Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Doron Somer

Autism Light #377 is Doron Somer.

Doron Somer is an autism father who was born in Jerusalem and lives in Kadima, Israel. Doron is the father of two sons, Jonathan and Itamar. His 17 year old son Itamar has autism.  Out of his own personal experience as an autism father and armed with his passion and talent for technology, Doron formed the business AngelSense in 2013. AngelSense helps caretakers and parents track the location of their loved ones with special needs. Doron Somer is an Autism Light for his dedication as an autism father and for helping keep people from around the world with autism safer through his vision and leadership at AngelSense.

Doron Somer said this about being an autism parent in an email to Autism Light, "From my experience, raising a child with special needs is challenging - sometimes very challenging! But it is also a blessing. They give us the opportunity to grow as people, and have a more balanced perception of the world around us."

Doron Somer founded AngelSense in 2013, together with Nery his friend, in order to share with others the wearable technology that met a real need in his own life to keep his son with autism safe. AngelSense is a GPS tracker that can be secured to a person's clothing and it also offers a special "Listen In" feature for parents to hear sounds in the special needs environment when they are apart from family. You can read Doron's Story at the AngelSense blog and learn how the first prototype of AngelSense was used by Doron Somer to protect his child and how it became the foundation of AngelSense

One of the features that makes AngelSense stand out as a company is their customer service. The customer care workers at AngelSense have children with special needs and they use the product themselves.  They are more than happy to work through safety challenges that AngelSense can help minimize. There is a special email button in users accounts that makes communication with the company very efficient. It should be noted that AngelSense is not only for autism families, but can be of value for keeping people with diverse special needs safe. It could even have an application for tracking adults with special needs, such as people suffering from Altzheimer's.

The sweetest thing happened the other day when my son Jonathan was wearing his AngelSense device. He was naming his articles of clothing and pointed to his tracking device and called it "Angel". I might add that in the same breath he also tried to get the device off of his clothes in my presence and was unable to accomplish that, which is by design.

Maya Ariel's Story: The following story is representative of many others who each day in diverse locations around the globe are having their lives blessed by AngelSense. Doron Somer tells Maya Ariel's story in his own words:

Maya has an 11-year-old child with severe autism. His name is Rotem. Rotem used to ride the same school bus as my son Itamar. This is how I knew Maya. Maya writes children books – she is a brilliant person. She is also a single-mom, with a physical disability that makes it hard for her to take Rotem on walks.

When I started developing AngelSense, I needed an early adopter that could start using the product when it was in very early stages of development. I shared with Maya the vision when it pretty much a dream and she immediately agreed to start using the product during the development phase and help it become a reality. Rotem has severe sensory issues and thus he was a classic "client" for testing the unique wearing accessory we developed.

Because of Maya's physical disability, she needed a way to share his experiences as he went about his day. So Maya came up with the idea of pulling pictures from Google street view into the schedule in order to share Rotem’s day with him.

He initially just watched quietly and then he started saying the names of the locations. They had a really amazing experience of being together and sharing his day. We asked Maya to be the first mom on our customer care team. She immediately agreed! Maya today leads our technical support and doing an unbelievable job. She is an inspiration for the rest of the moms that followed.

She works extremely hard, but has told me that she feels AngelSense is not just a job opportunity for her but that her life has become filled with meaning by helping others.Maya is my true hero of AngelSense.
The following is a video of testimonials of other parents who are using AngelSense. Other testimonial and product instruction videos are available on the AngelSense YouTube Channel.

