Friday, September 27, 2013

Los Angeles Dodgers

Autism Light #312 is the Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are a Major League Baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The organization started in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Los Angeles in 1958. The Los Angeles Dodgers are an Autism Light for designating one of their home games as an autism awareness day game and for making a difference for cause of autism in the Los Angeles area.

2013 Autism Awareness Day: On August 14, 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers held their 2nd Annual Autism Awareness Day at Dodger stadium for the game where the Dodgers hosted the New York Mets (Los Angeles Dodgers Host Autism Awareness Day). There was a special recogition of the autism community at the game and the Los Angeles Dodgers donated a portion of ticket sales to the Los Angeles chapter of Autism Speaks.

Holly Robinson-Peete (Autism Light #100) sang the National Anthem for this occasion and George Lopez threw out the first pitch. The game also provided the opportunity for the public to recognize Patrick Brady and some successful members of the Exceptional Minds vocational program (Autism Student Knocks It Out of the Park at Dodger Stadium, PRWEB, August 16, 2013). 

Here is a video of highlights from the those who were at the autism awareness game. 

Here is a tweet from Autism Speaks-Los Angeles after the event.

Stephanie's Day: The Los Angeles Dodgers also supported and participated in the 2013 Stephanies Day Resource Fair which was held on June 8, 2013 and sponsored by CBS LA (Dodgers Community Relations, Pitching in the Community, June 13, 2013). Autism father Steve Mauldin founded Stephanie's Day over 15 years ago and the event provides an excellent opportunity for families impacted by autism in the Greater Los Angeles area to receive important information on autism resources (A Proud Father Tells What His Daughter and Stephanies' Day Means to Him, CBS Los Angeles, July 11, 2012). 

History: The Los Angeles Dodgers have a long history of winning titles and they were the 2013 National League West Division Champions. Here is a video of some of the greatest moments in Los Angeles Dodgers history. 

You can learn more about the Los Angeles Dodgers on the Wikipedia Page of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Social Media: You can follow the Los Angeles Dodgers on the following social media.
Special thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers for being Autism Light and supporting autism awareness in the Los Angeles area. It is a tremendous gift to autism when a baseball club like the Los Angeles Dodgers bring their winning efforts on behalf of the cause of autism. We wish the Dodgers success in their ongoing efforts on and off the baseball field.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Marc Leber

Autism Light #311 is Marc Leber.

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Marc Leber is from Suffolk, Virginia and is a first year student at Georgia Institute of Technology. While in high school Marc Leber competed in 16 Team Hoyt VB races with a 14 year old partner with autism named Ashton McCormick. Marc Leber is an Autism Light for making a positive difference in Ashton McCormick's life.

Marc Leber was a cross-country and track star when he was in high school at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. Marc holds several long-distance records at his high school. You can see the record of his high school track career at Marc Leber's page on

Here is a video highlighting Marc Leber and Ashton McCormick's relationship that they have forged through Team Hoyt races.

"Ashton loves being in the water," said Marc Leber. "So I kind of take it as a responsibility to make him happy. That's kind of why I run. I put myself through a lot of physical pain to give him that feeling, to make him feel like he is really number one in the world, like he is in first place, like he is an Olympic marathon runner every single time (From Above YouTube Video)."

"Something clicked between the two of them," Ashton's mother Jen McCormick said. "I'm not quite sure how to describe it. Ashton needed a friend, and he found someone who understands him and just lets him be who he is (Quoted in The Virginian Pilot, Star Runner Autistic Boy Form Unexpected Friendship, August 26, 2013)."

Social Media: You can follow Marc Leber on the following social media areas:
Special thanks to Marc Leber for being an Autism Light. It is truly amazing to see how friendships between neuro-typical individuals and those with autism can enrich the lives of all of those concerned.  We wish Marc Leber all the best in college and life. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jamie McMurray

Autism Light #310 is Jamie McMurray.

Jamie McMurray is a NASCAR Driver and has a niece who has autism. He who won both the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in 2010. Jamie McMurray was born on June 3, 1976, in Joplin, Missouri and lives in Mooresville, North Carolina today. For over 5 years Jamie McMurray has been promoting autism awareness through his position in NASCAR. Jamie McMurray is an Autism Light for being an autism uncle and for raising awareness and funds for autism for over a decade as a successful NASCAR driver.

