Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elina Manghi

Autism Light #140 is Dr. Elina Manghi.

Dr. Elina Manghi was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She was a renowned child psychologist who had lived in the Chicago area since 1982. Dr. Elina Manghi had lymphoma and died at her Oak Park, Illinois home on January 15, 2012. She was 59 years old. For more information on Dr. Elina Manghi you may read her obituary at the Chicago Tribune.

Dr. Elina Manghi is being made an Autism Light posthumously, because she was dedicated to making a difference for autism within Chicago's Hispanic community. She will also be added to the Autism Light Memorial Roll. While Dr. Manghi was a nationally appreciated child psychologist, the autism community remembers her most for helping found a support group in Chicago for Spanish-speaking families who had children with autism.

Here is an interview Elina Manghi gave on social change. It provides an understanding of her background and enthusiasm in making a difference in this world at her final position at the Adler School of Psychology.

Grupo Salto:  Dr. Elina Manghi and Irma Hernandez started Grupo SALTO in 2003. The name is an acronym in Spanish for Latino Autism Society Working with Optimism. The group has parent meetings as well as meetings for siblings and teenagers with autism. Presently 400 families are associated with the organization. Their website lists this as their mission:
Grupo SALTO is a non-profit organization dedicated to provide support for families who have children within the Autism spectrum and whose primary language is Spanish. The main focus of the group is to provide training, education, and support for parents. Grupo SALTO welcomes families from Chicago and its suburbs (Source). 
Irma Hernandez who helped start Grupo SALTO with Dr. Manghi said this about her friend and colleague:
She was so good at presenting information from material to parents. She developed very specific strategies and provided them with practical information to help them learn how to help their child. At the end of her talks, parents would gather around her, asking her questions and seeking her advice. It was as if they didn't want the session to end (Source). 
Career as a Psychologist: Dr. Manghi had a lifetime of service to children as a psychologist. The highlights of her professional career included:
Special thanks to Dr. Elina Manghi for being an Autism Light. Your light will live on in the hundreds of Spanish speaking families in the Chicago area that you have helped to deal with the challenges of autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This post went into syndication on Autisable.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Candice Hause

Autism Light #139 is Candice Hause.

Candice Hause is a senior at Shade-Central City High School in Cairnbrook, Pennsylvania. She has two siblings with autism, Leah age 5, and Blake age 4 (see photo above).  Candice's senior project will improve life for those with autism in two areas. The money raised will be split for a joint project to remodel a sensory room used by students with autism and to support an after school horseback therapy program. Candice Hause is an Autism Light because of her selection of a senior project that will benefit children who have autism, like her siblings.

Candice Hause said this to Autism Light about her project:
The reason I chose Autism for my senior project is because I realize how important it is to be diagnosed as soon as possible and to get the help needed to have the best outcome for the person with Autism. 
Candice Hause shared with Autism Light that she wants to help parents who might be unaware their child has autism, when she sees a situation in public. "I always want to say something, but fear it is not my place or what the reaction would be," said she said. This Senior project will help Candice make a difference without saying anything.  Here is the two sides of the project.

Sensory Room: Candice Hause plans to upgrade a school sensory room for students with special needs. It is not just used for autism. She indicated that, "Each one is different, so we'd like to add as many things as possible to help as many people as we can (Source)."

Horseback Therapy: The horseback riding therapy will be conducted by Best of Friends, a volunteer non-profit group. You can visit their website at http://best-of-friends.org to find out about the work of their organization. The value of horseback therapy is expressed a this poem at the Saddle Scoop website by John Anthony Davies.

Candice Hause is hoping to raise $5,000 for her project.  If you would like to contribute and help this Autism Light reach her goal to see it to completion then please email chause93@verizon.net for more information. Those who donate will receive a special handcrafted wooden memorablia made by Terry Schaffer, the Grandfather of Candice and her siblings. For more information on Candice Hause' senior project read the article published by the Hartford Courant.

Special thanks to Candice Hause for making autism her senior project. Candice is an example of the positive things a high school senior can do to help brighten the world of those with autism. If you liked this post you may wish to read other Autism Light posts about siblings of people with autism. They have the label of sibling on them.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post is used with permission of Candice Hause.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walmart Stores in Springfield, Illinois

Autism Lights #138 are the Walmart Stores in Springfield, Illinois.

There are three Walmart Stores in Springfield, Illinois. Through the Walmart corporation's regional donation program, the Springfield stores gave 10 flat screen televisions to the Hope Institute for Children and Families on October 24, 2011. The televisions are being used to outfit the school's group homes with latest technology. The Walmart Stores in Springfield, Illinois are Autism Lights because the donations of these television will improve the lives of children in the group homes and many of those children have autism.

Here is a video of a news story on this donation to the Hope Institute by Walmart.

