Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tyler Gianchetta

Autism Light #425 is Tyler Gianchetta.

Tyler Gianchetta is an 18 year old who has autism from Huntington, New York. He is currently an honor's college student at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Tyler Gianchetta is an Autism Light because he pulled his unresponsive mother from a burning car in Long Island, New York on July 15, 2015 and saved her life.

Susan Gianchetta blacked out while driving in West Hills, New York on July 15, 2015. The car she was driving then hit a tree. Her son Tyler was riding in the passenger side and he broke his hand but managed to pull his mother out of the vehicle to safety just a minute before flames engulfed the car. The following is a news story about Tyler rescuing his mother.

Tyler has said this about the incident: "I say don't call me a hero, I'm not a hero yet until I know she's OK (Autistic Son Saves Mother from Burning Car on Long Island, CBS New York, July 16, 2015)."

Still Tyler's dad Michael Gianchetta is certain his wife wouldn't have survived the accident without the quick thinking of his son. Michael Gianchetta said, "He's [Tyler] a hero and he is a special kid (Autistic Son Saves Mother from Burning Car on Long Island, CBS New York, July 16, 2015)."

You can read more information on Tyler Gianchetta's rescue of his mother in these online stories.

Special thanks to Tyler Gianchetta for being an Autism Light. His quick thinking in the midst of an emergency where his own hand was broken saved his mother's life. Tyler Gianchetta is representative of the many people with autism who are everyday heroes as they live their lives in tune to how they can help others.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gavin Joseph

Autism Light #424 is Gavin Joseph.

Gavin Joseph is a young man who has Asperger's and ADHD. He graduated in 2015 from Wesclin High School in New Baden, Illinois. Gavin was a victim of bullying and physical violence in late June 2015. Gavin Joseph is an Autism Light because he chose to forgive his attackers and instead of pressing charges raise autism awareness.

In late June 2015, Gavin Joseph was tricked by some boys that he thought wanted to be his friends and instead they physically assaulted him to teach him a lesson. The following is a news story on what happened to Gavin Joseph and his decision not to press charges.

Gavin's mother Cortnie Stone explained on her Facebook what happened.
Some kids were talking about how it’s weird that he’s always by himself, attending events alone and watching people, and that it was “creepy” how he wanted to be friends with people he didn’t know. 
Another kid that overheard that conversation decided to take matters into his own hands and become judge and jury, and this is the result of that. He didn’t ask questions, didn’t get to know Gavin, never met him, and didn’t give him a chance to leave. 
He was called to meet someone, surrounded by people he didn’t know, choked, punched, and left laying on the pavement so he would ‘learn his lesson’. 
Gavin is fine. He has mild concussion, a bruised oesophagus, the tip of his nose fractured, and hematoma in his eye, but nothing permanent. 
He did not press charges, but requested their community service be disability related, that they write a paper on Asperger’s, and that they watch a 20 min video statement he taped while their families were present so they could see the damage they did and hear the event from his perspective (The Independent, July 6, 2015).
Sarah Goucha writer at the Huffington Post summed up the noble act that Gavin Joseph did in this way, "A gang of bullies beat up teenager Gavin Joseph, who has autism, for being different. Yet the only thing truly different about him was his response (The Huffington Post, July 7, 2015)."

Gavin Joseph makes history at Autism Light as the subject of the 100th post featured on the blog about someone with autism. Links to the other related posts are referenced on the "Has Autism" page at Autism Light.

Special thanks to Gavin Joseph for being an Autism Light and showing forgiveness toward those that wronged him. In doing so Gavin has not only raised awareness of bullying and autism, but he has shown the true spirit of the autism community as reflected in the desire to improve the world one person at a time. We wish Gavin Joseph all the best in his life.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jacob Velazquez

Autism Light #423 is Jacob Velazquez.

Jacob Velazquez is 7 years old and has autism. He was born on September 27, 2007 to Willie and Tina Velazquez. Jacob lives in South Florida and has been playing music on the piano since 2011, just before he turned 4. He is considered a piano prodigy with a photographic memory and has been respectfully called "Baby Beethoven", "Little Beethoven" and "Mini Mozart". Jacob Velazquez is an Autism Light for the way in which his talent in playing the piano can entertain others and give hope to others with autism as it spotlights the special gifts that some people with autism have.

Photo of Jacob Velazquez
Jacob Velazquez
Awards: When Jacob was four years old he won the double platinum trophy at a Stage Masters competition in Miami. Jacob was admitted to the prestigious National Musicians Guild by playing ten classical music pieces from memory.  

The following is a video of Jacob Velazquez appearing on an Extraordinary Kids segment of the Steve Harvey show.

In the above video Jacob's mother, Tina, said on the Steve Harvey show, "I believe all children have gifts--with and without autism--it's just up to us to help discover them."

