Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scott Phillips

Autism Light #394 is Scott Phillips. 

Scott Phillips

Scott Phillips is an Autism Father from Eugene, Oregon. His eight year old son Luke has autism.  He works in video production for the University of Oregon Athletic Department. Scott Phillips is an Autism Light because he is using his talents in video production to draw attention to the role of autism fathers through Fan Blade Films

Scott Phillips has a degree in Cinema Studies from the University of Oregon. He has ten years experience of shooting and editing film and currently works in video production for the University of Oregon Athletic Department. 

Fan Blade Films: Scott Phillips began looking for resources to help him as an father of a child with autism after he received his son's diagnosis. He writes, "I started looking for information on autism from a father's point-of-view. There wasn't much to be found so I decided to do something about it. I started Fan Blade Films and began work on a film that would offer comfort and hope to the thousands of fathers who find themselves in the same situation that I found myself in (Fan Blade Films)."

Through Fan Blade Films, Scott Phillips directed, produced, edited, and shot the film Do It Differently, a documentary about the unique role of autism fathers. Mike Whitty, Damian Goble, Jonathan Ayers, and Mike Guido have one thing in common, they are all fathers raising a child with autism. In Do It Differently they share their struggles and successes...fears and hopes...while projecting a quiet strength. Through the film they can inspire others to do it differently. You can watch a trailer of Do It Differently or view the entire film below. 

Scott Phillips says, "An autism diagnosis can shake the foundation of any family, but it isn't the end, it's just a different path. For all fathers who feel lost, scared, and helpless I hope the film "Do it Differently" inspires you to want to do more for your child who is different than expected. You are not alone (Fan Blade Films)." 

Scott Phillips is currently working on a follow-up film to Do It Differently. He tells Autism Light that, "Although it will be a narrative film and not a documentary, the subject matter will be similar and I hope to bring even more attention to the fathers who work hard every day raising their children and doing the right thing." There is currently a GoFundMe Page seeking to raise $6,800 for a camera to create more autism films. 

Social Media:  You can follow Scott Phillips at the following social media areas.

Special thanks to Scott Phillips for sharing his gift of video production to raise autism awareness. We wish Scott all the best in the future as an autism father and autism advocate. We look forward to future films coming from Fan Blade Films. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photos in this post were used with permission of Scott Phillips.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Taylor Myatt

Autism Light #393 is Taylor Myatt.

Taylor Myatt is a 4 year old boy who has autism and cannot speak. He lives in Birches Head, Stoke-on-Trent in Straffordshire, England. On April 9, 2015, there was a gas leak in his home in the middle of the night and he woke up his parents to alert them to the danger. Taylor Myatt is an Autism Light because by alerting is parents he was a hero that prevented the gas leak from harming his family.

Taylor's parents Rebecca Coogan and Lee Myatt were sound asleep in the middle of the night of April 9, 2015. Taylor went into their room and woke them up and he was able to convince his father to go downstairs. The gas leak was discovered and they were able to call their emergency after hours number for a gas leak.

Taylor's mother Rebecca Coogan said that Talor, "was trying to pull Lee out of bed and he wouldn't go back into his own room. Taylor can't talk, he just points when he wants something, but he was adamant he was going downstairs (As quoted by Laura James, Stokes Sentinel, April 14, 2015) ."

Rebecca Coogan added, "Taylor always has his door open at night so I guess thats why he could smell the gas and not us. I don't know how he knew something was wrong. I guess it was just his instincts. But there's no doubt in my mind that he saved our lives (As quoted by Laura James, Stokes Sentinel, April 14, 2015)."

Special thanks to Taylor Myatt for being an Autism Light and demonstrating that one doesn't have to be able to speak to be a hero. Taylor is representative of the many individuals with autism that in the right situation are the first person to sense danger and they are able to find way to get help from others. We wish Taylor Myatt all the best as he develops and grows up.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ian Hinton

Autism Light #392 is Ian Hinton.

Ian Hinton is a 37 year old homeless man from Garden Grove, California. Ian Hinton is an Autism Light because he helped the Garden Grove Police Department locate a missing teenager with autism named Charles Truong on April 14, 2015.