NASCAR Record: Jamie McMurray holds the record for the quickest NASCAR start as he won the 2002 UAW-GM Quality 500 as a substitute driver in just his 2nd Career NASCAR start. Jamie McMurray won both the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in 2010 and was only the 3rd driver in history to win both of these races in the same year. Jamie McMurray presently drives the No. 1 Chevrolet SS in the Sprint Cup Series for Earnhardt Ganassing Racing (Read More at Jamie McMurray's Wikipedia Page). The Yahoo Sports Page for Jamie McMurray has the career statistics for Jamie McMurray.

The following is a Public Service Announcement by Autism Speaks and the Ad Council that featured Jamie McMurray.

Jamie McMurray Foundation:  Jamie McMurray is the President of the Jamie McMurray Foundation that helps the autism community. The foundation lists this as their mission:
The Jamie McMurray Foundation (JMF) promotes awareness of, and raises funding for, the research, education, and support of inviduals and families afflicted with autism. JMF is dedicated to bringing the financial backing and support of the NASCAR community, together with the passion and commitment of the autism community, to promote better understanding of this challenging disability (Read More at the Jamie McMurray Foundation's Website).
You may support the Jamie McMurray Foundation by sending a check payable to the Jamie McMurray Foundation to P.O. Box 3460, Mooresville, North Carolina 28117-3460. You can also donate through the Jamie McMurray Foundation Donation Paypal Account. For charity requests or other information email

The following is an interview with Jamie McMurray conducted back in 2008, when he shared about his passion for autism that inspired him to create the Jamie McMurray Foundation.

Autism Speaks Day at the Races: Jamie McMurray was at the "Autism Speaks Day at the Races" in 2013. Jamie McMurray said about the event, "I enjoyed the chance to meet some of the families last year at this event. The whole weekend at Dover is great, with all the attention that it generates for autism awareness (Read More in an Article by Health Day on Jamie McMurray)." There is a YouTube video of Jamie talking to a young fan at the Autism Speaks Day at the Races

Drive for Autism Celebrity AM Golf Tournament: Jamie McMurray participates in the Drive for Autism Celebrity AM Golf Tournament, comprised of NASCAR drivers, some like Jamie who have personal family connections to autism. In 2013, $506,000 was raised for autism at the event. The next Drive for Autism will be on May 29, 2014 (Read More at the Drive for Autism on the Autism Delaware Website).

Social Media: You can follow Jamie McMurray at the following social media areas:
Wikipedia: You can learn more about Jamie McMurray at Jamie McMurray's Wikipedia Page.

Special thanks to Jamie McMurray for being an Autism Light. We wish this Autism Uncle the best in his NASCAR races and for his continued advocacy on behalf of autism.

Note: This article is dedicated to my brother in-law, Eric Hostetler, who is both an autism uncle and NASCAR fan.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ethan Walmark

Autism Light #309 is Ethan Walmark. 

Article Header for Ethan Walmark Autism Light Number 309

Ethan Walmark is an 8 year old boy from Westport, Connecticut, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2. His parents call him their "perfectly imperfect son". Ethan has gained national attention for the amazing talent he has at playing the piano. Ethan Walmark is an Autism Light for his demonstration of the extraordinary musical talent that springs forth from someone with autism, and for how that gift is blessing others.

Thousands from both in and outside the autism community were introduced to Ethan Walmark when a video made of him playing Billy Joel's Piano Man went viral on April 25, 2012. Here is an Autism Speaks video of Ethan Walmark performing that same piece at an Autism Speaks to Wall Street: 6th Annual Celebrity Chef Gala in New York City on October 9, 2012.

Praise from Billy Joel: Billy Joel has commented on Ethan Walmark's talented use of his music saying, "I think I like his intro to 'Piano Man' better than mine. And this kid plays with a lot more energy than me. Maybe he could teach me a few things  (Read the Billy Joel Quote in the Washington Post)."

Meeting John Mayer: Ethan Walmark was able to meet his idol John Mayer recently. Ethan's mother, Allison Walmark, wrote an article about Ethan meeting John Mayer on an Autism Speaks blog (Read Allison Walmark's Article on John Mayer Meeting Ethan Walmark). The following is the YouTube video prepared when Ethan was inviting John Mayer to meet with him.

