Saturday, November 14, 2015

P.J. Gialopsos

Autism Light #430 is P.J. Gialopsos.

P.J. Gialopsos has owned the Little Italy Restaurante in Anchorage, Alaska for 30 years. One of her delivery drivers has autism and a customer complained mercilessly about them making a mistake with their order and then made a judgment remark that the employee was not intelligent or that they were using drugs on the job. P.J. Gialopsos is an Autism Light because on November 11, 2015, after considering the situation for a while, she announced that her restaurant would no longer provide service to the customer who had such a bitter attitude toward her employee with autism.

P.J. Gialopsos' daughter received the loud complaint on the phone from the customer, and even after explaining that the employee had autism, the customer was unrelenting in condemnation of the employee (Restaurant Fires Patron Who Berated Autistic Delivery Driver, Seattlepi, November 13, 2015).

The Mighty shared this about the accomplishments of the delivery driver with autism who is in this story.
The driver, who has autism and a speech impediment, is a university student who's worked for the restaurant for two years. After the mixup, he immediately retrieved the right order from his car and returned to the restaurant (Restaurant 'Fires' Customer who Berated Employee with Autism, The Mighty, November 11, 2015). 

The following is the post that P.J. Gialopsos made on her business's Facebook page about her decision. Over 25,000 people have liked this post on Facebook.

This has been pondered for days now: should I write this post and HOW should I write this post? Over the weekend we...
Posted by Little Italy Restaurante on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This special appreciation of P.J. Gialopsos was given out by @TimVashon on Twitter.

Special thanks to P.J. Gialopsos for being an Autism Light and spreading autism awareness by the stand she took in her business. We wish P.J. Gialopsos tremendous success in her business and hope that she will continue to employ individuals with autism even after her current employee graduates from college and moves on. P.J. Gialopsos is representative of many caring business owners around the world who have the courage to take a stand in defense of their employees who have autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Justin Bohley

Autism Light #429 is Justin Bohley.

Justin Bohley is from Troy, New York. He works as a security guard at night while he studies psychology at a nearby college. Justin Bohley is an Autism Light for his efforts to help bring a 23 year old man with autism named Michael Lindsley to safety in September 2015.

Here is a timeline of the process involved in getting Michael Lindsley safely back home with his family.

Friday, September 4, 2015: Michael Lindsley's family reports him missing to police.

Saturday, September 5, 2015: Justin Bohley notices a man who had been hanging around the Albany Hilton who seemed to need help. He calls the Albany police who give Michael a name of a shelter to walk to, but that shelter the police sent Michael Lindsley to was closed. Justin encountered him again that same night on the streets. At that point Justin took it upon himself to call around and found a bed for Michael at the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless of Sheridan Avenue in Albany, New York and then gave him a ride there.

Sunday, September 6, 2015: Justin Bohley discovers Michael Lindsley's photo in a Missing Person Alert on the News Channel 13 Facebook Page and he reported to the Troy police the location of the shelter that he had taken him to. Michael Lindsley is returned safely to his family.

When Justin Bohley was asked why he spent so much effort to go out of his way to help Michael Lindsley he said, "It's the right thing to do. See somebody in need, you should probably help them. I would hope somebody would do it for me, or my kids (Quoted in, September 6, 2015, Kumi Tucker)"

Here is a video of a news story on Justin Bohley's important role in helping Michael Lindsley.

Special thanks to Justin Bohley for helping a young adult with autism who was missing and needed someone to care enough to follow through for him. Justin Bohley is representative of the many security guards around the world that are sometimes in great positions to help someone with autism. Justin and Michael's story underscores the tremendous need for people in society to be mindful of others they meet who may be in need of special help.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kelvin Moon Loh

Autism Light #428 is Kelvin Moon Loh.

Kelvin Moon Loh is a Broadway actor from Manhattan, New York.  Kelvin Moon Loh's Broadway experience includes understudying the role of Lun Tha in the 2015 Broadway production of The King and I, and previous roles of Half-Man Half-Woman in Side Show, The DJ in Here Lies Love, and the understudy of Wil in American Idiot. Kelvin Moon Loh is an Autism Light for his call for compassion to autism families who have the courage to expose their special needs children to the theater.

In the afternoon matinee on September 23, 2015, Kelvin Moon Loh was performing in The King and I at the Lincoln Theater when a boy with autism made noises during the production. After the production Kelvin went on his social media and advocated for more empathy for autism families and the situations they face by defending a mother's right to bring her son with autism to Broadway.

The following is a news story on this incident from the New York Daily News.

Kelvin Moon Loh said, "Parents of autistic children sit there with such fear and terror that this episode could occur. I was watching a mother's nightmare happen, and I just wanted to have her know that what she's doing is right in trying to expose her child to the theater, and there are advocates supporting her (Kelvin Moon Loh as Quoted in, September 25, 2015)."

Facebook Post: The following is the post on Facebook that Kelvin shared as soon as he was able to after the show.

I am angry and sad. Just got off stage from today's matinee and yes, something happened. Someone brought their...
Posted by Kelvin Moon Loh on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Twitter: Kelvin Moon Loh had this tweet on Twitter about his encouragement for autism parents.