Charles Truong who is 17 and has autism wandered off on April 14, 2015, when shopping with his mother at the Binh Supermarket in Garden Grove, California. Officer David Chang with the Garden Grove Police Department showed his picture to Ian Hinton in hopes he might recognize the teenager out in the community.

The effort by Officer Chang to reach out to Ian Hinton who lived on the streets of the community was successful. A few hours later Ian Hinton did see Charles Truong out on the streets flapping his hands at a busy intersection. Ian asked people to help him call the police to assist getting Charles back to his family. He was ignored by the first two people he asked, but the third person Ian asked for help assisted him by calling 911. Charles Truong was then returned safely to his family without harm.

Here is an news video about Ian Hinton's role in the community finding Charles Truong safely.

"Hinton claims he's not a hero. He said he was just doing what anyone with a giving spirit would do (, April 19, 2015)."

Special thanks to Ian Hinton for being an Autism Light. Ian Hinton along with the person who helped him contact the police after he spotted Charles will be honored at a special reception in the future with the Police Chief of the Garden Grove Police Department.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dorian Poe

Autism Light #391 is Dorian Poe.


Dorian Poe
Dorian Poe is an 11 year old boy who has autism. He lives in Burlington, Ontario in Canada. Burlington is part of the Greater Toronto Area. Dorian Poe is an Autism Light for the way in which he raises autism awareness through his beloved Webkinz Polar Bear Tikko™.

According to his blog at, "Dorian loves Pokemon, Skylanders, video games (like Minecraft), and being creative (through drawings, story-telling, and building Lego)."

Dorian started sending his beloved Webkinz Polar Bear Tikko™ into the world when he was 9 years old in January of 2013. One of Dorian's favorite sayings is, "'s okay to be different." Thus Tikko™ wears a shirt that has a puzzle piece and those words from Dorian on it.

Each bear that is sent out comes with a letter from Dorian which encourages the owner of Tikko™ to raise autism awareness through the bear. The letter says,

Hello my name is Dorian. I am 11. I have autism and so does my pet polar bear Tikko™. Tikko™ is about to go travelling on an adventure; and I need you to take care of him. My polar bear wants to raise Autism Awareness. Just call him "Tikko the Autism Bear or Tikko™.  Guess what, this guy is much more different than the other polar bears you know. Things you should look out for:
  • Tikko™ gets really angry sometimes 
  • Tikko™ has anxiety  
  • Tikko™ doesn't like being tickled 
  • Be very patient with Tikko™ 
  • Tikko™ likes school 
  • Tikko™ is great at math 
  • Tikko™ cries, screams, hits, kicks, and GROWLS 
  • Tikko™ throws chairs and desks
  • Tikko™ is very, VERY loud 
  • Tikko™ wants attention, food, drinks, and someone to play with
  • Most of all, Tikko™ wants LOVE 
I LOVE TIKKO™.  I would love it if you can take pictures of Tikko™ while he is gone. Help Tikko™ promote AUTISM AWARENESS to the WORLD. 
Thank You,
Over the years Tikko™ has traveled around the world. You can view all the places that Tikko™ has been to on Tikko's Website. There are about 20 Tikko™ bears in circulation either traveling around the world or serving as a companion to one of the Ambassadors for Autism at Tikko Travels.

The following is a video of when Tikko™ went skydiving in Toronto.

The dream of Tikko Travels is to have special Ambassadors for Autism in countries all over the world who are committed to the campaign. They would loan out their bears for trips. There are already 9 people who are continuing to promote Tikko™ beyond taking him on vacation. They have received a special certificate as a Ambassador for Autism. There is currently a "Help Tikko™ Travel" Kick Starter Campaign to raise $10,000 to help toward accomplishing this dream.

Alessia Cohle's Song Make a Change: One of the special Ambassadors for Tikko Travels is Alessia Cohle. Dorian's dream inspired her and her partner Brian Donkers to write the song Make a Change (The Tikko Song). Christine Poe told Autism Light, "We feel it would make a wonderful Autism Anthem! It is inspiring! Alessia’s love for Tikko and families with autism make her a superstar in our eyes! Our dream is to see Alessia sing this song at the Toronto Blue Jay Autism Speaks “Autism Awareness” game in 2016!”