NBC's Today Show:  On May 2, 2012, Ethan Walmark was featured on NBC's Today Show. You can learn about that appearance at in an article about Ethan Walmark on the Today Show at the Autism Speaks Website.

Light It Up Blue 2013: Ethan Walmark joined Autism Ambassador Yoko Ono on April 2, 2013, to turn the switch to light up the Empire State Building to start Autism Awareness Month in 2013 (Read More about Light It Up Blue at the She Knows Website).

Fundraisers: Ethan has been scheduled to play at at a variety of fundraisers across the country. On August 8, 2013, he peformed at the Cabinets Furniture & More's fundraiser in Hershey, Pennsylvania benefiting Autism Speaks (Read More at an Article on Ethan Walmark at the Penn Live Website).

Social Media: You can follow Ethan Walmark on the following social media areas:
Special thanks to Ethan Walmark for being an Autism Light. Ethan's musical talent is a blessing for the autism community. We wish Ethan Walmark continued success as he develops as a musician. For other individuals with autism who display musical talent visit the Autism Light Music Page.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jack and Rebecca Sytsema

Autism Light #308 are Jack and Rebecca Sytsema.

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Jack and Rebecca Sytsema are ordained Christian ministers who live in Zeeland, Michigan. They have 3 sons and their two oldest (Nicholas and Samuel) have autism. Their youngest son Trey is developing typically. Autism Light first became acquainted with the Sytsema's ministry in December, 2011, when learning of the tremendous impact their ministry called Children of Destiny had made on Julia Boyd, Autism Light #114. Jack and Rebecca Sytsema are Autism Lights because of how their ministry encourages the faith of autism parents and gives them daily hope and encouragement.

The Children of Destiny website lists this description of how Jack and Rebecca Sytsema approach their life with autism:
We first became interested in autism when our then 2-year-old son, Nicholas, was showing signs of developmental delay coupled with intestinal difficulties in mid 2000. In January, 2001, he was diagnosed with autism. We believe in the power of prayer and believe that God’s hand is firmly on Nicholas’ life. We have implemented several other interventions for Nicholas, including the gluten- and casein-free diet, several biomedical interventions, and an intensive program of Applied Behavior Analysis.
While each intervention has helped Nicholas come to new levels of success, we firmly hold to the belief that the most powerful intervention we have brought into our son’s life has been to give him over to God and Him to order our steps concerning Nicholas. Although the path has been a difficult one, we have seen steady progress as God works new miracles day by day. God has yet to disappoint us in any area with which we have fully trusted Him (Read More at the About Us Section of the Children of Destiny Website)!

Jack Sytsema:  Jack Sytsema is currently the Executive Vice President of Finance for the International Child Development Resource Center (ICDRC) and Creation's Own (CO). The ICDRC is non-profit organization founded by Dr. J. Jeff Bradstreet in order to foster treatment, education, and research to cure autism. Jack Sytsema received his Bachelor's Degree from Calvin College and his Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary

Rebecca Sytsema: Rebecca Sytsema is the Director of Children of Destiny. She is an autism mother and has also co-authored eight Christian books. You can see a list of the books she has written at the Book List on the Children of Destiny Website.

Children of Destiny: Children of Destiny is a faith based ministry that has been in operation for the past 11 years. Their website says they are Defeating Autism in the Name of Jesus. Their mission is as follows:
Children of Destiny is a Christian ministry dedicated to bringing God's hope, life, and restoration to families and individuals struggling with autism and related disorders through the development and promotion of effective prayer, inspirational messages, and spiritual support (Read More at the Introduction of the Children of Destiny Website).
Children of Destiny lists on their Website that they provide these spiritual services and free materials:
To learn more about Children of Destiny visit their website at

Unlocking Autism: Jack and Rebecca Sytsema are on the Honorary Board of Advisors for Unlocking Autism. Unlocking Autism is an autism organization that was founded in 1999.

Social Media: You can follow Children of Destiny at the following social media areas:
Special thanks to Jack and Rebecca Sytsema for being Autism Lights. Their ministry of encouraging prayer in and for the autism community is a shining light for those that receive help from their Christian faith to cope with autism everyday. Christian autism families and churches are blessed to have these faith-based autism resources available from Children of Destiny. We wish Jack and Rebecca Sytsema all the best in their ministry and in serving as autism parents to two boys with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kenneth Bock

Autism Light #307 is Dr. Kenneth Bock.