Service to Autism Community: Doron Somer views the value of AngelSense to the autism and special needs community in this way.
As parents to children with special needs, we constantly worry about them. The statistics of abuse, mistreatment, and bullying are horrible. There are also just as many cases of improper treatment. Not to mention the fear of wandering. I feel that our lives are often times very challenging and hectic; hopefully AngelSense can ease a few of the worries, help in optimizing and planning our time, and provide some peace of mind. When our children are not treated properly, everyone in the family pays a huge price. Meltdowns, self-injury, overall deterioration, etc. Knowing what is happening with our children and how they are being treated is crucial to improving their well-being and safety (Doron Somer).
Vision for AngelSense: Doron Somer has this vision for the future of AngelSense.
I would like to create a worldwide movement that is about keeping our children safe and well cared for. We also want to increase the awareness of the need to better protect our children and monitor the way they are being treated. I would like to see hundreds of thousands of parents joining us to this journey. When we are strong enough, we will be able to create real changes, including legislation where needed. 
I would also like to make sure that every parent may be able to benefit from AngelSense.
We understand not every family can afford AngelSense so we are always looking into ways to make it accessible to more people. We’re working on expanding assistance from charities, for example. We would also like for insurance companies to cover the cost for AngelSense. We would like to create as many avenues as we can so all of our special children can be protected by AngelSense (Doron Somer). 
Autism Fathers: Doron Somer writes this word of encouragement to other autism fathers.
You are not alone! We will do all that we can to create a better and safer world for our special children. It is a life mission for us and we encourage parents to join us on this journey. We need to stick together. There are many challenges along the way. The end goal is that our children are protected and we know what is happening with them while not under our care. I have left my hectic life as a hi-tech executive in order to create a change. I encourage fathers to step up and help us change the world.  It is possible! Totally possible!!! (Doron Somer).

Social Media:  You can follow AngelSense and Doron Somer's work at the following social media areas.

Hobbies: Doron Somer keeps very busy as an autism father and his ongoing mission to test AngelSense in real life and improve it's features consumes most of his life, because he rarely can set aside his responsibilities to his family and friends around the world who use AngelSense. Doron does do some hobbies such as jogging and biking. His favorite recreation is watching Israeli football (soccer) games in the champion's league.

Special thanks to Doron Somer for being Autism Light. We look forward to hearing exciting things in the future as he continues to grow and develop his technological product known as AngelSense.  It is a blessing to the autism community that Doron is concentrating his energies on keeping people with special needs safe through wearable technologies. His work is certainly enhanced by being an autism father and having personal experiences with the need to protect his 17 year old son.

If you enjoyed this post check out other posts at the Autism Light blog with the label "Safety".

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photos: The photos in this post were used with permission of Doron Somer. 

Special Note: Autism Light is a non commercial blog.  This blog post was voluntarily written on the founder of an autism related business without any consideration for receiving any goods or services from them. While our family is currently using AngelSense at the time this post was written, we are paying the same $39.99 per month fee for the service as anyone else.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Nicholas Bennett

Autism Light #376 is Nicholas Bennett.

Nicholas "Nick" Bennett is a senior at North Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia who has autism. Nick has served as the manager of his high school basketball team for four years from 2011-2015.  Nicholas Bennett is an Autism Light for his dedication as a student manager in basketball and for accomplishing an amazing goal with making basketball shots from half court. Because of his accomplishment in basketball shots, Nick Bennett will be added today to the Autism Light Sports Page.

As manager of the basketball team since 2011, Nick Bennett has attended hundreds of practices. He started shooting shots from half court to entertain himself at practice. He set a goal to make 1,000 half court shots. His team and coaches helped him keep track of how many he made over the years. In January 2015, Nick Bennett made his 999 shot. 

Basketball Game on January 24, 2015: During halftime of his high school basketball game on January 24, 2015, Nick Bennett made his 1,000 half court shot on the third attempt. Nick also was put in the starting lineup for the game, and made his first shot before being taken out of the game. Nick will go down in the history books at North Hall High School as the only basketball player to have a perfect career shooting percentage. 

Here is a YouTube video of the magical moment on January 24, 2015, when Nick made his 1,000 half-court basket.

Nick Bennett told the Gainesville Times after the game, "This was such an exciting experience. It felt like I was in heaven (, January 30, 2015)."

Here is a news story on Nick Bennett's accomplishment. 

Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Future Plans: Bill Murphy reported that, "In addition to his love of music, primarily the guitar, Nicholas has a strong desire to share his Christian faith with everyone he meets. Following graduation, [his father] Tim said his son plans to attend the Gainesville Baptist College & Seminary, an accredited ministry with the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Clermont (Bill Murphy, Gainesville Times, January 25, 2015).

Special thanks to Nicholas Bennett for being an Autism Light. Nick's success on and off the basketball court are an example to others of the amazing things that students with autism can accomplish. We wish Nick Bennett the best of success in reaching his goals in the future. May he continue to be an inspiration of an autism life well lived.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chris Miller

Autism Light #375 is Chris Miller.

Chris Miller is in Grade 10 at Cardinal Newman School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and he has autism.  Chris Miller is an Autism Light because his quick thinking in November, 2014, helped save his neighbor who was crushed by a car.

