Our Story

In 1996, a visionary group of parents and their children’s special education teacher sat around a kitchen table in Park Ridge and made a bold plan. At a time when there was minimal awareness that autism existed and few resources available, they started Have Dreams, a one-of-a-kind after-school program for children with autism. The “Have” in Have Dreams stands for Helping Autistic Voices Emerge and over the years, we’ve stayed true to that mission. As the population we serve has increased and grown older, we have expanded our locations, programming, and professional training offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of families seeking resources, programs and support.  Have Dreams is fortunate to have a community of support – participants, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, donors, business partners, staff members, board members, and volunteers -working together to help us fulfill our mission since the organization’s founding in 1996.

Here is a snapshot of our history, as together, our Have Dreams community continues to provide its innovative and effective work to impact and transform the lives of individuals with autism.