Friday, January 6, 2017

William Christopher

Autism Light #454 is William Christopher.

William Christopher was an actor who had a variety of roles in his career, but none as endearing as the role of "Father Mulcahy" in the hit 1970's era television show MASHWilliam Christopher was born on October 20, 1932, and died on December 31, 2016, from cancer. He is survived by his wife Barbara and two sons, Ned and John. His son Ned Christopher has autism. William Christopher is an Autism Light because of how his devotion to his son and his journey as an autism father has increased autism awareness. William Christopher will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

Education: William Christopher earned a Bachelor's degree in drama at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Actor: William Christopher starred as "Father Mulcahy" in the popular sitcom MASH and the spin off After MASH, from 1972-1983.  He also had recurring roles in television shows, "Gomer Pyle", "That Girl", and "Hogan's Heroes". You can read more about William Christopher's career at William Christopher's IMDb Page or the Wikipedia Page of William Christopher.

Here is a public service announcement that William Christopher appeared in for the Health Care Chaplaincy Network.

Mixed Blessings: William and Barbara Christopher published the book Mixed Blessings in 1989. The book tells their story of raising their son Ned, who has autism, and the hope and challenges they faced in making important decisions in his development.

National Autistic Society: William Christopher appeared in public service announcements for the National Autistic Society as a way of advocating for his son and others who have autism.

Obituary: You can read William Christopher's obituary at Legacy.comCBS News also published a news article on William Christopher's passing.

Special thanks to William Christopher for being a light for autism. Although the general public will remember his well performed character acting roles, the autism community thanks him for fulfilling a role as a dedicated autism father, author, and an advocate. May his memory encourage others and remind us all of the way in which autism touches so many families, including those of famous celebrities.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Kaylee Rodgers

Autism Light #453 is Kaylee Rodgers.

Kaylee Rodgers is a 10 year old girl with autism ADHD from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland. Kaylee Rodgers is an Autism Light because of her angelic singing of the Leonard Cohen classic, Hallelujah, in her school's choir concert in December 2016.

Kaylee Rodgers is a student at the Killard House School, a school with 200 students who have special speech needs, including those on the autism spectrum. Kaylee's mother Tracy Rodgers said, "She always loved singing, but it wasn't until she started at Killard House School that she really came into her own. [Mr. Scates is] like her safety blanket -- he's amazing (Deseret News, Herb Scribner, December 22, 2016)."

Below is the video that Nichola Martin shared on Facebook on December 18, 2016, of Kaylee Rodgers singing Hallelujah at the Killard House School program. It was posted because Kaylee was sick and could not sing in a subsequent performance scheduled with her church's Christmas choir.

The video of Kaylee Rodgers' singing has received almost 3 million views in a week. Kaylee reflected on her joy in singing the song Hallelujah and said, "It was really amazing how many views I got...I just loved doing it (ABC7 Chicago, December 22, 2016)."

If you wish to assist Kaylee with developing her talent, a GoFundMe page has been started for her. We look forward to hearing amazing things about Kaylee in the years to come.

Special thanks to Kaylee Rodgers for being a Autism Light and sharing with world her musical gift. She is an inspiration to others with autism and a blessing to all those who have heard her sing.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

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.