The Hope Institute for Children and Families was founded in 1957. They have a multi-faceted program for people with disabilities in Springfield, Illinois. Many of the children in the program have autism and the organization led the development of the Autism Program of Illinois.  Mr. Clint Paul of The Hope Institute said:
Thanks to today's generous donation from Walmart, our youth will have access to state-of-the-art television receives which can be used for educational and entertainment purposes. We want to thank the entire Walmart organization, particularly Mr. Winkler and Ms. Farr, for their generosity in supporting the children of Hope (Source).

To learn more about what this donation has meant to the Hope School visit this news story at their website. Walmart's charitable commitment is explained on their website at this link.

Social Media: You can follow Walmart on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to the Walmart stores in Springfield, Illinois for the donation of televisions you made. Your generosity will help many children with autism to learn and recreate.

Note: Autism Light is a neutral blog and we have no relationship to the business featured in this post nor have we received any return of goods or services for writing this post.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Christopher Stevens

Autism Light #137 is Christopher Stevens.

As autism increases to epidemic proportions it is more frequently being mentioned by the media. But do writers who cover autism really understand firsthand the real people that journey with autism every day? Or are they just tourists visiting a foreign culture and land known as autism? Today's Autism Light has a special lens through which he can write about the subject of autism. Christopher Stevens is a journalist and writer from Bristol, England. He and his wife Nicky have two sons and their youngest David has autism. Christopher Stevens is an Autism Light because he is using the content he produces as a writer to share real stories about autism, that are able to spread autism awareness to the far corners of the earth in today's digital age.

Journalism Career: Christopher Stevens has been in journalism since he was 18 years old. Christopher Stevens has worked since 1998 as a senior revise sub-editor at the The Observer, which is the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world. Prior to coming to The Observer, he had worked for the Evesham Journal, the South Wales Echo, and then he was the books editor for the Western Daily Press. One of his predecessors as books editor for the Western Daily Press was Tom Stoppard.

National Autistic Society: 2012 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the National Autistic Society. The National Autistic Society is the leading charity for autism in the United Kingdom and over the years it has had a key role in giving support, services, and awareness of autism in the United Kingdom. Christopher Stevens said this about the milestone year for the organization:
I have been delighted to play a part in bringing together the Observer and the National Autistic Society in 2012: the newspaper will highlight the charity's work and raise awareness of the condition. The global popularity of the Guardian/Observer news website means, I believe, that people all over the world will gain a greater understanding of autism.
Author: Christopher Stevens has been the pen behind several autism related works that may interest people.

A Real Boy: Christopher Stevens' Memoir is the book A Real Boy, which was published in 2008. This book shares how their son David's autism affected their family and how he and his wife coped with it. This book is currently one of the recommended books in the Open University's autism module of the psychology degree course. You may purchase the book for Kindle at Amazon's page for the book.

A Girl Called Barney: Christopher Stevens wrote a fiction book called A Girl Called Barney. The story line of this book includes a single dad struggling to raise a toddler who has autism. You may purchase the book for Kindle at Amazon's page for the book.

Other Books: Christopher Stevens is the author of several other books that are not specifically connected to autism. You may review the list of those books on Amazon by visiting his Author's Page on Amazon.

Blogger: Christopher Stevens' website and blog at christopherstevens.info is a very helpful reference to the writer's works. There is also a Tumblr Blog with a detailed biography of Christopher Stevens.

For a taste of some of Christopher Stevens' other writings on autism check out these online articles.
Social Media: You can follow Christopher Stevens at the following social media areas:
In an experience that may inspire other fathers of children with autism, Christopher Stevens recounts some personal encouragement he found on a recent visit he and his son David made to Gloucester Cathedral.  When they arrived at the awesome Cathedral, David led his father like a laser beam to the candles in the church, his favorite place in the familiar facility. At the candles the two noticed some nearby steps to a recessed chapel and part of the Cathedral they had not visited before. Christopher Stevens describes what he found in this encounter with this previously unexplored area of the Gloucester Cathedral:
The walls of the chapel were beautifully decorated in a mosaic scene of patient, suffering figures, and above them in huge letters was a banner that read, 'Blessed is he who endureth.' I felt as if that message had been placed there for me, a hundred years or more earlier. The thought has given me a great deal of comfort, that sometimes all we have to do is endure and that is its own blessing.
Special thanks to Christopher Stevens for being an Autism Light. As an Autism father Christopher Stevens, deals with the same feelings and experiences that are unique to the autism community, and he has the influential opportunity as a journalist and author to put them to living words that are messages of awareness to the world.  Those words take on a life of their own, bringing hope, education, and encouragement as they are shared on paper and in electronic books, as well as in the 24 hour, 7 day a week presence of the Internet. The autism community is blessed to be able to follow the writings of an autism father who understands first hand the struggles we face every day.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo used in this post was used with the permission of Christopher Stevens.

