Monday, November 21, 2016

Eric Schopler

Autism Light #452 is Eric Schopler.



Eric Schopler was an American psychologist whose research into autism treatment led to his creation of what is known as the TEACCH autism program. Eric Schopler was born on February 8, 1927, in Furth, Germany. His family was Jewish and in 1938 left Germany for the United States. Eric Schopler passed away from cancer on July 7, 2006, at his home in Mebane, North Carolina, at the age of 79. He will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

The following is a tribute to Eric Schopler that was produced in 2005, a year before his death. 



TEACCH Program: The TEACCH autism program was developed from a pilot program that Eric Schopler and Robert Reichler started at the University of North Carolina in the 1960's. TEACCH was formed as a statewide program in 1972 by the North Carolina legislator (TEACCH Autism progam, Autism Speaks website). It went on to become a model for other autism programs around the world and is still being practiced widely to this day.

Tribute to Eric Schopler: Dr. Gary Mesibov, a previous director of TEACCH said, "Dr. Schopler's work erased the burden of unjustified guilt borne by many families and led to meaningful, productive lives for people with autism. For more than 35 years, the treatment that he developed has been the most widely used approach to autism in the world (Carolina Alumni Review, July 12, 2006)."

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: Eric Schopler was editor for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders from 1974-1997. He also wrote over 200 articles and books during his lifetime.

Board Member: Eric Schopler was a member of the following boards as he lived out his passion for autism.



Wikipedia: For more information about Eric Schopler read his Wikipedia Page

In Memorium: More information can be found about Dr. Eric Schopler in the obituary that the University of North Carolina published on their website. There is also a blog created in memory of Eric Schopler.

Special thanks to Eric Schopler for his contribution to the field of autism therapy. His legacy lives on in the many practitioners who went on to embrace his technique of collaborating with parents and to this day persistently utilize the TEACCH program. May Dr. Schopler's life inspire others to enter the field of autism therapy.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Matthew and Courtney Oakes

Autism Lights #451 are Matthew and Courtney Oakes. 


Matthew (Matt) and Courtney Oakes are the parents of two children: Molly and Liam. Their 6 year old son Liam has autism. Matthew and Courtney Oakes are Autism Lights for their efforts to raise awareness of autism family life as parents, bloggers, and members of their community. Their blog is called 808 [the adventures].

Matthew Oakes: Matthew Oakes is an associate professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois. In 2015, Matthew Oakes earned his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Illinois at Chicago (Source: Matt Oakes' LinkedIn Page).

Courtney Oakes: Courtney Oakes serves as the Parents Talk Autism Manager for Easter Seals of Metropolitan Chicago and is a Medical Advocate for Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, Inc. (Source: Courtney Oakes' LinkedIn Page).

The following is a recent Twitter message from Courtney Oakes introducing an inspiring blog post.




The Fatherhood Project: The following video highlights Matt Oakes and his life as an autism father and was produced in 2014 as part of The Fatherhood Project. The Fatherhood Project was produced by Corbyn Tyson and was part of the SoulPancacke Youtube series about what it means to be a father.



Bloggers: Matthew and Courtney Oakes have a Word Press blog called 808 [the adventures]. Matthew Oakes wrote a guest blog for Autism Speaks called 5 Things Every Autism Dad Should Know.

Social Media: You can follow Matt and Courtney Oakes at the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Matthew (Matt) and Courtney Oakes for being Autism Lights both in their vocations in Rockford, Illinois and to the larger autism community, as they tell their story as autism parents in a blog and video. The autism community, and especially autism parents, are encouraged as the Oakes' family shine their light for autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Darius Brown

Autism Light #450 is Darius Brown. 



Darius Brown is an 11 year old author who has autism. He is mainstreamed in the fifth grade at Skyline Elementary School in Suitland, Maryland, which is in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. Darius Brown is an Autism Light for the example he set for other children who have autism by writing a published book, when he was just 10 years old, called Darius Hates Vegetables.

School: Darius Brown has been mainstreamed in his public elementary school since kindergarten and he is now considered on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. His mother Wendy Brown wrote the following summary about some of the services that have helped her son over the years with his autism.
Darius Brown
Throughout grade school Darius received a lot of speech therapy services due to his inability to speak. The services taught DJ sign language to sign the words he couldn't speak and other methods to communicate while in school and at home. He also received adaptive physical education services that helped with his motor skills. These services included swimming, roller skating and other activities to help develop his low muscle tone. Now he can participate in a lot of physical activities more aggressively because he can use his muscles and be big and strong. Even though loud noises and other sensory issues are still a challenge for Darius we deal with them a bit at a time and develop coping strategies for each issue (Wendy Brown, March 31, 2016, Email to Autism Light).

Darius Hates Vegetables: Darius Brown writes his books from true events he experiences as a boy growing up, and his first published book is about a boy who enjoys cookies more than vegetables.

An 8 year old named Ryan said this about Darius' book, "I enjoyed Darius Hates Vegetables! It was catchy and a good story. The artwork was beautiful. I don't like vegetables either, but I might try them now (I Am Darius Brown Testimonials)."




Darius' mother Wendy Brown wrote to Autism Light, "Darius uses writing as a way to cope with good and bad things that he's encountered while in school trying to make new friends or other challenges faced at home especially when it comes to sharing his trains with his little brother. Nonetheless, we feel other children/adults on the spectrum will enjoy his stories all the same and realize we are all the same."

Website: You can order the book Darius Hates Vegetables online through his website and also learn more about Darius from his website.

Media: To learn more about Darius Brown read the following media.


Special thanks to Darius Brown for being an Autism Light and being a published author at age 10. Darius Brown is one of the many examples of students with autism doing extraordinary achievements. Hopefully his example will be an encouragement to to other aspiring writers with autism. We wish Darius all the best and hope he will continue to learn and grow in his life.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photos: The photos in this post were used with permission of Wendy Brown.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jennifer Waltrip

Autism Light #449 is Jennifer Waltrip.



Jennifer "Jennie" Waltrip served for 17 years as a bright light in the special education field for Frederick (Maryland) County Public Schools and was a Family Trainer for the Maryland Autism Waiver Program. Jennifer Waltrip was born on July 20, 1969 and passed away from a brain aneurysm on January 20, 2016, at the age of 46. Jennifer is survived by her husband Bryan Christopher Waltrip and 9 year old twin children: Finn Larson and Isabel Bear. Her obituary is listed at Legacy.com. Jennifer Waltrip will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

Education: Jennifer Waltrip received the following education.

Teaching Career: Jennifer Waltrip's teaching career included the following.
  • Frederick County Public Schools, Teacher Specialist, Secondary Specialized Programs
  • Caroll Manor Elementary, Challenges Program
  • Ivymount School

In addition, she served as a Family Trainer for the Maryland Autism Waiver. The Maryland Autism Waiver is a program of the Maryland State Department of Education that provides intensive services both in home and school for eligible children with autism regardless of family income.

For more information on Jennifer Waltrip read these online articles.


The autism community was blessed to have a dedicated special education teacher Jennifer Waltrip in Frederick, Maryland and her absence will be felt. It is hoped that her example will inspire others to enter a career in special education teaching.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.