Quote from Dorian: Dorian shared these words with Autism Light that give a glimpse into the world of autism.
Life with autism is hard. Controlling emotions is difficult. We don't always know when people are joking. Sometimes we ask the same question over and over again and drive people crazy. We go on and on about something even when people tell us to stop. But we have really special gifts too; like being great at writing, singing, very creative, good at sports, very imaginative, very smart, and we all work as a team (Dorian Poe)

Social Media: You can follow Dorian Poe and the travels of Tikko™ on the following social media areas.
Dorian Poe attends a private school, because it has helped him with his education more than a public school could. From 2009-2012 he attended Woodview Learning Academy. Since 2012, Dorian has attended Missing Links Academy. You can donate online toward his family's ongoing tuition costs.

Behind many exceptional individuals with autism there is a parent, so we want to pay a huge tribute to the valuable role that Dorian's mother Christine Poe has had in helping her son fulfill his dream's for autism awareness around the world through Tikko™. It is a blessing that Dorian has such an engaging mother who cares so much to help him carry out the business of maintaining the Tikko Travels initiative.

Special thanks to Dorian Poe for being an Autism Light. The idea to raise autism awareness by having Tikko™ travel around the world on behalf of autism was a very creative initiative. Dorian desires to be a rock star someday but he is already a rock star for autism awareness. We wish Dorian Poe all the best in his autism awareness and development as a young person.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photos: The photos of Dorian Poe was used with permission of his mother Christine Poe.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Peter Capaldi

Autism Light #390 is Peter Capaldi.

Peter Capaldi (2014)

Peter Dougon Capaldi was born on April 14, 1958. Peter Capaldi is a Scottish actor and film director. In 1991 he married Elaine Collins. He lives in Crouch End in the United Kingdom with his wife and daughter. Peter Capaldi is probably best known for being the twelfth and current actor to play the lead character of Doctor Who in the iconic BBC One science-fiction series Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi is an Autism Light for the way in which he has engaged and comforted some of his very special fans who have autism.

Peter Capaldi took classes at the Glasgow School of Art. He has been an actor and film director since 1982. For a complete listing of the television shows and features he has played in visit the Peter Capaldi IMDb page.

Peter Capaldi is an Autism Light for two separate interactions he had in 2014 with two fans who had autism.

Girl with Autism: Here is a video of Peter Capaldi comforting a girl with autism who had been upset about Peter Capaldi replacing Matt Smith as the 12th star to play the role of Doctor Who. He shows the special fan a photo of himself with Matt Smith to emphasize the continuity in the change of an actor.

In the video Peter Capaldi tells the girl with autism, "Matt [Smith] was really nice to me, as Jenna was too. They were both very welcoming to me when I came into the TARDIS. Matt said to me to look after Doctor Who, and he gave me his watch that he wears, and he said that, in his own way, he was happy that it was me that was coming in. So I will do my very best to be as much fun and as friendly as he is (As Quoted in Huffington Post, March 5, 2014)."

Boy with Autism: Thomas Goodall has autism and experienced intense grief when his grandmother died. Here is the video message that Peter Capaldi sent to Thomas Goodall to comfort him when his grandmother died.

Peter Capaldi wrote this letter to Thomas Goodall to encourage him after his grandmother died.
Because you see, when Clara and I are travelling around in time and space, sometimes bad things happen to us.
And you know what, Thomas? Sometimes sad things happen to us to. So, it's nice to know that there's somebody like you out there who's on our side. And you should know that we're on your side too.
So you look after yourself, and take care, and be happy.
(Source: The Guardian, Doctor Who's Peter Capaldi Sends Video Message to Bereaved Autistic Boy, November 9, 2014). 
Ross Goodall, the father of Thomas, said that he didn't think his son was going to be able to go to the funeral because of his intense experience of grief, but that the message from Peter Capaldi gave his son the courage necessary to attend his grandmother's funeral.