This post went into syndication on Autisable

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nia T. Hill

Autism Light  #136 is Nia T. Hill.

Nia T. Hill is a Writer, Director and Producer from Los Angeles, California. Nia Hill is the Director/Producer of a Documentary film about autism called Colored My Mind. Nia Hill is an Autism Light because by creating the film Colored My Mind she is raising awareness of autism. The film will be especially important in showing how autism impacts the African American community.

Nia Hill has a storied career in the entertainment and media industry. Her first company was called the Solstice Group and then she went on to become the co-creator of Strange Fruit Films. Nia Hill's detailed biogaphy and a photo of her are available at the Strange Fruit Media Website. Her present venture is called Outer Child.

A biography on Nia Hill received at Autism Light described her this way:
Some set out to create their own path; others simply know their calling and carry out each task in light of this calling. Nia Hill is the perfect prototype of the latter. It's rare to find a triple threat who has been blessed with gifts to write, produce and direct with equal skill and passion. A force to be reckoned with ever since her undergraduate career at The University of Oklahoma, to her current venture with Outer Child, and all that has developed in between. Hill has set out to spread knowledge and light in all realms of media.
Here is a trailer of Colored My Mind. The film is expected to be released in early 2012.

Nia Hill's autism film Colored My Mind features the stories of 5 women from the African American community who have children with autism. The five mothers featured in this documentary are Tammy McCrary, Shannon Nash, LaDonna Hughley, Donna Hunter, and Tisha Campbell-Martin. The film's official website is at www.coloredmymind.com. You can also follow the film on their Facebook page. The film has already been presented to the White House and Congress in Washington D.C. in an effort to share the specific autism related needs of the African American community. This film should give legislators information about how pending and future federal autism legislation can impact this demographic.

Special thanks to Nia Hill for bringing this documentary called Colored My Mind to the autism community. We look forward to seeing it and learning much from the stories it will tell.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post was used with the permission of an agent of Nia Hill.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marco Rubio

Autism Light Classic
Updated on May 30, 2015.

Autism Light #135 is Marco Rubio.

The Honorable Marco Rubio serves as a member of the United Sates Senate, representing the state of Florida. He has served in the Senate since 2010. He was born on May 28, 1971, in Miami, Florida to Cuban immigrants, who came to America in 1958 (Rubio Biography). Sen. Rubio's passion to help those with autism has been evident through his advocacy and leadership on behalf of autism friendly legislation. Sen. Marco Rubio is an Autism Light because his political leadership has been a light to those with autism. This light for autism has shone brightly in both the Florida State House and in the United States Senate.

Presidential Candidate: On April 13, 2015, Marco Rubio declared his candidacy to run for President of the United States in the 2016 election. In conjunction with this he will not be seeking re-election to the Senate seat from Florida he has held since 2010.

Puzzle Pieces of Our Community: On October 14, 2011, Sen. Marco Rubio's longtime political efforts for the cause of autism were recognized at a "Puzzle Pieces of Our Community" event sponsored by Autism Speaks. The following is a video of a portion of the keynote speech Sen. Rubio gave at this event.

Florida Autism Insurance Legislation: Sen. Marco Rubio represented the 111th District of the Florida House of Representatives from 2000-2008. He served as the Speaker of the House for the 2007-2008 session. On April 4, 2008, he helped create the House Select Committee on Autism and Developmental Disorders in the Florida Legislator. As Speaker of the Florida House, Sen. Rubio was instrumental in passing legislation for autism insurance reform in Florida in 2008. The Florida House in 2008 had passed a piece of legislation that would mandate insurance coverage for many children with autism and other disabilities. However, the Florida Senate rejected that measure and offered a bill back to the House that only covered 14% of the cases of autism and no other disabilities. Though disappointed and noticeably moved by the number of children with autism and other disabilities left uncovered in the Senate version of the bill, Sen. Rubio advocated adopting it. He felt that helping some children was better than rejecting the bill and helping none. The following is a video of that emotional vote in the Florida House with Speaker Rubio's remarks, including support from Rep. Gardner, the father of a child with Downs Syndrome (a condition not covered in the final bill).

100 Ideas Conference: Following his service in the Florida House in 2008, Sen. Marco Rubio's work for autism continued as he sponsored a 100 Ideas Conference on Autism in September, 2008.  The Autism Health and Wellness Blog reported on the conference and said the following:
The Autism Wellness Foundation viewed Speaker Rubio's 100 Ideas conference as extremely beneficial to promoting better options for children with autism, not least because of the conference's goal to implement the best of ideas raised (the top 100 of them, to be precise).
Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011: Sen. Marco Rubio was a co-sponsor of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 (CARA), which President Barak Obama signed into law on September 30, 2011. The support for CARA crossed party lines and was also sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, Autism Light #54.