Social Media: You can follow Kelvin Moon Loh on the following social media areas.
Website: You can also follow the work and life of Kelvin on his website at

Special thanks to Kelvin Moon Loh for having compassion on autism families. The influence Kelvin has as a Broadway actor when combined with the power of social media has made an impact on raising autism awareness.  It is hoped that Kelvin's example will encourage more actors and stars to take a stand for autism acceptance in the settings in which they perform.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Harold Doherty

Autism Light #427 is Harold L. Doherty.

Harold L. Doherty is an attorney and autism father from Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada. He is an autism advocate who is also a blogger and prolific user of social media. His son Conor has autism. Harold Doherty is an Autism Light for the dedication he has an autism father and for using his expertise as a Canadian attorney to help fight for autism services in Canada, especially that medicare will cover ABA therapy to help those who are most severely impacted by autism.

Harold Doherty with his son Conor
Autism Father: Harold Doherty has two sons and his 19 year old son Conor is severely impacted by autism. Harold began his autism advocacy in 1999 when Conor was 3 years old. Harold Doherty says, "My interest in autism, and my engagement in autism advocacy, began with my son Conor's Autism Disorder diagnosis and the need to do something (Organized Wisdom-Autism Reality in NB)."

Harold Doherty wrote the following Autism Pledge to his son Conor. It reveals the scope of his dedication and is found on his blog.
Today I Pledge to continue; I Pledge to continue to fight for the availability of effective autism treatments; I Pledge to continue to fight for real education for autistic children; I Pledge to continue to fight for decent residential care for autistic adults; I Pledge to continue to fight for a cure for autism; I pledge to continue finding joy in my son but not in the autism disorder that restricts his life; Today, and everyday, I Pledge to continue to hope for a better life for Conor and others with autism through accommodation, care, respect, treatment, and some day a cure; Today, and everyday, I Pledge to continue to fight for the best possible life for Conor, my son with autistic disorder (Facing Autism in New Brunswick Blog).

Attorney: Harold Doherty's primary area of practice as a lawyer in Canada has been in the field of labour and employment law. He has also had extensive involvement working with some First Nation’s (Indian Bands) in the province of New Brunswick where he lives and practices.

Medicare for Autism Now!: Harold Doherty is a member of the Board of Directors of Medicare for Autism Now!. He advocates for ABA treatment for autism disorder coverage under medicare legislation in Canada. Harold is advocating for inclusion of evidence based autism treatment and ABA, under the Canada Health Act. He will be an advocate for autism coverage under medicare in the current federal election in Canada.

The following is a 2012 interview featuring Harold Doherty in a series called Medicare's Orphans.

Facing Autism in New Brunswick Blog: Harold Doherty started his blog Facing Autism in New Brunswick in 2006 to spread his autism advocacy. Since it's beginning his blog has had almost 1.3 million page views. His blog includes both news and opinions related to his autism advocacy in Canada as well as personal updates on Conor and his journey as an autism father. 

If you wish to read Harold Doherty's blog, the following are two selected posts on his blog that Harold Doherty recommends people read.

You may also find some of Harold Doherty's blog posts in syndication and tagged on the Autism Speaks Blog.

ABA Advocate: Harold believes in the proven effectiveness of ABA therapy to make a difference for autism. His efforts as an autism advocate have it's start when he "began to realize the seriousness of his [son Connor's] autism disorder, that ABA treatment could be helpful and that ABA based early intervention for autism disorder was not generally available where I live (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015)."

Care and Treatment for Adults with Autism: Harold Doherty has been an autism advocate as his son has grown from a toddler to an adult. His current priority is to advocate for better services for adults with autism. He writes the following about the urgency of this part of his efforts.
My most important effort right now is working on adult autism care and treatment and for that reason met with the provincial Minister of Social Development for the province of New Brunswick. Establishment of a decent, modern adult autism care and treatment is the biggest challenge I have faced and both me and my son are getting older. Time is growing short (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015).

Questioning Neurodiversity Message: Autism is a spectrum that represents people who have extraordinary abilities as well as exceptional disabilities. The great chasm of differences in the intellectual and developmental capacity of individuals with autism can lead to profound differences in autism messaging from their advocates. Harold Doherty has personal experiences with the serious difficulties facing individuals with low functioning autism both in his family and in his community work. He has raised an alarm about the unintended consequences of the neurodiversity message having the potential to demotivate government from providing critical autism treatment services. He writes the following about neurodiversity.
I believe that neurodiversity is a major obstacle to improving lives of those with autism disorders including my son. The mainstream media has a tendency to grab the feel good stories about those persons with high functioning autism or Aspergers who have very impressive accomplishments. The severe end of the spectrum tends to be ignored by the media and generally lost to public consciousness until a serious tragedy results as in the Avonte Oquendo case and other cases of wandering leading to death (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015).
Photographer: Harold Doherty's principle hobby is outdoor photography that he combines with his love of walking. He writes, "I am fortunate to live in a city called the green city with a very natural environment and wildlife in the middle of, and throughout, the city. I have always loved being outdoors and in nature and I combine the two for exercise and relaxation (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015)." The following is a photo he took on his walk that he posted on Twitter.

Social Media: You can follow Harold Doherty on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Harold Doherty for being an Autism Light. His dedication and tenacity as an autism advocate is a strength of source for those severely impacted by autism who may not necessarily be able to speak for themselves. We wish Harold Doherty all the best in his role as an autism father and community advocate in New Brunswick, Canada.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photos: The photos in the post were used with permission of Harold L. Doherty and are in the "Buddies Forever" section of his blog's main page.