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Dr. Kenneth Bock is a physician who lives in Bearsville, New York. He and his wife have two children. Dr. Kenneth Bock is an expert on using a variety of alternative medicine approaches to treat individuals who have autism, and he is a leading clinician, author, and conference speaker. Dr. Kenneth Bock is an Autism Light for his leadership in the alternative medical treatment of autism, a lifelong passion that has produced positive results for some individuals in the autism community.

Physician: Dr. Kenneth Bock has a doctor's office in Dutchess County, New York called Bock Integrative Medicine. He has been treating patients with autism for over 25 years.

Education: Bock Integrative Medicine's website gives this introduction to the background of Dr. Kenneth Bock (Read More at the About the Practice Section of the Bock Integrative Medicine Website).
Kenneth A. Bock, M.D., graduated Summa Cum Laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1973 and went on to receive his M.D. degree with Honor from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1979. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine, a Certified Clinical Nutrition Specialist and served as a clinical instructor in the Department of Family Medicine at Albany Medical College for fifteen years. Dr. Bock is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice, the American College of Nutrition, and the American College for Advancement in Medicine, of which he is a former President. He is also a faculty member of the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).

Here is a video on one Tracy and Charlie Fox's experience with Dr. Kenneth Bock helping their son Ethan who has autism. Other video's featuring Dr. Bock are available at the video section of the Bock Integrative Medicine Website.

Author: Dr. Kenneth Bock has authored several groundbreaking books on the biomedical treatment for autism and other disorders. Here are four of the books he has co-authored.
Healing the New Childhood Epidemics has earned Dr. Kenneth Bock international acclaim for it's importance to biomedical treatment of autism and 3 other childhood diseases.

Ralph Zuranski of Healthy Doctors nominated Dr. Kenneth Bock for the Healthy Doctors Health Heroes Hall of Fame in September, 2013. Here is a presentation that Dr. Bock gave for Healthy Doctors.

Autism Conference Speaker:  Dr. Kenneth Bock has been a speaker at Autism One Conferences. A Powerpoint is online of his 2009 presentation at the Autism One Conference called Healing the Childhood Epidemics Through Biomedical Treatments and Interventions. There is also a video of his 2010 Autism One presentation online.

More information on Dr. Kenneth Bock is available in an introduction to his background on his website Bock Integrative Medicine.
Special thanks to Dr. Kenneth Bock for the difference he has made in the lives of thousands of families with autism through his work in biomedical treatment for autism spectrum disorders. This post will also be linked to the Autism Light Medical Page.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spike the Lizard

Autism Light #306 is Spike the Lizard.

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Spike is a pet gecko who lives in Hurdsfield in Chesire County, England. He is the pet of a 10 year old boy with Asperger's named Callum Lake. Spike is an Autism Light because of how his presence has transformed Callum Lake's life.

Callum's family gave him Spike after he asked for a pet lizard. Callum and Spike have formed a special bond. In fact, Karen Beech, Callum's mother, said "As soon as he held him, he fell in love (Read More at the Autism News Article on Spike the Lizard)."

Callum said this about Spike: "Looking after Spike is really fun. I've started getting up really early in the mornings so I can sit and eat my breakfast with him before school (Read More at the News Article by the Express on Spike the Lizard)."

Karen Beech is elated with the growth that Spike is inspiring in he son's life. She said, "Spike may be small, but he has had a huge impact on Callum's life and it's heart-warming to see him so much more confident and independent with family and at home (Read More at the Article at the Macclessfield Express on Spike the Lizard)."

Here are some articles written on Spike and how he is improving the life of Callum Lake.
Special thanks to Spike for being an Autism Light to Callum Lake. Spike becomes the first Lizard to be named an Autism Light. He is yet another example of how diverse animals can have therapeutic value to some children with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Anthony Barrett

Autism Light #305 is Anthony Barrett

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Anthony Barrett is 24 years old and has autism. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. Anthony Barrett is an Autism Light because he had a major accomplishment in his life as an invidual with autism, when he started his own business. Anthony Barrett is the owner of the Anthony At Your Service delivery business, a venture that began in 2012.

Here is a video of Anthony Barrett created by his aide/assistant Mikey Hamm.