Wristband: The Autism Policy and Politics blog reported that Sen. Marco Rubio has a practice of wearing a wrist band in support of autism. Because of the history that Sen. Rubio has in working tirelessly for autism, his autism awareness wrist band is much more than symbolism.

Other Links: For more information on Sen. Marco Rubio visit these Websites.
Social Media: You can follow Sen. Marco Rubio at these social media areas.
Special thanks to Marco Rubio for taking a stand for autism in both the Florida House and the United States Senate. The autism community is grateful for the bipartisan support of legislators who care about the rights and needs of those with autism in the United States.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post of Sen. Marco Rubio is in the Public Domain. It was obtained from Wikipedia.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eric Duquette

Autism Light #134 is Eric Duquette.

Eric Duquette is from Smithfield, Rhode Island. Eric has autism and in 2010 he was the Salutatorian for Smithfield High School. His high school graduation speech was inspiring and was a demonstration of an amazing accomplishment. That was almost two years ago and in 2012 he inspires the autism community by his continued success in college. Eric Duquette is an Autism Light because he shines as an example of perseverance and dedication necessary to succeed in life with autism.

In his 2010 graduation speech Eric Duquette said, "My parents were told I would most likely end up in an institution. I stand before you accepted into every institution of higher learning I applied to (Source)."

WPRI 12 News: WPRI 12 Eyewitness News did the following feature in 2010 at the time of Eric Duquette's graduation as Salutatorian of Smithfield High School.

ABC News American Heart: Diane Sawyer did a report on Eric Duquette for ABC News American Heart. A written report of the story is at this link and ABC News has also placed a video of the speech  on their YouTube Channel.

Advice for Students: Autism Light asked Eric what advice he might have for students with autism to be successful in school. He said that two keys are:
  1. Having the courage to ask for accommodations (help) if it is needed. 
  2. Trying to know at least one student in each class that can be a potential study partner.
Judy Duquette (Eric's mother) said the only accommodation that Eric receives is extra time on his exam if he needs it. She wrote Autism Light that:
You need to know that Eric spends almost all of his time (up to 10 hours a day) studying (outside of class time). He is ridiculous. He has a great work ethic but, as a parent, I wish he would stop and smell the roses once in a while. He holds himself to very high standards that most of us will never meet.
College Years: Eric Duquette chose to attend Rhode Island College. He is currently a Sophomore at Rhode Island College, where he is studying biology with the goal to be a Pharmacist one day. He was recently a speaker for Diversity week at Rhode Island College and a What's News Online article was written about him.

Pharmacy Program: On March 17, 2012, Eric was accepted into the Pharmacy Program at the University of Rhode Island. This is the next step in his goal and dream to be a Pharmacist.

Special thanks to Eric Duquette for being an example of the amazing accomplishments people with autism can have. Your life accomplishments and advocacy for disability awareness are inspiring.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photos in this post are used with the permission of Judy Duquette.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gail Walsh

Autism Light #133 is Gail Walsh.

Gail Walsh of Cinnaminson, New Jersey died on Thursday, January 19, 2012, in an automobile accident. Gail Walsh was 57 years old and she is survived by her husband Dan and two autistic sons--Dylan, age 19, and Cody, age 16. Gail Walsh is being named an Autism Light posthumously because of her passionate work for raising money for the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter of Autism Speaks and she will be added to the Autism Light Memorial Roll.

Here is a news story on the tragedy that claimed Gail Walsh's life.

View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.

Autism Speaks Volunteer: Gail Walsh was passionate about helping Autism Speaks raise money to find a cure for autism that she hoped would help her two sons Dylan and Cody. She had worked for over a decade to support Autism Speaks. Gail Walsh and her family had raised about $100,000 for Autism Speaks in the past several years. Christina Carty, the executive director of the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter of Autism Speaks said Gail Walsh "brought together so many people to support our cause. Her entire family were leaders for our chapter, and she was among the top fundraisers every year (Source)." The Delaware Valley Chapter of Autism Speaks had planned to honor Gail Walsh at an event on February 3, 2012. 

Funeral: Gail Walsh's funeral was held on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Palmyra, New Jersey. Gail Walsh's online obituary is at this link.

Memorial Donations: Donations in Gail Walsh's memory can be made to Autism Speaks, Greater Delaware Valley Chapter at their website or by mail at 216 Haddon Ave, Suite 403, Westmont, N.J. 08108.

The following news articles have been written about Gail Walsh's accident.
The autism community will miss the energy and example of Gail Walsh. It is the hope that as respects and honors are paid to her that others will capture that infectious desire to find a cure for autism and carry forth Gail's unfinished work. Let's keep our thoughts and prayers with Gail's family at this time.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Theresa Noye

Autism Light #132 is Theresa Noye.

