Thursday, April 19, 2018

Statement on Dr. Hans Asperger

Autism Light honored Dr. Hans Asperger as Autism Light #155 on February 25, 2012. Over 6,000 people read his post between 2012 and 2018. Autism Light seeks to be a stop on the Internet that is uplifting and respectful to all people of diverse backgrounds in the autism community.

Evidence of Dr. Asperger's cooperation with the Nazis that resulted in numerous disabled children being needlessly euthanized were not known in 2012 (See Guy Walters: How DID Dr. Asperger hide his past as a CHILD-KILLING monster for so long?, Daily Mail, April 19, 2018). While Dr. Hans Asperger did some good for autism during his time on this earth, as evidence by his original naming as an Autism Light, the uncovering of his horrific conduct rises to the level where he is no longer fit to be named alongside other autism heroes, including disabled children with autism and members of the Jewish community.

Today we are removing the post on Dr. Hans Asperger at Autism Light and removing it from all index pages on the blog, including the Memorial Roll. Our next post at Autism Light will be  a replacement subject for Autism Light #155.

My personal opinion is that the label Asperger's Syndrome (established to honor Dr. Hans Asperger posthumously), and which has been applied to high-functioning people with autism, should be eliminated and changed in light of this news about his conduct. However, I will leave that up to the group of people who have high-functioning autism to come forward with an appropriate name change.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tarik El-Abour

Autism Light #464 is Tarik El-Abour.

Tarik El-Abour is a 25 year old with autism from San Marino, California. After playing college baseball and two seasons of baseball for the Empire Pro Baseball League, Tarik El-Abour received a minor league contract from the Kansas City Royals in April 2018, making him by all accounts the first player with autism ever to be signed by a major league baseball organization. Tarik El-Abour is an Autism Light because of how his groundbreaking achievement in baseball will encourage others with autism to follow their athletic dreams no matter how high they may be.

After Tarik was diagnosed with autism at age 3, his mother Nadia Khalil quit her corporate job and went to UCLA to get an education in Special Education in order to help her son. She is now a popular author, speaker and teacher of self development. Nadia Khalil says this about her son.
"Those of us without autism think in concepts, he thinks in numbers. The greater the number of times he did anything, the better he was at it. Just like us. However, the way the numbers worked in his mind went way further than anything I could have yet imagined. He knew he had to practice. He knew he loved it. He told me that when he grew up and played baseball, he would buy me a house wherever he plays, so that I could watch his games live. He did not know yet how different he was. He did not know yet how autism was going to speak for him before he could speak for himself (Nadia Khalil, Quoted by Mitch Lehman, San Marino Tribune, August 9, 2017).”
The following is a news story on the Kansas City Royals signing Tarik El-Abour.

Tarik El-Abour was introduced to baseball when his father, Abed El-Abour registered him to play baseball in the San Marino National Little League. His road from there has been a steady pace to new opportunities.

College Career: Tarik El-Abour played baseball in college at Pasadena City College, Condordia University, Pacifica College and Bristol University. He received his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Bristol University but was not drafted out of college.

Empire League Career: "In 2016, El-Abour was named the Empire League's Rookie of the Year after batting .323 in 122 plate appearances and in 2017, he won a championship with the Plattsburgh Red Birds (DJ Dunson, Yahoo Sports, April 4, 2018)."

Reggie Sanders, a special adviser for the Kansas City Royals and an autism advocate, was instrumental in helping connect Tarik El-Abour and the Royals. Here is a video of the news conference where the Royals announced signing Tarik El-Abour.

Reggie Sanders said this about Tarik's major league baseball contract helping the autism community,
"Tarik doesn't realize what he's doing. But the beautiful thing is that it's so raw for him because he's focusing just on baseball. But he doesn't realize he's really helping the community, which is amazing (Reggie Sanders, Quoted by Maria Torres, The Kansas City Star, April 14, 2018)." 
Special thanks to Tarik El-Abour for being an Autism Light. We wish him the best of luck in his professional baseball career with the Kansas City Royals minor league system. May his achievement be an inspiration to others with autism who aspire to be professional athletes.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Holly Young

Autism Light #463 is Holly Young. 

Holly Young is an autism mother, retired police officer, and business owner from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her 8 year old son Roman has autism. She retired after 16 years as a police officer to open a business called Puzzle Pieces in order to provide a place where parents of children with autism and special needs could find appropriate toys. Holly Young is also known for filing a federal lawsuit in 2012 against the failure of Ohio to provide ABA therapy for her son. Holly Young is an Autism Light because of the way in which she has helped provide resources and set the stage for legal precedent that will make a tremendous difference for autism families in Ohio and around the country.

