Sunday, July 27, 2014

Karma the Pitbull

Autism Light #353 is Karma the Pitbull.

Karma is a Pitbull Dog who is a special friend to a 6 year old girl named Lacy, who has autism. Karma is an Autism Light for the difference she makes in Lacy's life by showing affection and sensitivity to her needs. Karma is the first Pitbull dog to be named an Autism Light and she will be added to the Autism Light Animal Page today.

Here is a video of Lacy and Karma interacting.

Karma has been friends with Lacy since she was a baby.  "Karma has never had professional therapy training, but her acute understanding of Lucy's needs has been a blessing to the entire family (The Autism Site)."

Special thanks to Karma for being an Autism Light. Karma is an example that all dogs are unique, and a natural born autism therapy dog can come forth even from a breed that is not known for being kid friendly.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Note: We are unaware of the geographical location of Karma, so this post uniquely is not classified by location of the Autism Light.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ed Asner

Autism Light #93 is Ed Asner.  
A Backlight Encore!
Original Post: November 24, 2011

Ed Asner Photo

Ed Asner PhotoEdward "Ed" Asner is an actor and television legend who lives in Los Angeles, California. He was born on November 15, 1929. Ed Asner is both a father and a grandfather of individuals with autism. Ed Asner is probably best known for his role as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Ed Asner is an Autism Light because of his advocacy on behalf of autism.

Family: Ed Asner has two generations of children with autism in his family.
  1. His son Charles Asner (b. 1987) has autism.  
  2. His grandson Will through his son Matthew Asner has autism.  
Emmy: Ed Asner won an Emmy for his famous role as Lou Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore Show. A list of all the films is on the Ed Asner IMDb page. In his career as an actor he also served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981-1985. Here is a video where Ed Asner shares memories about the cast of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Autism Advocacy: Ed Asner has been an advocate for autism. He notes that autism is a pandemic and if the numbers keep growing it will be the norm to be on the Autism Spectrum and it will be abnormal to be outside of it (Thriving With Autism Blog, 10/20/2011).

Winston School Conversation Series: Ed Asner was the keynote speaker at the Winston School Conversation Series (June, 2009). He presented on the topic “Living Life on the Spectrum: Student and Parent Perspectives on Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.”

Aspiritech: Ed Asner has served on the Board of Directors of Aspiritech, a company in Chicago that employs individuals with autism for technological testing services.

Autism Speaks Award: Ed Asner has been a longtime supporter of Autism Speaks. On July 19, 2010, Autism Speaks gave a luncheon in Los Angeles in honor of Ed Asner for all of his support over the years for Autism Speaks.

Fundraising: In November, 2012, it was announced that Ed Asner had invented a way for Autism Speaks to raise funds by getting celebrities to record personal greetings for individuals. The cost is $299 and the greetings must be PG (CBS LosAngeles, 11/21/2012, Ed Asner Invents Novel Fundraising Idea Using Celebrity Voices).

Media: Here are two parts of an interview Ed Asner did for the Faces of Autism documentary that is on YouTube.

Social Media: For more information on Ed Asner visit these social media links:
Wikipedia Page: You can read more about Ed Asner on Ed Asner's Wikipedia Page.
Special thanks to Ed Asner for being an Autism Light in the unique ways his celebrity status provides him. Ed Asner is well deserving of being the first actor to represent parents and grandparents of those with autism on Autism Light.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photos used in this post is in the Public Domain. Image sources:  Ed Asner (1985)Ed Asner (2006).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ricardo Adair

Autism Light #352 is Ricardo Adair. 

Ricardo Adair is a 25 year old man from Mexico. He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at 18 years of age and according to Mexican law this meant that a parent or guardian would make all of his decisions the rest of his life. Ricardo Adair Coronel Robles is the first Autism Light from Mexico because he brought his petition to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation of Mexico and won a legal victory that will help many with autism in Mexico gain more independence in the future.

Ricardo Adair started his case in 2011 seeking to make key decisions in his life without parental consent. Mexican law required that a person with autism or Asperger's have legal documents signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Ricardo's mother Leticia Robles supported his legal efforts for equal rights as a person in Mexico. She had told the BBC Mundo in 2013, "Many children have different levels of disability. Some need more support, some need less. This should be about giving to each one what they need (BBC News, Mexican Man with Asperger's Syndrome Wins Court Battle)."

Ricardo Adair told the Supreme Court, "I want to be allowed to decide what to do, where to go, where and with whom I want to live or travel, where to work or study (BBC News, Mexican Man with Asperger's Syndrome Wins Court Battle)."

In October 16, 2013 the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation of Mexico ruled in Ricardo's favor 4 votes to 1. Although they did not immediately declare Ricardo Adair competent for making his own decisions, the court ruled that a judge of the family will decide which rights and responsibilities Ricardo Adair is able to take on himself. When you listen to it you can go to the captions option on the video and turn on the translation option. You can then set it to see captions of the news story in any language.

The ruling from the Ministers of the Supreme Court has broad applications, and means that in the future a judge will determine on a case by case basis to what extent other individuals in Mexico with autism, Asperger's, or other disabilities are able to take over their own decisions (

Special thanks to Ricardo Adair for lighting the way for those with autism in Mexico. The legal victory that Ricardo won will make it easier for others with autism who are facing the same desire and capacity for independence.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wyatt Iles

Autism Light #351 is Wyatt Iles.

Photo of Wyatt Iles

Wyatt Iles is 12 years old and from Claremont, California. He was born on August 24, 2001 and diagnosed with autism at age 2. He started playing golf at age 4 and has excelled as a junior golfer. Wyatt Iles is an Autism Light for his dedication and achievements as a student and golfer that set an example for others with autism and raise autism awareness.

