normal Police Department for how great they are when responding my son when he melts down. Just over a month ago, we had officers at our house and they were amazingly patient and kind with him… My son is 6ft, 340 lbs… I sat in the hallway, listening to returning officers coaching the new ones on how to handle him… I sat listening to how they speak to him so gentle and kind, always reminding him they care for him and want HIM safe. It just blew me away.”

“The Normal Public Library created an autism café – a time and space for adults with autism to gather for activities each month.”

Learn what else you can do ➤

Visit our resources to learn more about autism and how to create a welcoming environment.