Puzzle Pieces: Puzzle Pieces is a store opened by Holly Young so that parents and their children with autism would have a place they could go to see and touch toys geared for their special needs. Puzzle Pieces had their grand opening on March 24, 2018. The store is located at the address 11912 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, Ohio.

The following is a news story on the opening of Puzzle Pieces.

Holly Young experienced frustration when she couldn't find a place to acquire therapy toys geared for autism, so she went into retirement from being a police officer in order to open Puzzle Pieces. Puzzle Pieces is not merely a business but a resource for the autism community in Ohio born from the passion of an autism mother that discovered a need for it.

Holly Young said, "Picking out a toy for a child is hard. Picking out a toy for an atypical child with sensory needs is very hard, so hopefully this will help bridge that gap for parents (As quoted by Nicole Pelletiere, ABC News, March 21, 2018).

Groundbreaking Lawsuit in Ohio for ABA Therapy: Holly Young had to fight the State of Ohio over the lack of ABA Therapy for her son Roman. Roman began receiving services in 2011 through the Help Me Grow program in Ohio when he was age 2. When the state refused to provide ABA therapy and services ended in August 2012, she and her husband David filed a lawsuit in December of that year. In January 2013 Judge Michael Barrett ruled in their favor of the Young's forcing Ohio to provide ABA services (WBRC News, January 15, 2013). In 2014 they received a settlement of $142,000 for the time that Roman went without treatment and how that impacted his development (, September 30, 2014). This case was inspirational and helpful in opening doors for countless other autism families by setting legal precedent regarding ABA therapy.

"Roman has paved the way for a lot of autistic children that are having the same problems we had. The United States Department of Education actually stepped in and said Ohio was not doing what they should be doing for children zero to three, Holly Young said (As quoted by Adrianne Kelly,, September 30, 2014).

Social Media: You can follow Puzzle Pieces at the Facebook page for Puzzle Pieces.

Special thanks to Holly Young for being an Autism Light. She is an inspiration for her dedication as an autism mother, and her willingness to take action in the public arena that is making a practical difference for other autism families in Ohio. The climate for autism is improved for many by the faithfulness of mothers like Holly Young who see a need and do what they can to meet that need, even though it involves sacrifice. We wish Holly Young and her store Puzzle Pieces much success.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sense-Ability School

Autism Light #462 is Sense-Ability School for Autism.

Sense-Ability School for Autism is the first and at this time only private school in the State of Montana dedicated to educating people with autism. The school was started in September 2017 by founders Sharon Altschwager and Rita Rowe-Watson. It is a 501 (c)(3) organization and is located at 1220 17th Street South in Great Falls, Montana. Sense-Ability School is an Autism Light because of their groundbreaking educational program that will help a cohort of students in Montana with autism and also serve as an example for other future schools.

Below is a news story on the beginning of Sense-Ability School.

At the founding of the school tuition was set at $21,000 a year. The school has been organizing regular fundraisers with the goal to provide a scholarship fund to help families with tuition costs. There will be a lead teacher for each group of 4 students and behavioral assistants that work with each student individually throughout the day (KRTV.Com, July 22, 2017). Patty Goodmundson, a licensed clinical counselor and educator for 29 years will serve as the school's first teacher. The school follows the Montana State Curriculum with academics in the morning and life skills in the afternoon, including art, drama, and equine therapy.

It is hoped that students with autism will be able to return to a public school after receiving a few years of help at Sense-Ability School. Rita Rowe who serves as the Vice President of the school said, "Public education system has provided a great service for most children with autism. However, they're are some that their needs just aren't being met, and our goal is to fill in that gap and get those kids ready and back into public school (As quoted by KRTV.Com, July 22, 2017)."

Social Media: You can follow Sense-Ability on social media by liking the Sense-Ability Facebook page. Below is an example of a recent post they shared about their leadership of a support group for parents.

Vision for Future: Sense-Ability has a vision for helping the community as the school evolves in the future. Sarah Dettmer of the Great Falls Tribune reported that Sharon Altschwager, "would like to expand Sense-Ability's offerings to include a one-stop center for people on the spectrum to find resources, counseling, and therapy. But until then, she said her focus is on providing social and emotional support to special needs children (Sarah Dettmer, Great Falls Tribune, October 31, 2017)."

Special thanks to the Sense-Ability School for Autism for being an Autism Light through their specific vision to serve the educational needs of some individuals with autism in Montana. We wish the school great success in the years ahead and hope that it will serve as an example for other autism educational initiatives in other areas of Montana and throughout the United States.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.