Wikipedia: You can learn more about Peter Capaldi at the Peter Capaldi Wikipedia Page.

Peter Capaldi uttered a very deep truth when he said, "Real heroes are all around us and uncelebrated (Peter Capaldi IMDb page." At Autism Light we strive to honor real heroes who do something special for the autism family. Special thanks to Peter Capaldi for being an Autism Light. The kindness he showed to two young fans with autism is something they will not soon forget. We wish Peter Capaldi all the best.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo of Peter Capaldi is from the Creative Commons at Wikipedia.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Al Archie

Autism Light #389 is Al Archie.

Al Archie has worked as a vacuum salesman for the Kirby Company for 25 years. He works for a distributor in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Al Archie is an Autism Light for the joy he brought to a teenager with autism named Dylan Johnson, when he held a vacuum demonstration at his 14th birthday party in January 2015, and then gave Dylan the Kirby vacuum for a present.

Dylan Johnson has loved vacuum cleaners since he was very little. For his 14th birthday his mother Jodie decided to throw Dylan a party at their Chesterfield, Virginia home with a unique vacuum theme. Jodie made a cake with a vacuum cleaner on it and she wrote an email to the Kirby Company to see if one of their representatives would give a vacuum demonstration at the party. The Kirby Company had Al Archie come for Dylan's party.

The following is the news story on Al Archie coming to Dylan Johnson's birthday party and doing a demonstration for him and then presenting him with his very own Kirby vacuum cleaner.

Kirby vacuum cleaners are not cheap and when Al Archie gave one to Dylan Johnson it was a very generous thing to do. Al Archie explained though, "I planned I wanted to do something for him. [It was] an opportunity to give something back (, Scott Wise, January 19, 2015)."

Special thanks to Al Archie for being an Autism Light by taking some of his time and resources to give a special gift to Dylan Johnson. Al Archie is a hard working person who also has a very big heart. He is a representative of the people who are uniquely positioned through their everyday jobs to make a difference in the life of someone with autism. Autism Light also wishes to thank the Kirby Company for their role in facilitating this birthday surprise for a young man with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jason Mann

Autism Light #388 is Jason Mann.


Jason Andrew Mann was an educator in Panama City Beach, Florida. Jason Mann was born on July 27, 1971, and passed away on December 23, 2013, from pneuomonia. At the time of his death, at age 42, he was serving as a teacher for children with autism at Breakfast Point Academy in Panama City Beach. Jason leaves a legacy of service to his students with autism. He is survived by his wife Jennifer; parents, Lee Ann and Patrick; grandmother, Rita Muffett; children, Caitlyn and Joshua; brothers John and Jacob. His funeral service was held on December 28, 2013, at Southerland Funeral Home in Panamas City Beach. Jason Mann will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

The following is a news video on the passing of Jason Mann.

Jason Mann had graduated from Florida State University. At the time of his death, he was working on a Master's degree in Speech and Language, with an emphasis on autism. Jason's future plans were to have his own practice where he would work with children with autism. 

"Jason was making a career change to be a middle school science teacher," his wife Jennifer told Autism Light. "After having the opportunity to work with kindergarten children with autism, he suddenly knew he had found his calling. Upon receiving his own class of students, he was never happier at a job."

Jason's effective style of teaching children with autism included energy, passion and utilizing his unique talent to draw pictures of concepts for his students. Although his time as a teacher was cut short, he has left a lasting impression on his former students with autism.

Some of the praises given to Jason Mann posthumously were from parents of the children he taught:
  • Parent Allison Albano said, "He didn't realize the gift he had, a very humble man but he had a gift. He had a lot more to give and we needed him a lot longer."
For more information on the life of Jason Mann read these links:
Jason Mann with his wife Jennifer and children Caitlyn and Joshua
Following Jason Mann's death fundraisers were set to benefit his family. There is a Facebook Page called Love for the Mann Family that chronicles some of the events held in Jason's honor in 2014. There was specifically a Golf Ball Drop Fundraiser held in February 2014 to benefit Jason Mann's family.