Theresa Noye is a native of Brooklyn, New York, who lives today in St. David's, Pennsylvania. Her son Regal has autism. Parents do a variety of things in response to having a child with autism. Today's Autism Light is a singer, songwriter, and worship leader. Theresa Noye is an Autism Light because as she writes and sings about her faith she is also reflecting on her personal autism journey. As a public figure with an amazing musical talent, she is also an advocate for autism awareness and is using part of the proceeds of this project to raise support for her son's autism therapy. 

Eastern University: Theresa Noye lives on the campus of Eastern University (formerly Eastern College), where she serves as a Resident Director and is a Chapel Worship Team Advisor. Theresa Noye has a passion to make a difference in the lives of college students.
Theresa Noye said this about her faith and music and its relationship to her journey with autism.

Parenting a child with autism is a gift. This journey is teaching me to love. Laughter has been my medicine. My faith has challenged me to embrace community and believe that nothing is impossible for my child. Through music I've been able to express my fears, pains and longings to God. He responds back to me with a song. Songs that strengthen, encourage and inspire...reminding us that we are never alone; no never alone.
Here is a video on YouTube of Theresa Noye singing the signature song You Saw Me from her debut album by the same name.

If you like the song You Saw Me, you can purchase it at iTunes or Amazon. According to her agent Gregory Greene, "All of the songs on Theresa's music project "You Saw Me" were written or co-written by her. They represent times from her personal worship, drawing on her faith and her family's journey through autism with her son - Regal. A portion of the proceeds from this project will benefit Regal's Walk, a fundraising and awareness initiative for the support of Regal's home therapy program and for educating families in the inner city."

Social Media: Theresa Noye can be followed on these social media areas. 
A great source for information on Theresa Noye is her website at www.theresanoye.com. There are a variety of resources on the website, including some free downloads of her music and it includesher bio. For more information on Theresa Noye's music or events you may email info@theresanoye.comor contact her agent Gregory Greene by phone (215) 964-7092 or email greene@cool-beans.us.  

Special thanks to Theresa Noye for sharing her gift of worship music and being an inspirational part of the autism family. The angelic voice of Theresa Noye is a fitting addition to the group of stellar Autism Light musicians, several of which are mothers of children with autism like Theresa. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post was used with the permission of Theresa Noye's agent.

This post went into syndication on Autisable.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Olaf Kolzig

Autism Light #131 is Olaf Kolzig.

Olaf "Olie" Kolzig is a German citizen who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He currently lives in the Washington DC area. Olaf Kolzig has a son named Carson who has autism. Olaf was a professional hockey player who played 17 years in the National Hockey League. Olaf Kolzig is an Autism Light because of the personal impact that his foundation and humanitarian work is doing for the cause of autism.

The following is a heartwarming news story done in 2008 on the impact Olaf Kolzig had on the Atmore-Gilbertsen family from Arlington, Virginia.

Athletes Against Autism: In 2006, Olie Kolzig founded Athletes Against Autism along with fellow hockey players Byron Dafoe and Scott Mellanby. If one looks closely at the photo at top of this post, one can see the logo for Athletes Against Autism that Olie Kolzig passionately wore on the back of his helmet when he played. Athletes Against Autism is now associated with Autism Speaks and is responsible for helping athletes make positive contributions to autism awareness. Also, in 2006 Olaf Kolzig received the King Clancy Memorial Award by the NHL for his humanitarian work.

ECHL: Before playing in the National Hockey League, Olie Kolzig played two seasons in the ECHL. In 2010 Olaf Kolzig was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame. The following is his Hall of Fame Tribute Video. 

NHL: Except for a brief final season of 8 games with Tampa Bay, Olie Kolzig played his entire NHL career for the Washington Capitals as a star goalie. His 303 wins puts him in the top 25 all-time for NHL goalies. In 2011 he returned to the Washington Capitals to work as their Associate Goaltender Coach.

Carson Kolzig Foundation: Olaf Kolzig started the Carson Kolzig Foundation in honor of his son who has autism. The website for the Carlson Kolzig Foundation is at http://carsonkolzigfoundation.org. According to the website the "Carlson Kolzig Foundation is a nonprofit, community based organization in Tri-Cities, Washington, dedicated to education and resources for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families." The Carson Kolzig Foundation developed the Responding to Autism Center to help meet needs of families with autism. The following is a video about the Responding to Autism Center's work.

Other Stories: For more information on Olaf Kolzig read these articles:
Social Media: You can follow Olaf Kolzig on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Olaf Kolzig for using his athletic star to be an Autism Light. His diverse international background is a testimony to the fact that autism knows no geographical boundary.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo of Olaf Kolzig in this post was taken from the Creative Commons of Wikipedia.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dream for Autism Wiki

One of my dreams is that someday we will have a freely accessible and constantly evolving information website like Wikipedia, but a Wiki style system that is focused specifically on subjects related to the international autism community. We could call it Autipedia or something similarly fitting.