Anthony At Your Service:  Anthony's website says, "Anthony is a gentle, joyful young man with autism, who has started his own delivery business (Read More at the Anthony At Your Service Website)." Anthony has a business where he runs errands, pickups, and deliveries within the City of Edmonton, Canada. 

Here is a video of the first year of Anthony's Business. 

Julie Brown of Brown & Hone Orthodontic said, "Everyone feels good when Anthony comes to the office. We know when he takes our dental cases to our clients he's bringing them that same good feeling as well (Read More Customer Testimonials at the Anthony at Your Service Website)."

You can read more about Anthony Barrrett's accomplishments in the Global News Story called Man With Autism Reaches Business Milestone

Social Media: You can follow Anthony's business on Twitter at @AnthonyAYS.

Special thanks to Anthony Barrett for being an Autism Light and providing this wonderful example of a business run by an individual with autism. We wish Anthony success in all his future endeavors. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Curt and Ana Warner

Autism Lights #304 are Curt and Ana Warner.

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Curt and Ana Warner are from Clark County, Washington. They have four children. Their twin sons Austin and Christian have autism and are now 19 years old. Curt Warner is a former NFL Football Running Back. Curt and Ana Warner are Autism Lights for their autism advocacy as well as their dedication as autism parents.

Here is an ESPN News story on Curt and Ana Warner's family and how autism has impacted it.

Penn State Career: Curt Warner was the leading rusher on the Penn State Football Teams from 1980-1982.  His 3,398 career yards rushing was a Penn State Record that lasted until 2010.  He helped Penn State win their first National Championship in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. In 2009, Curt Warner was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

NFL Career: Curt Warner was a Running Back from 1983-1989 for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. He made the Pro Bowl 3 times. He concluded his career in 1990 with the Los Angeles Rams. You can view Curt Warner's complete NFL statistics at the Pro Football Reference Website.

High School Football Coach: Curt Warner serves as the running backs coach for the football team at Camas High School in Camas, Washington (Read More at Curt Warner's Wikipedia Page).

Curt Warner Autism Foundation: Curt Warner founded and is the President of the Curt Warner Autism Foundation.

National Autism Conference: Curt and Ana Warner delivered the keynote speech at the National Autism Conference on August 1, 2013 that was held at Penn State University (Read More in an Article on the Warner's by the Centre Daily Times). It was their first public speech on autism except for the ESPN film that was done on them.  You can view the entire speech on this YouTube video.

Here are two autism quotes from the Warner's speech at the National Autism Conference.
  • "I think the most important thing in this whole situation comes down to having faith. I will say that again and again and again: You've got to have some faith because this is a struggle that doesn't end....It's an ongoing process; it's not something you volunteer for. You're picked; you've got to deal with it. So God bless all of you (Read More in an Article by The Salt Lake Tribune)--.Curt Warner."
  • "Count your blessings. It helps a lot. You're going to have dark days, so remember to count your blessings. Write them down and read them, the funny stories. When you're sad, you'll laugh at stuff like that. It will brighten up your day (Read More in an Article by the Penn Stater Alumni Magazine)--Ana Warner."

Wikipedia Page: For more information on Curt Warner visit Curt Warner's Wikipedia page.

Special thanks to Curt and Ana Warner for being Autism Lights. Their dedication as parents and as advocates is a bright spot for all those in the autism community. To read other posts about Athletes visit the Autism Light Sports Page.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Logan Blade and Josh Turner

Autism Lights #303 are Logan Blade and Josh Turner.

Photo of Josh Turner
Josh Turner
Article Header of Logan Blade and Josh Turner Autism Light Number 303

Logan Blade is a young man with autism from Columbia, Tennessee. Josh Turner is a country music singer from Nashville. Logan Blade and Josh Turner are being named Autism Lights on the same day because of the relationship their two stories have with each other. Logan Blade is inspiring others with his musical talent that breaks through the typical limitations of his autism. Josh Turner is one of Logan Blade's favorite singers, and the country star made a tremendous difference in the life of this musician with autism, when the two met and sang together for a song at the Grand Ole Opry on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.

Although he is chiefly nonverbal outside of the realm of music, Logan Blade currently sings publically at a variety of venues with a packed schedule. Christine Seiber at The Columbia Herald did a news feature on Logan's amazing talent in March of 2013.