Jason Mann's legacy lives on at Breakfast Point Academy, where there sits a memorial bench in front of the school in his honor. The school he taught at also designated April 24, 2015 as Jason Mann day. Students can pay $1 to wear their favorite team shirts and the proceeds will benefit autism education.

Jason Mann is representative of the countless educators who invest their lives in teaching children with autism. Our thoughts are with Jason Mann's family and the Panama City Beach autism community who continue to feel his absence. It is hoped that young people will be encouraged to go into autism education and shine a light for autism and become an exceptional teacher for exceptional people just like Jason Mann was. Truly the best tribute one can give Jason Mann is for passionate and caring young people to follow in his footsteps and start the journey to become an autism teacher, making a difference in a field where the need is so great.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo of Jason Mann was used with permission of Jennifer Mann.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Crystal Lyons

Autism Light #387 is Crystal Lyons.

Crystal Lyons and her son John

Crystal Lyons is an Autism Mother from Elgin, South Carolina. She has two children and her son John has autism. Crystal Lyons is an Autism Light for founding the charity Vests for Visionaries that provides weighted vests to children with autism by using old military uniforms.

John wearing his weighted vest.
Crystal Lyons graduated High School from Dorchester High School in North Charleston, South Carolina. She has an identical twin. Crystal attended Peace College (Raleigh, North Carolina) and graduated from Ashworth College (Norcross, Georgia) in 2008 with an undergraduate degree in business.

Crystal Lyons taught herself to sew to be able to make a weighted vest for her son John to cope better with his autism. Military uniforms were used because Crystal's husband is a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army and they had some old vests in the garage. The vests are weighted with pennies. Lyons described the positive impact of the vest on her son in this way, "He needs something to help him calm down; he needs to feel pressure. They call it a portable hug. He is absolutely calmer. He is more focused, he's able to concentrate (Today, A. Pawloski, April 9, 2015)."

After seeing how it helped her son, she started Vests for Visionaries in July 2014 and the charity was incorporated in September 2014.  The name "visionaries" describes children with autism because Crystal Lyons says, "These children see things that I would never see (Today, A. Pawloski, April 9, 2015)."

Crystal Lyons told The Huffington Post that her goal in creating Vests for Visionaries was to "help children and families be able to have access to a therapy tool they may not be able to afford and to give hope to those families in a situation where they may already be feeing helpess. I just want people to know not to give up after diagnosis and to know there is help and there are people willing to help if you just let them know (The Huffington Post, Caroline Bologna, April 10, 2015)."

Vests for Visionaries makes weighted vests from military uniforms and gives them free to families with children with autism. Their charity is able to help so many because of he generosity of others, including service members who donate their old uniforms. The following accomplishments by Vests for Visionaries in less than a year of existence are remarkable.
Since last summer (in 2014), Lyons has created 135 vests, repurposing hundreds of old military uniforms that have been donated to her charity. Requests have come in from 25 states and as far away as Australia. Lyon sews the garments for free, with shipping often covered by donations (Today, A. Pawloski, April 9, 2015).
Crystal Lyons gave this word of encouragement for autism parents to Autism Light.

Stay Strong. Be the best advocate you can be. Don't give up hope (Crystal Lyons).

Social Media: You can follow Vests for Visionaries on the following social media pages.

Contacting Vest for Visionaries: You can contact Vest for Visionaries to donate to the charity or to request a free vest. There could be as much as a six month wait for a vest because of the increased demand brought on by media exposure of Crystal Lyons' work.  Here is her contact information.

Logo for Vests for Visionaries

Vest for Visionaries
PO Box 223
Elgin, SC  29045
Phone: 803-764-2590

Special thanks to Crystal Lyons for being an Autism Light. Her efforts to brighten the life of people with autism by creating weighted vests are a blessing to many in the autism community. We wish Crystal Lyons all the best in the future in her role as an autism mother and in the charitable work at Vests for Visionaries.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photos of Crystal Lyons were used with permission of Crystal Lyons.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pennsylvania Lights

The State of Pennsylvania is the home of 14 Autism Lights written about in 13 posts. Pennsylvania Lights include 6 Autism Fathers, 3 Autism Mothers, an Autism Sister, 4 individuals with autism, and an NBA Team. Three Autism Parents from Pennsylvania are presently on the Memorial Roll.