In 2014 Chris Miller had a stroke that was caused by nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease. He had been in coma and a neurologist had said he might never walk again or use his arms or legs. But seven months later he was not only recovered from his stroke but he had the strength and skills to be a life-saving hero to his neighbor (CBC News, Adam Carter, January 15, 2015).

In November, 2014, Chris heard a cry for help outside his home and ran to investigate. His neighbor had been doing mechanical work on a car and the heavy vehicle had fallen on top of him. Chris Miller used his quick thinking and ran and grabbed his car jack and used it to lift the car up so his neighbor could get free.

Dean DiFrancesco, the principal of Cardinal Newman School in Hamilton, Canada, said, "Christopher's heroic life-saving actions demonstrate his sense of compassion and his willingness to always do whatever he can do to help those around him - whether it be in the hallways or classrooms at school or in the local community (As Quoted by CBC News, Adam Carter, January 15, 2015)."

To read more about Chris Miller's heroic act read the original news story that featured this story in the CBC News - Hamilton, Adam Carter, January 15, 2015.

Special thanks to Chris Miller for showing the world that someone with autism can truly make a difference and save the life of their fellow human being. His heroic act is an inspiration to the autism community. Chris Miller is representative of the many unsung heroes who have autism and are making a difference in service and compassion within their communities by using their talents and initiative.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Areva Martin

Autism Light #374 is Areva Martin. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this special day we honor for the 4th year a person who is an Autism Light in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Previous honorees on Martin Luther King, Jr. day include: Elijah Winfrey (Autism Uncle), Joshua Bennett (Autism Brother), and King Richard (Individual with Autism). If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were still with us today, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been an autism advocate and that he would have been a close ally with the following dynamic and successful autism mother.

Areva Martin is an outstanding children's and family rights attorney, author, speaker and media personality and an autism mother from Los Angeles, California. Areva Martin's son Marty has autism. Areva Martin is an Autism Light because of the tremendous difference her advocacy is making to shine a light on autism, especially it's impact on minority communities.

Areva Martin said about autism, "It impacts more children than pediatric AIDS, diabetes, childhood cancer; it is the leading childhood disorder. So given the enormous number of children that are going to be impacted, it really requires all of us to become advocates (As Quoted in the St. Louis American, Sandra Jordan, April 23, 2010).

Areva Martin grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. The following biographical video on her amazing life was done by Living St. Louis.

Attorney: Areva D. Martin is a successful attorney in the Los Angeles area specializing in children's and family rights. The law firm she operates with her husband Ernest Martin, Jr., called Martin & Martin LLP, is one of the top law firms in the Los Angeles area.

Education: Areva Martin is a graduate with honors of the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School.

Special Needs Network, Inc.: Areva Martin is the President and co-founder of the Special Needs Network, Inc. She started this nonprofit organization after her son Marty was diagnosed with autism. The Special Needs Network has the following mission.
Our mission is to raise public awareness of developmental disabilities and to impact public policy while providing education and resources to families, children and adults. SNN serves as a link between under-served communities and mainstream developmental disability organizations and governmental institutions which often fail to address issues specific to these communities. SNN firmly believes that dignity, hope, and opportunity are the birthright of all children (Special Needs Network Website). 
Areva Martin's biography at IMDb says that the Special Needs Network "has raised millions of dollars and provided for over 15,000 families in low income communities across California (Areva Martin-Biography IMDb)."

The following is an interview with Areva Martin on her book The Everday Advocate.

Author: Areva Martin is the author of the following books.
Areva Martin also writes advocacy articles for media outlets including one she wrote in November, 10, 2014, for Huffington Post called Children of Color and Autism: Too Little too Late

Media Personality: Areva Martin is a frequent legal analyst on television programs such as Anderson Cooper 360, Dr. Phil, The Doctors, The CBS Early Show, and Fox News. There are clips of recent appearances she has made on television on the video section of the Areva Martin Website. Other autism features involving Areva Martin include:

Social Media: You can follow Areva Martin on the following social media areas. She is especially active on Twitter.
Special thanks to Areva Martin for her advocacy for autism as an autism mother, attorney, author, and media personality. The ripple effects of her passion and work on behalf of autism can be felt around the United States and beyond. Areva Martin's work is an inspiration to the autism community. May her example light the way for others to serve those with autism, especially to help with the needs related to autism in the African American community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

The photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. in this post is in the Creative Commons of Wikipedia and is from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

John Dalen

Autism Light #373 is John Dalen.