In order to have a page on the site the subject will have to have some connection to autism, as a person, resource, or organization. Celebrities included will need to have at least said or done something consequential in public discourse about autism. Unlike Wikipedia the people featured won't have to be famous in any respect, because all types of diverse stories can help the autism community find solutions to challenges.

Here is an overview of how Wikipedia works. A similar type of system could have value for the autism community and be a key reference in research on the many voices and resources of autism around the word.

I realize it may be a challenge to get this project underway because of the reality of the project.
  • This idea won't make any person famous. Instead it will empower people with knowledge and the opportunity to volunteer to participate in writing the story of autism. Content will be edited and categorized by a large group of volunteers and the subjects who have pages should be encouraged to self-edit so their information remains current. After all Wikipedia is what is because it's always being updated by volunteers and the original creators are somewhat of an afterthought today. 
  • This idea will not make anyone money. Donations will be needed to cover the cost of server space and the system, which possibly an autism foundation will want to back. Like Wikipedia no advertisements should be allowed, because that would possibly influence the neutrality of the presentation of the information. 
  • This idea won't promote a specific theory or treatment above others. It will be inclusive and include all ideas on autism, even the ones that reasonable minds differ about their value. 
Ronald Reagan said, "You can accomplish much if you don't care who gets the credit." I'm presenting this on the Internet in hopes that someone with the resources and maybe another someone with the technical background will feel the passion to help it come to fruition.

Contact me at autismlight@gmail.com if you have an interest in this. Quite possibly the concept has already been birthed somewhere and if so I'd love to be part of an existing project seeking to accomplish this. I believe this is a great idea, but I am only one person and can not do it alone. If you support this idea please leave a comment to that effect, so that others may see the level of interest.

Photo: The photo in this post was taken from Wikipedia and is in the Wikipedia Commons.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jose` Henriquez

Autism Light #130 is Jose` Henriquez.

Jose` Henriquez is an evangelical preacher from Chile. He survived the mining disaster in Chile in 2010 and was also known as Miner #24. Jose` Henriquez is an Autism Light because he shared a hope with the autism community on World Autism Sunday in 2011 that their would be a light at the end of the tunnel just like there was for him and 32 other men who were trapped for 69 days in the Chile mine disaster before they were rescued. Jose` Henriquez becomes the first Autism Light from the continent of South America.

Mining Rescue: The Chile Mining Disaster in 2010 was an inspirational story of 33 lives being saved even though they were trapped in a mine for 69 days. The following is a video of Jose` Henriquez being rescued from the mine.

Autism Sunday: While he was touring the United Kingdom, Jose` Henriquez gave words of hope on February 13, 2011 for Autism Sunday (this day is also known as the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Aspergers Syndrome). The message was directed at all parents and carers of children and adults with autism. Jose` Henriquez said:
All you parents with autistic children may feel at times that you are just like being down a mine. God gave me and my fellow miners a real hope and He wants to give that to you (Source). 
Autism Ribbons Presented to Jose` Henriquez: An article at I Love Chile shares about when during his tour of the United Kingdom, Jose received Autism Ribbons from Ivan Corea, the founder of Autism Sunday.

Other Information: More information on the Chile mining disaster and rescue can be read at these links:
Special thanks to Jose` Henriquez for being an Autism Light and using your story of surviving the mine to wish hope and blessings for the autism community. May your strength, story, and message bring the autism community encouragement.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Charles Jones

Autism Light #129  is Charles Jones. 

Charles Jones is from New York City and is a film director. Charles' son Malik has autism and he created a feature length Autism Awareness documentary about the perspective of fathers dealing with autism in their family. Charles Jones is an Autism Light because he is using his film production skills to raise awareness for autism and to help fathers understand that there are resources available for them and that they are not alone.

Autistic Like Me: Charles Jones has created a film on autism called Autistic Like Me: A Father's Perspective. The film will share the inspirational journey of five fathers from diverse paths of life whose children have been diagnosed with autism. In the film Charles Jones will also share his own challenges and victories of raising his own son Malik who has autism.

Charles has attempted to help fathers participating in the film deal with their feelings about having a child with autism and the release will hopefully open a window to the hearts of fathers on the journey called autism. Presently a 20 minute "clinical version" of the film is being piloted in New York which will highlight the benefits of therapy and clinical support. Most of the footage for this pilot version comes from a retreat that Dr. Robert Naseef facilitated for 14 fathers.

Charles Jones says on his website that this film "examines the difficult emotional journey experienced by fathers of autistic children. Having an autistic child turns a parent's world upside down. Dreams are broken and lives are changed forever. Men are especially affected because we often do not seek out the support network needed to deal with this type of emotional upheaval."

Here is the trailer for the documentary called Autistic Like Me.