 Pennsylvania Autism Lights

Autism Fathers:
  1. Dr. Patrick Elliott is an Autism Father and physician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His work is in biomedical treatments for autism. His twin sons both have autism.
  2. Richard Everts is an Autism Father from founded the Tommy Foundation, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in honor of his son Tommy who has autism. He was the director of the movie the United States of Autism.
  3. Topher Wurts is an Autism Father from Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. He founded Autism Village through the inspiration of his son Kirby.

Autism Mothers:
  1. Theresa Noye is an Autism Mother and musician from St. David's, Pennsylvania. Her son Regal has autism.
  2. Diane Soucy is an Autism Mother from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She is an autism advocate and founder of the Activities for Daily Living (ADL Center). Her son Matthew has autism.

Autism Sibling:
  1. Candice Hause is an Autism Sister from Cairnbrook, Pennsylvania. Her two siblings Leah and Blake both have autism. She helped spearhead a fundraising project for a school sensory room.

Individuals with Autism:
  1. Dan and Will Haggerty are brothers who have autism from Amber, Pennsylvania. They excelled as high school swimmers.
  2. David Kot has Asperger's and is the co-founder of Face Value Comics. He is from York, Pennsylvania. He is also an autism father. 
  3. Lydia Wayman is a blogger and young adult who has autism. She is from Richland, Pennsylvania.

Sports Team:
  1. The Philadelphia 76ers are an NBA franchise from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were named an Autism Light for their giving to a boy with autism named Ojay Harris.

Memorial Roll (Rest In Peace):
  1. Elgina Byrd (1974-2012) is an Autism Mother from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her son Shawn has autism. She helped raise money for autism and Autism Speaks in her community.
  2. Myron Cope (1929-2008) is an Autism Father from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who was the long-time sportscaster for Pittsburgh Steelers games. His son Danny has autism and he gave much to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh in his name.
  3. Buddy Matthews (1974-2009) is an Autism Father from Economy, Pennsylvania. His son Joel has autism.
You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "Pennsylvania" Label.

The map of Pennsylvania is attributed to TUBS [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Topher Wurts

Autism Light #386 is Christopher "Topher" Wurts.


Topher Wurts is a 48 year old Autism Father from Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. He is the father of two teenage boys, Zandy and Kirby. Kirby has autism. Topher Wurts is an Autism Light for his leadership efforts to start the groundbreaking Autism Village, which promises to be a visionary app whose first public feature will allow businesses to be rated by the autism community on their friendliness to autism.
Topher Wurts

Topher Wurts has a wide experience in technology and marketing, having served as Executive Vice President of Reuters.
Wurts has decades of experience as a technologist, sales person, marketer, strategist and board member from early to later-stage start-up companies. His role at Reuters included executive vice president and head of marketing for Reuters America from 2002-2006, CEO of the Reuters venture capital company Boardwalk from 2000-2002 and vice president of equities marketing from 1998-2000. He has worked on Autism Village for the past two years as a part-time project and focused on it full-time starting last July. Wurts said Autism Village has a few services in pilot or beta testing but the app release will be the first generally available for all autism families (The Baron, March 12, 2015 ).
There is currently a kickstarter campaign to raise awareness and funds for Autism Village taking place this April 2015. Information about their Tag 10 for Autism campaign is available at  Participants will receive a song We'll Get By that was performed by Autism Light #359 Johnny Orr.

The following is a YouTube video about the kickstarter campaign for Autism Village.

Topher Wurts said this to Autism Light about the Autism Village App and how it is just the beginning. "Autism Village is about solving the practical day to day problems for autism families and autistic adults. Our first app is like Yelp or TripAdvisor to help folks find autism friendly businesses as added, rated, and reviewed by others in the autism community. We have a rich road map of more practical solutions to come."