Photo of John Dalen
John Dalen
John Dalen is a 26 year old from Phoenix, Arizona who has autism. Armed with a deep faith in God, a supportive mother, and a determination to be an entrepreneur, John started a business in 2014 from his home that sells "Essential Energy Bars".  John is comfortable in the role his faith and work provides for him in his business. John Dalen is an Autism Light because of how his faith and business set an example to others with autism that it is possible to make a difference through one's spiritual life and work efforts.

John is nonverbal and uses facilitated speech communication. In order to start his business John took the online course and test to obtain his food handlers card and his home has been licensed by the State of Arizona for food service production. Jane Dalen said about her son, "I know he's intelligent. Just because he can't speak and he might pinch and grab because he was frustrated, I just knew someday he would break through (As quoted in CBS5 Arizona, November 23, 2014)." John Dalen's current business enterprise reflects how far he has come in living and thriving with autism.

The following is a video news story on John Dalen and his business ventures with "Essential Energy Bars".


Education: John Dalen graduated from Greenway High School in Phoenix in 2011. In order to help him with his business, John Dalen took a marketing courses at Paradise Valley Community College in the summer of 2014. This semester he is taking a class on "How to Own and Operate a Small Business". The Rising Entrepreneur Program at Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center also provided help for John to get his business started.

Christian Faith: John Dalen is a Christian and his faith has given him much hope as he has grown up with autism into the adult he is today.  John considers his business as a way for him to be a "Baker for God", and it gives him the opportunity to pray over diverse people who will have the blessing to enjoy his energy bars. Jane Dalen reflected on the roots of her son's spiritual life from it's beginnings to how it is lived out today in the following letter to Autism Light. 
John became a Christian and accepted Jesus as His Savior when he was 8 yrs old. I did not know it till we were able to learn facilitated communication when he was about 13. He was in a Bible class at a local Bible church where the message was presented and he wrote and told me he accepted Jesus then. He loves to attend church and worship time is his favorite. Even though he cannot sing, he will move in rhythm, try to sing, jump at times during his favorite songs and has that relentless joy that only comes from having faith. 
He knows the power of prayer and loves to pray for people. People at church will say how much joy they get from hearing and seeing John worship. And he sits still during the sermon and takes it all in. 
We read from the Bible daily, he prays for people and he does community outreaches to visit people in an assisted living facility, raises money for AZ Hope and a Future by doing their walk, he monthly gives to one of our pastors involved in Reach Global Africa, 10% of his business goes to a prophetic ministry. These are just some of the ways he expresses his faith and hope (Jane Dalen).
Joni Eareckson Tada: Joni Eareckson Tada, a paraplegic who has had a Christian ministry to the disabled community since 1979 called Joni and Friends, is a friend of John Dalen.  John sent Joni a gift of his bars to try along with a note saying, "Joni, I pray before making each batch of bars, that those who enjoy them will be nourished by God in a special way (Joni and Friends Blog, November 3, 2014)."

About the Energy Bars: John Dalen's business product is called "Essential Energy Bars". "Their energy bars are gluten free, low in unhealthy fats and sugars and tied up nicely in an eco-friendly recycled packaging (Adam Longo, CBS5 Arizona, November 23, 2014)."

Availability: John Dalen's "Essential Energy Bars" are currently available at Beneficial Beans Cafe in Scottsdale Civic Center Library and the Union 32 in Phoenix. Because of Arizona licensing regulations for the type of food business John has, his bars can only be sold to people in the State of Arizona. If you are an Arizona resident with an interest in ordering some of these energy bars or you wish to dialogue about John's autism life and business, email John and Jane Dalen at for more information.

Special thanks to John Dalen for shining a light for autism through his example as a man of faith and a business entrepreneur. John's story of success shows the potential that exists within people with autism to make a difference in their work and faith and it is also a tribute to the important role that an autism mother has in supporting her sons dreams. John makes a point of praying over his product as part of his business practice as a Christian. Likewise John is in our prayers and we wish John all the best in his future endeavors as he continues to build and grow his business. John Dalen is truly a blessing to the autism community.

You can search the label Christian at Autism Light and learn about others whose Christian faith helps them in the world of autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Photo: The photo in this post was used with permission of John Dalen.