The complete film is expected to be released in early 2012 and will share an inclusive look at fathers dealing with autism. The official website of the film is at www.autisticlikeme.net. The following is a video of Charles Jones explaining what inspired him to make the documentary Autistic Like Me.

Awareness Campaign: Charles Jones is not content to merely make a documentary that will be successful for its excellent workmanship, popularity, and inspirational message.  Autistic Like Me is the centerpiece for an awareness and advocacy campaign "that reaches young people, under-served communities and general audiences where services and understanding of autism are limited, or nonexistent (Source: Autistic Like Me Fact Sheet)." The project has a partnership with Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and it is fiscally sponsored by the Bronx Lebanon Integrated Services System, Inc., a 501c3 organization.  All tax-deductible donations should be made out to BLISS Inc. and ALM Production should be written in the memo line. They may be sent to Autistic Like Me LLC, 209 E. 56th St. Apt. 8H, New York, NY 10022. 

Other Work: Here are some other projects that Charles Jones has experience with.
  • He has done commercial and industrial projects for companies like Kodak film, Delta Airlines, and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. 
  • He has been a lighting designer/gaffer and a director of photography/camera operator for TV companies such as BET Network, Sci Fi Channel, and NYC Media. 
  • He has written and directed a number of music videos and he is currently working on multiple projects for the Open Society Foundations, "Campaign for Black Male Achievement." 
  • He is the owner of Frontline Editing and Video Production, a production company that provides a full compliment of related directing, producing, lighting, sound, photography, and editing services. Some of his other projects can be viewed on his Frontline Website.
Social Media: You can follow Charles Jones' work at the following social media areas.
Other Articles: The following other featured articles have been written on Charles Jones.
Special thanks to Charles Jones for being an Autism Light and making a documentary on autism awareness from the perspective of fathers. We look forward to seeing this film and learning much from it. If you liked this post you may like to view all the Autism Lights with the label Father.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post was used with permission of Charles Jones.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alex Swigart

Autism Light #128 is Alex Swigart.

Alex Swigart died on April 2, 2011 at the age of 12, when his home near Bisbee Junction, Arizona caught on fire. Alex had autism and is an Autism Light because he saved the life of his father Joseph Swigart and a family friend who was in the house at the time of the fire. Alex Swigart is being added posthumously to the Autism Light Memorial Roll. He is the first person with autism to be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll.

When the family home caught on fire, Alex Swigart was the first in the family to smell smoke and he woke his father Joseph Swigart. This quick action probably saved his father's life. In the chaos of the fire exit, Alex separated from his father and was trapped in the house. The fire engulfed the home quickly and he could not be saved.

Here is a video of the news story about the fire that took the life of Alex Swigart.

Facebook: A Memorial Page on Facebook has been established for Alex Swigart that anyone can join at this link.

For more information on Alex Swigart and this tragedy you can find read the following online stories:
Despite the time that has elapsed since this tragedy, Alex Swigart continues to be in the hearts of his family and classmates at Lowell Junior High School. Alex Swigart was a hero to wake up his father when he discovered the fire. Alex Swigart's story shows both how helpful children with autism can be and that they are especially at risk in emergency situations.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, January 16, 2012

King Richard

Autism Light #127 is King Richard.

Autism Light wants to wish everyone a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today we honor a young man with autism who is a super special fan of the late Martin Luther King, Jr.  His public and private devotion to his hero as well as how he represents individuals with autism is an inspiration. I think that if Martin Luther King, Jr. had experienced the rise in autism cases in his lifetime that we see today, he would have been involved in some significant way fighting for justice in health insurance and education for those with autism.

King Richard's full name is David Kingston Richard. He goes by "King", which is short for Kingston and is also fitting because of how he points to Martin Luther King, Jr. as his hero. King is a young adult from Pensacola, Florida. King has autism and despite limited communication skills, he is able to communicate through music. King Richard is an Autism Light because he utilizes his variety of talents and skills to be an inspiration to others. King Richard demonstrates that those with autism (in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.) SHALL OVERCOME! 

Martin Luther King, Jr.: It would be an understatement to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. is King Richard's hero. One of King's favorite books growing up was about Martin Luther King, Jr. When he was 13 years old and heard that teens in his church were giving speeches on Martin Luther King, Jr., he said to his surprised mother,"King want to talk about Martin Luther King. King want to give speech." King's Mother, Ann Richard, was hesitant to expose her son to this risk of public failure, but the speech went forward as King and his father David insisted. King gave his short speech on Martin Luther King Jr. in church perfectly and even led the congregation in the Lord's Prayer. Ann Richard subsequently wrote an article about this time for Guideposts called The Sunday I Let Go and it can be read at this link.

Often people outgrow their teenage idols but not so for King Richard. While millions honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on the day set aside each year as a holiday, King Richard thinks about him through out the year, because he visits the statute of Martin Luther King, Jr.in Pensacola, Florida twice a week to honor him.