Here is a special report from Stacy McCloud of FoxNashville on Logan Blade's life of being diagnosed with autism to how he currently has an amazing gift for music.

Logan Blade's dream was to sing at the Grand Ole Opry with Josh Turner and Josh Turner helped make that dream come true (Read More in an Article by Taste of Country Website). The following is a video from the night on May 28, 2013, at the Grand Ole Opry, where Josh Turner and Logan Blade sang together Josh Turner's signature song called Long Black Train. 

Logan Blade Fitting In: Logan Blade's debut album was Fitting In (2012). He sings a few Josh Turner songs as well as some of his own in this album. You can purchase that album at CDBaby or ITunes.
Social Media for Logan Blade: You can follow Logan Blade at the following social media areas:
Josh Turner/Punching Bag: Josh Turner is currently on tour and his latest album is called Punching Bag (2012). For information on purchasing Josh Turner's music or hearing him on tour visit his website at

Social Media for Josh Turner: You can follow Josh Turner on the following social media areas:

Special thanks to Logan Blade and Josh Turner for being Autism Lights. Logan Blade is an example of the amazing talent in music that some people with autism have. Josh Turner is an example of a star that has made a difference for autism by being a role model and hero to someone with autism. We wish Logan and Josh success as they continue to entertain others through their music.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.
The photo of Josh Turner in this post is in the Wikipedia Commons.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Jim Mansell

Autism Light #302 is Jim Mansell. 

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Jim Mansell, CBE was a university professor and an immensely influential advocate that those with autism and other intellectual disabilities in the United Kingdom be able to live in the community instead of residing long-term in institutions. Jim Mansell was born in Beckenham, Kent in the United Kingdom on September 2, 1952, and died of cancer on March 13, 2012. Jim Mansell is an Autism Light for his 30 year mission to fight for services for those with autism and other intellectual disabilities. His influence was felt most notably as the founder of The Tizard Centre at the University of Kent, and for writing groundbreaking disability reports that were published by the UK Department of Health, known as the Mansell reports (1993) and Raising Our Sights (2010). Jim Mansell will be added today to the Autism Light Memorial Roll.

Jim Mansell graduated from Cardiff University in 1975. At the age of 18 years old, he volunteered to take a group of disabled children from the city's Ely hospital to a movie. Mansell's shock at the state of the children in this long-stay institution, led him to organize efforts to change conditions for residents of the hospital. When Jim was asked what credentials he had at 18 years of age for this gigantic undertaking in social change, he would respond that it, "was actually a question that never occured to me (Read More in the Obituary Done by the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities)."  Ely would not close until 1996, but Jim Mansell's advocacy as a young university student was just the start of his life's passion to help as many residents as possible get out of long-stay institutions and live in the community.

CBE: In recognition of his lifetime of work for the disabled, Jim Mansell was given the tremendously high honor of being named Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to people with intellectual disabilities in 2012 (Read More in an Article by The Challenging Behavior Foundation).

The Tizard Centre: In 1983, Jim Mansell founded The Tizard Centre at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. This academic group is a world class disability research and study center (Read More in an Article on Jim Mansell by Mencap). He served as a Professor and then Emeritus Professor of Learning Disability at The Tizard Centre at the University of Kent.

La Trobe University: Jim Mansell served as Professor in the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the La Trobe University in Melburne, Australia. The following is a video uploaded in 2011 of the Disability Forum at La Trobe University that included Jim Mansell on the panel.

The Mansell Reports: In 1993, Jim Mansell led a group for the UK Department of Health that wrote a groundbreaking guidebook for services for people with learning disabilities. This report became known as the Mansell reports and was updated in 2007. You can read the updated version of the Mansell reports online.

Raising Our Sights: In 2010, the UK Department of Health published Jim Mansell's report on supporting people with severe intellectual disabilities. This was called Raising Our Sights. A video presentation on the Raising Our Sights report was done by Jim Mansell and is available at this section of The Tizard Centre's Website.