The Huffington Post describes how Autism Village will function in this way, "Topher Wurts is developing the 'Autism Village' app which will allow people in the autism community to add, rate and review different restaurants, museums, parks, playgrounds and other locations based on 'autism friendliness' -- the level of comfort or accommodation a place is able to give a person with autism (Kimberly Yam, Huffington Post, March 19, 2015)."

Encouragement to Parents: Topher Wurts shared this encouragement with Autism Light for fellow parents on the autism journey. "For parents, Autism is a marathon not a sprint. Each day we strive for awareness and acceptance and to help our kids become more productive and happy adults. Most of the time we're in the forest and looking at the trees, sometimes we need to step back and realize what we've accomplished."

Social Media: You can follow Topher Wurts and his autism efforts at the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Topher Wurts for being a dedicated autism father and using his experience and talents to create Autism Village for the autism community. A reflection of the personal roots of Autism Village is that Topher likes to say that he is the father of the founder of Autism Village, because his son Kirby has impacted so much of Autism Village. We look forward to the amazing possibilities that Autism Village can have for sharing experiences and improving life for those in the autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photos of Topher Wurts and and Kirby were used with permission of Topher Wurts.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Joe's Crab Shack

Autism Light #385 is Joe's Crab Shack.

Joe's Crab Shack is an American chain of seafood casual dining restaurants owned by Ignite Restaurant Group. They were founded in 1991 and have headquarters in Houston, Texas. They have approximately 135 restaurants in 35 states in the United States. Joe's Crab Shack is an Autism Light because of their demonstrated dedication to raise money for autism through Autism Speaks during autism awareness month in April. Not counting ongoing efforts in 2015, they have raised $2.5 million for autism.

Here is a brief summary of the support Joe's Crab Shack has given to Autism Speaks for three years.

2013: Joe's Crab Shack started their corporate giving to Autism Speaks in April, 2013. Their first year they raised over $1 million for Autism Speaks. Joe's Crab Shack accepted donations online and in their restaurants. They have a signature Piece of the Puzzle tie-dye T-shirt they sell.

2014: In April 2014, Joe's Crab Shack raised $1.3 million for Autism Speaks in their second annual #JoesGoesBlue Campaign. Customers were given coupons for free food as they joined in the campaign. They were also given the opportunity to purchase Joe's Crab Shack's signature Piece of the Puzzle tie-dye T-shirt to support Autism Speaks. At the time the money raised was a record for Joe's Crab Shack's history of philanthropy (Joe's Crab Shack, Media Release, May 14, 2014).  Autism Speaks has a news release on their partnership with Joe's Crab Shack. On April 2, restaurants in the Joe's Crab Shack chain also went blue for Light it Up Blue. 

2015: In April 2015, Joe's Crab Shack continues to raise money in their third annual #JoesGoesBlue Campaign. They have a goal to exceed $1 million in donations again in 2015 (Joe's Crab Shack News Release, April 1, 2015).

Liz Feld, President of Autism Speaks said about Joe's Crab Shack,
We are grateful for the outstanding commitment Joe's and its guests have shown the autism community both locally and nationally. The #JoesGoesBlue campaign brought awareness to new audiences. And Joe's fundraising efforts will further our investment in innovative research, and our advocacy efforts for individuals and families affected by autism (Market Watch, Joe's Crab Shack, May 14, 2014)

Wikipedia: You can learn more about Joe's Crab Shack at the Joe's Crab Shack Wikipedia Page.

Social Media:  Several of the local franchises in Joe's Crab Shack have their own Facebook page.

Also, you can follow Joe's Crab Shack on Twitter@Joes_Crab_Shack.  Their Twitter account visibly demonstrates their support for autism.

Special thanks to Joe's Crab Shack for their support of autism and Autism Speaks. Joe's Crab Shack is a fine representative of the many businesses that are shining their light for autism and engaging their customers in raising awareness throughout the year, and especially for autism awareness month. Joe's Crab Shack will be featured on the Autism Light Business Page.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo of a Joe's Crab Shack restaurant was taken from the Wikipedia Creative Commons.