Music: King Richard has shared his vocal singing at a variety of venues. The following is a video of King singing the United States National Anthem from his YouTube Channel.

Spirit of Life Award - 2009:  King sang the above National Anthem at a ceremony in 2009, where he received the "Spirit of Life" Award from the Pensacola Civitans Club. The Autism Society of Pensacola wrote an article in their newsletter about King receiving award and saying this about King Richard:
He is a member of Jehovah Lutheran Church where he sings in the youth choir. Recently he has sung the National Anthem at the Special Olympics Games, the Annual Autism Dinner, the annual Walk-4-Autism, Senior Honors Awards Night at his High School, UWF Disability Awareness Day, at a Pensacola Pelicans Ballgame- and now he has sung for Pensacola Civitans (Source). 
Community Awareness:  King Richard is a advocate for autism awareness in Pensacola, Florida and beyond. Ann Richard writes this about King's activities:
In a voluntary capacity, King has helped to raise Autism Awareness within his community by making appearances at many community events, churches, and attending fundraisers and charitable events. He has raised Autism Awareness in such a profound way locally, and nationally. More importantly, he has helped to break down barriers and sterotypes associated with his condition. For many who know King's outstanding achievements and contributions to this community, we can say with certainty that his life has impacted the lives of many and has made a difference in the world.
Modeling: King's photogenic qualities have given him the opportunity to model for the photo illustration needs of several organizations. King is a Poster Child for the National Autism Society of America, which means his photo is used around the world at autism conferences. King has also been featured on the cover of several autism related magazines, including Autism Aspergers Digest, Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and Exceptional Parenting Magazine.

Parents:  King's life has been so successful in large part to the dedication and support of his faithful parents David and Ann Richard. Ann Richard is an autism speaker and has published a book and wrote nationally syndicated articles about King and their family's life with autism. Find out about them at the following links.
King Richard Foundation: The King Richard Foundation, Inc. has been established as a 501c3 nonprofit organization to help send children from low-income families affected by autism and other disabilities to camp.  Their "Send a Kid to Camp" project raises small donations for the foundation. Last year they sent 3 kids to camp and will send more as they raise further funds each year. The foundation also has a "Give a Kid a Coat Project". For more information visit the foundation's website at www.thekingrichardfoundation.org, write The King Richard Foundation, Inc., 2322 Amelia Lane, Pensacola, Florida 32526 or call 1-850-944-9408.

King Richard graduated in 2009 from Booker T. Washington High School and sang the National Anthem during the Senior Awards Night. King is presently attending classes at the Transition Employee Center (TEC) that is operated by United Cerebral Palsy. This training is preparing King for the work force.

Special thanks to King Richard for being an inspiration to many in the autism community. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been very proud to have such a fine young man call him his hero and because of that and so much more we call King Richard today's Autism Light.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post of King Richard was used with the permission of Ann Richard.

The photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. is in the Creative Commons of Wikipedia and is from the National Archives and Records Administration.

This Autism Light post went into syndication on Autisable.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Matthew Echan

Autism Light #126 is Matthew Echan. 

Matthew Echan is from Orange County, California. His son Josiah has autism. Matthew Echan is a folk singer and song writer, as well as the Lead Social Skills Instructor at Autism Spectrum Therapies. Matthew Echan is an Autism Light because of the way his work raises awareness of autism and helps teach skills to people with autism. Matthew also brings to light in his writings and song lyrics the feelings of a father of a child with autism.

Matthew Echan has written several songs for his son Josiah. This song is called Beautiful Son. Josiah means "God Heals, God Protects." This song was written as a song of hope for Josiah's recovery from autism.

Beautiful Son from Matthew Echan on Vimeo

This is the video of the song Shepherd of Man which Matthew Echan wrote to teach his son Josiah about prayer. You can purchase the song from iTunes or from this website.

Pathways to Peers: Matt Echan is the founder of Pathways to Peers. According to his Twitter account this is a "Non-profit organization providing social-vocational skills through self-management and personal planning to individuals with ASD."

Dad Seizes the Day: Matt Echan wrote an article called An Autism Dad Seizes the Day. In this article he says about his son Josiah:
It's officially Autism Awareness Month, and seven years later, I'm still waking up with the hope that maybe the Autism will be gone today. Nope. I know it as soon as I hear him asking for some "ceweal." I pat him on the head and kiss his forehead. I just want him to know I love him. He doesn't really seem to care, but I've learned not to take it personally (Source).
Social Media: You can follow Matt Echan's work on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Matthew Echan for being an Autism Light through music, teaching, and sharing the feelings of a father's perspective of autism. We are looking forward to hearing many more autism related blessings in the future from Matthew Echan's vocation and passions. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This post went into syndication on Autisable.