Publications: In addition, to the two above reports, Jim Mansell authored the following books (Read More at The Tizard Centre Website):
  • Deinstitutionalization and community living (Chapman and Hall, 1996)
  • Severe learning disability and challenging behaviour (Chapman and Hall, 1993)
  • Developing staffed housing for people with mental handicaps (Costello, 1987)
Tributes: Several individuals and organizations wrote tributes to the lifetime work of Jim Mansell. You may read them at these links.
The autism community owes a tremendous gratitude to Jim Mansell for his advocacy work in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other parts of the world. Thousands of disabled individuals and those with autism are in the community today instead of an institution because of his advocacy and work. May the efforts he made to protect those with disabilities inspire others to consider being an Autism Light and advocate.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jim and Lauren Thierry Watkins

Autism Lights #301 are Jim and Lauren Thierry Watkins.

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Jim Watkins is a news anchor for RNN's FiOS1, which is seen in Long Island and parts of New Jersey. Lauren Thierry Watkins worked for 5 years reporting financial news for CNN before she quit to care full-time for her autistic son. Jim and Lauren have a 15 year old son with severe autism named Liam. Jim and Lauren Thierry Watkins are Autism Lights for their dedication as parents and for their inspirational efforts in raising public autism awareness and acceptance over the past decade through media and fundraising.

Jim Watkins was interviewed for a news story called "Living With Autism: A Father's Story" that was done prior to Autism Awareness Month in 2013. Jim Watkins raises some issues to the public in the feature that many autism families face. One sad reality he acknowledges in the news story is that, "When my son was first diagnosed with autism in 1999, no one could tell me what in the world caused this, and now in the year 2013 no one can tell me what in the world made him autistic. And that is hard to deal with (Living with Autism: A Father's Story, 2013)."

Part 2 of the above news story is available at this YouTube video.

Jim Watkins: Jim Watkins graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Prior to joining FiOS1 as a news anchor, Jim Watkins served as the TV News Anchor at WPIX-TV from 1998-2010. His experience as a news anchor also included time with WNBC-TV in New York, and WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tennessee. You can read more about Jim Watkins at his Jim Watkins' Wikipedia Page.

Lauren Thierry: Lauren Thierry provided the Financial News for CNN for five years. She quit this position in the public arena to care full-time for her son Liam. Jim Watkins said this about his wife: 
I have to say about my wife. And I think that it's true in so many families. She does all the work! She told me all these things she was doing today on the phone and I go, 'You're doing all these things at home and who gets to go on TV tonight and talk about how we are dealing with autism' (Hear More at this Interview of Jim Watkins on YouTube).
Autism Every Day (2006):  Jim Watkins, Lauren Thierry, and Eric Solomon produced the 2006 film called Autism Every Day and Autism Speaks sponsored it (Read More at this January 21, 2007 Article by the New York Times). Lauren Thierry served as the Director of Autism Every Day. The film chronicled the lives of 8 families living with autism. Each family had a camera crew film their home life for 24 hours to provide footage for the documentary. Ron Rosenbaum has written a review of the film for the New York Observer called TV Anchor Mom Fights Autism and Films ItYou can read more about the film at the Autism Every Day Wikipedia Page.

Autism Every Day: 7 Years Later: Jim Watkins did a series for Autism Awareness Month in 2013 called Autism Every Day: 7 Years Later. The film looks at how some of the families featured in the 2006 film are doing in 2013. There is also information on some developments and opportunities for people with autism in 2013 as part of the content. The following is the first part of the series. Other parts of the series are available on the RNN TV/Richard French's YouTube Channel.

The New York Child Learning Institute: Jim and Lauren Thierry Watkins are passionate about supporting The New York Child Learning Institute, because of how this educational organization helped their son Liam grow and develop. Jim Watkins has served as the emcee for the charity event, "A Knight at the Plaza" Annual Black Tie Gala & Auction to Triumph over Childhood Diseases. The fundraiser supports The New York Child Learning Institute and other organizations. The 9th Annual Event was held most recently on May 13, 2013 (Read More at this Article on the Knights of York Website).
Lauren Thierry Watkins said this about The New York Child Learning Institute in 2007.
"We're in this for the long haul. You can't imagine what every small breakthrough means to a parent. And almost the only way that will ever happen is with a sensitive education like NYCLI provides (Read More at this Article by the New York Social Diary)." 
Other Events: Jim Watkins has served as emcee for several other autism fundraising events, including the Autism Speaks event in New York City called A Weekend for Walking.
Special thanks for Jim and Lauren Thierry Watkins for being Autism Lights. Their light shines both through their dedication as parents to their son Liam and for their public leadership in promoting autism acceptance and fundraising on behalf of the autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.