Student: Wyatt Iles told Autism Light that he gets straight A's and maintains a 4.0 Grade Point Average. He especially likes mathematics and has been in advanced math classes. Although he will only be in eighth grade in the 2014-2015 school year, he will get the honor of going to Claremont High School to take Pre-Calculus for his math class ahead of his peers.

Special Olympics:  Wyatt got his debut as a golfer with the Special Olympics of Southern California. They have helped Wyatt be successful and as his skills grew he has competed in tournaments outside of the Special Olympics.

Quote: Wyatt told Autism Light that he feels this about autism:

"Autism is a label. Autistic or not, nobody can become talented at anything, without hard work and dedication. Be who you are, and strive to become who you want to be (Wyatt Iles)."

The following is a video about Wyatt's journey with autism and inspirational accomplishments. It includes an interview with Wyatt's father, Luther Iles.

Golf Achievements: Wyatt Iles was one of 18 kids in USA to be picked to be on the Tiger Woods Foundation National Junior Golf Team in 2013. Members of this team are selected based on golf ability, academic excellence, and under representation in the P.G.A. In 2013 he competed in the Callaway Junior Golf World Championship Tournament in San Diego, California. He also won a qualifying golf tournament, and will compete in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship Tournament to be held July 19-24, 2014 at the PGA Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Wyatt Iles maintains a 7.9 golf handicap index (GHIN: 9729114).

Here is a news story by ABC7 News on Wyatt Iles' inspirational accomplishments.

Wyatt's Coach: Jay Lim, who is Wyatt's golf coach said, "If they find any interest at all, hey, nurture it, because look at what can happen. This is a great story, not just for golf, but for autism as a whole (ABC7).

Twitter: You can follow Wyatt Iles on Twitter @wyatt_iles.

Advice to Parents: Wyatt Iles had this valuable advice for parents that he told Autism Light.
I would encourage any parent of a child newly diagnosed with autism, to understand as much as they can about this disability. It does mean their child will likely face many challenges; however, with work, any challenge can be overcome. Many, including myself, diagnosed with autism have difficulty effectively communicating. It would be wise not to misinterpret this as a sign of low intelligence. I would encourage parents to actively seek out early autism intervention therapies, but equally discover and encourage your children to pursue the things they like. Most with autism have a limited field of interest, but many people do not realize the absolute passion autistic individuals have for things they find interesting. On that note, I would also suggest trying to avoid video games if possible, because I know from personal experience, they can easily become an addiction that can distract from your real goals in life. I have found my interests to be both golf and mathematics. It is likely they will both play defining roles in developing my future (Wyatt Iles, Email to Autism Light on 7/5/2014).
Future Plans: Wyatt Iles has a dream to be able to become a scratch golfer, and play golf professionally like the late Moe Norman (1929-2004), who is thought to be the only person with autism to date to play golf professionally.

Special thanks to Wyatt Iles for being an example to other students with autism. His dedication and success in golf is lighting the way for others with autism to consider golf as a sport. We wish Wyatt all the best in his endeavors. Something tells us the autism community and the world will be hearing more from him in the future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photos in this post were used with permission of Wyatt Iles.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Daryl Hannah

Autism Light #350 is Daryl Hannah.

Daryl Hannah is a 53 year old actress and producer who has had roles in over 80 films since 1978, including playing Madison (the mermaid) in the 1984 movie Splash. Daryl Hannah revealed in September, 2013, that she was diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's Syndrome as a child. She was born on December 3, 1960. In recent years she has been an environmental activist and has homes in Colorado and California. Daryl Hannah is an Autism Light for raising autism awareness as a celebrity figure by publicly sharing about her experiences with autism and how it impacted her life.

The following is an ABC News story from 2013, related to when Daryl Hannah revealed for the first time that she has autism.

When she was diagnosed with autism as a child, doctors recommended medication or that she be put in an institution.  Daryl Hannah's mother, Susan Metzger, refused to accept that fate for her daughter. Her mother pulled her out of school for a year and worked with her at home (The Autism Site, Daryl Hannah Opens Up About Her Autism).

Actress: Having autism has made Daryl Hannah shy away over the years from promoting her career through interviews and publicity performances. She feels more comfortable out of the limelight. Daryl Hannah told People Magazine in September, 2013, "I've never been comfortable being the center of attention. It freaked me out (see video above)." Nevertheless, the talented actress has been in entertainment for parts of five decades and has had roles in over 80 films since 1978. Some of her more well-known films include Blade Runner, Splash, Roxanne, Wall Street, Steel Magnolias, and Kill Bill. You can see a complete list of films she has acted in at Daryl Hannah's IMDB page.

The following is an interview Dan Rather did with Daryl Hannah about her autism.

Environmental Activist: Daryl Hannah is passionate about the environment. She has been an activist in recent years for environmental issues in America. Her simple homes in Colorado and California are off the grid.  Daryl Hannah "leads an eco-friendly lifestyle, pumps well water and relies on solar power at home (Huffington Post, Sept. 27, 2013)."

Wikipedia: You can learn more about Daryl Hannah at her Wikipedia page.

Social Media: You can follow Daryl Hannah at the following social media pages.

Special thanks to Daryl Hannah for being an Autism Light. As an exceptional actress, Daryl Hannah's life story is a testimony that some people with autism can be very successful at acting. We wish Daryl Hannah the best in the future and look forward to her future projects in the entertainment industry. The autism community appreciates hearing her experiences with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.