Tina Velazquez described Jacob's development as a musician at age 4 like this.
As he got older his behavior grew even more challenging but I also became even more aware of Jacob's capabilities. One day, shortly after his fourth birthday I heard the song playing from our family piano that my husband was playing the night before...but my husband was at work. I went to look to see who it was and to my surprise it was Jacob! I couldn't believe my eyes! It took us a while but we finally found a piano teacher that would take a 4 year old. His teacher soon became aware of his gift as he was flying through books learning 2-3 songs per week. It was so amazing to watch him. My son whom could never sit still could focus so intently on learning his songs on the piano. It seemed to be an outlet for him, helping him to express his feelings and emotions (Tina Velazquez via Autism Speaks Blog).
Hobbies: Jacob is a huge fan of Taylor Swift and even created a "Taylor" character on his wii just in case she ever comes over to play with him.

Album: Jacob is currently working on what will be his first album. He presently has two singles available for download on his iTunes page. You can also watch his first music video on YouTube based on one of the singles.

The following is a news story that was done by Channel 10 in South Florida on Jacob Velazquez. It is a follow up to an earlier story on Jacob done by Channel 10 News.

Social Media: You can follow Jacob on the following social media areas.
If you want to find out more about Jacob Velazquez visit his official website at

Special thanks to Jacob Velazquez for inspiring the autism community with your accomplishments and entertaining the world with your talent. We hope that your story will encourage others with autism to play piano no matter what their skill level might be. We expect to be hearing much more about Jacob Velazquez in the years to come.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post was used with permission of Tina Velazquez.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Teddy Morris

Autism Light #422 is Teddy Morris.

Teddy Morris is a golden doodle dog who lives in Jackson County, Michigan. He is one years old and serves as an autism service dog to a boy with autism named Sam Morris. Teddy is an Autism Light for the positive difference he has made in the life of Sam Morris.

The Jackson County community helped raise funds to help purchase Teddy for Sam. The following is a news story about how Teddy has helped Sam cope better with his autism.

Teddy and Sam are always together. Two contributions that Teddy makes is he helps prevent Sam from wandering and keeps him calm.

Stephani Morris said, "When he is having a hard time, Teddy will usually be able to pick up on that and help him through that process (, Haley Nelson, July 17, 2015)."

Teddy will be added to the Autism Light Animal Page today. Teddy is a fine representative of autism service dogs that are hard at work around the world day in and day out. We wish Teddy and Sam the best in the future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kevin Healey

Autism Light #421 is Kevin Healey.

Kevin Healey is an Autism Campaigner from Stoke on trent in the United Kingdom. Kevin is 41 and was born on May 27, 1974. Kevin was diagnosed with autism in 2001. His twin brother Shaun also has autism but a more severe form. Kevin's personal experiences of having autism and being bullied have driven him to campaign against bullying. Kevin Healey is an Autism Light for the difference he is making in the lives of people with autism and how he is continually raising autism awareness through his writing, speaking, social media, leadership, and campaigning against bullying.

Anti-Bullying Campaigner: Kevin Healey raises awareness for cyberbullying and online harassment of people with autism. He is also trying to change hate crime laws in the United Kingdom and around the world in order to make it more difficult for anyone to get away with bullying people with autism. You can find out more about his Global Anti-Bullying campaign at the website

The following is a video where Kevin Healey talks about his anti-bullying campaign.

Author: Kevin Healey's autobiography is the 2008 book Twin Brothers World's Apart. He donates proceeds from the book to charity. Kevin's twin brother Shaun is more severely impacted by his autism than Kevin. You can order the book from Amazon/UK and the website for information on this book is at

Straffordshire Adults Autistic Society: Kevin Healey founded the Straffordshire Adults Autistic Society (SAAS) in 2007. They were the winner of the Queen's Award Charity in 2011. The SAAS is the largest adult autism charity in the United Kingdom. They say, "Our aim is to provide support to individuals on the autism spectrum, and to spread awareness and promote a better understanding of Autism and Asperger's (SAAS Blog)." Learn more about their work at the website or their blog at

National Autistic Society: The National Autistic Society is the largest Autism Charity in the United Kingdom. Kevin Healey has been working the National Autistic Society for over 5 years as a regional Cllr/Trustee and Ambassador for the National Autistic Society.

Other Award: Kevin Healey was awarded by his community the Stoke on Trent Citizen of the Year in 2006.

The following is a video that Kevin Healey did for World Autism Awareness Week in 2015.

Wikipedia: You can read more about Kevin Healey on his Wikipedia Page.

Social Media: Kevin Healey has been dedicated to getting his message out on social media for almost 15 years. You can follow Kevin and his autism campaigning on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Kevin Healey for being an Autism Light and using his leadership skills to shine a practical light for autism in his homeland while maintaining a global mindset in his efforts. Kevin Healey's campaigning is an inspiration to the autism community around the world. It is hoped that Kevin Healey's example will inspire many others with high functioning autism to speak up for those who might not be able to speak.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photos: The photos in this post were used with permission of Kevin Healey.