Thursday, August 30, 2012

Brian Bowman

Autism Light #225 is Dr. Brian Bowman.

Dr. Brian Bowman is a pediatrician from Cary, North Carolina. His son Spencer has autism. Dr. Brian Bowman is an Autism Light for being an autism faither and for using his expertise as a medical doctor to raise autism awareness, especially through a partnership he has with the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Dr. Brian Bowman was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1967. He received his M.D. from the Duke University School of Medicine in 1998. He has served as a pediatrician for the Cary Pediatric Center since 2001, seeing patients in their Apex, North Carolina office (Source).

Dr. Brian Bowman is married to Helen Haput and the couple has two sons Barry and Spencer and a daughter Mary. The following is an interview with Dr. Brian Bowman where he discusses his son Spencer, who has autism, and offers encouragement to other autism parents.
Dr. Brian Bowman offered these words of encouragement to parents of children with autism in the above interview.
What I like to tell parents is that raising a child with autism is running a marathon. It's not a sprint. There will be a lot of different challenges on the way--turns on the road. Hills and valleys. And sometimes that will seem very exciting and major breakthroughs and sometimes where it just doesn't work. I suggest to parents that they educate themselves, that they understand what resources are available to them.
A portion of Dr. Brian Bowman's above interviewe was condensed into the following Public Service Announcement by the Autism Society of North Carolina.
Special thanks to Dr. Brian Bowman for shining a light for autism in North Carolina as both an autism father and pediatrician.  Dr. Bowman holds the distinction of being the first Autism Light from the State of North Carolina.  If you liked this post you may wish to read about the other Autism Lights who are also physicians by clicking on the "Physicians" label.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jamie Grover

Autism Light #224 is Jamie Grover.

Jamie Grover is from Orlando, Florida and serves as the Group Director for Autism on the Seas. He also is a writer and a certified assistance dog trainer. Jamie has an adopted son named Dennis who has autism. Jamie Grover is an Autism Light for the diverse ways he has contributed to the autism community. His life is a life full with autism, whether he is facilitating recreation for hero autism families or hanging out with his adopted son between cruises.

Most autism fathers would say they didn't choose autism, but autism chose them.  However, for Jamie Grover, it was a personal choice to make the lifetime commitment to be an autism father. His son, Dennis Rudd-Grover, was a teenager who had autism at the time that Jamie adopted him as his son. The two's relationship started in a Best Buddies program in Dennis' middle school and it became evident that the two were meant to be a family. Dennis also works on staff with Autism on the Seas and has the opportunity to travel with his father on cruises.

"It used to upset me when asked if I adopted my son knowing he was autistic," said Jamie Grover. "I've had some ask, "Why?" when I say, "Yes." And I've been asked why I adopted outside my race. With all the children in the world that need loving homes, special needs children often grow up in foster care homes never knowing what it's like having a family of their own. I highly recommend adopting a loving special needs child. My son, now 23 years old, is the greatest gift God could have ever bestowed upon me. I cannot imagine my life without having this remarkable young man in my life. Adopting an autistic young adult has not always been easy, but I would not hesitate for a second to do it again!"

Certified Dog Trainer:  Jamie Grover served as the West Coast Representative for the North Star Foundation, an organization which pairs children with autism and other special needs with trained service dogs. He worked with North Star Foundation for 8 years and is a certified North Star dog trainer. He has trained dogs for several autism situations, including a family with triplets who all have autism. For more information on the North Star Foundation visit their website a
Autism on the Seas: Jamie Grover has served as the Group Director of Autism on the Seas since 2006. Autism on the Seas conducts 15-20 cruises per year and cruises will have programs geared specifically to meet needs of people with autism and virtually any congnitive, intellectual, or developmental impairment--of any age.  Jamie Grover is responsible for the autism program on the cruise. He arranges for staff who will work with those with autism during Autism on the Seas cruises. Staff may include special education teachers, BCBA's, occupational therapists, or students, and the ratio of staff to children is kept at 1:3 or 1:4. Note also that the cruise can accommodate individuals with autism of any age and they have had adults with autism experience this unique vacation as well.

Jamie Grover wrote this about his passion for serving families on Autism on the Seas.
I’m the father of a special needs child myself, so I understand some of the challenges that you go through. We really wanted to provide a total vacation, not only for the child on the autism spectrum or with Down syndrome or whatever the special need is, but we really wanted to provide a vacation for the moms and dads and the siblings (Source).
The following is a video about some of the activities on an Autism on the Seas cruise.

The YouTube user The AutismDaddy wrote this about Jamie Grover on a comment to the above video.
I wish we had someone with Jamie’s heart heading our schools and teaching our school officials, he’s just that amazing of a human being. Hands down the most amazing vacation we’ve ever had! We cannot wait to cruise again with Autism on the Seas next year. I strongly recommend to anyone with a special needs child not cheat themselves out of this experience!
If you are an autism family and would like to experience a cruise with Autism on the Seas visit their website at for more information.

Social Media: You can follow the work of Autism on the Seas at the following social media sites.

Writer: Jamie Grover worked for the University Center for Developmental Disabilities at California State University-San Bernadino for 12 years. He was the programs Project Coordinator and Editor of the centers quarterly publication "The UCCD Voice."  Jamie has written and published many articles related to the special needs of children on the autism spectrum and their families. Here are a couple of samples of his writings:
  • On the High Seas. UCDD (University Center for Developmental Disabilities) Voice Publication - Summer 2008. This is a recounting of the first Autism on the Seas cruise Jamie Grover led as Group Director.
  • Parent-Teacher Teamwork. Special Education Advisor, August, 2012. This is an article that gives wisdom from Jamie Grover's experience as an educator and understanding the perspective of both a parent and an educator.

Group Counselor: Jamie Grover has been a parent group counselor and has taught workshops, including positive parenting techniques, parent communication and wellness, and IEP planning & strategies.

Special thanks to Jamie Grover for the light that he brings to the autism community. Whether he's tirelessly facilitating Autism on the Seas cruises for families to receive some much needed rest and relaxation, writing about the needs of people with autism, or just hanging out with his son Dennis, Jamie Grover's life is shining to make the world a better place for those with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo's: The photos in this post were used with permisson of Lisa Kaslyn of Autism on the Seas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

North Dakota Autism Center

Autism Light #223 is the North Dakota Autism Center. 

The North Dakota Autism Center, Inc. is a nonprofit (501c3)organization located in Fargo, North Dakota. They are serving the autism commnity through their AuSome Kids Day Care Program, AuSome Kids Early Intervention Program, and school consultation. They are an Autism Light because these services help children with autism in North Dakota and make a difference in their young lives.

AuSome Kids is the name the North Dakota Autism Center has claimed for their day care programs and it is indicative of the value they place on children with autism.  According to their website the mission of the North Dakota Autism Center is:

To help children affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to reach their full potential through excellence in care, instruction and support (Source).

Here is a video about the work of the North Dakota Autism Center, Inc.

North Dakota Autism Resources: A list of related links to autism services in North Dakota is available on the website of the North Dakota Autism Center.

Fundraiser: On September 8, 2012, the North Dakota Autism Center will host their Walk for Autism 2012. More information is available on their website.

Contact:  For more information on the North Dakota Autism Center email them at or visit their facilities at 4733 Amber Valley Parkway Suite 200, Fargo, ND 58104.

Social Media: You can follow the North Dakota Autism Center on the following social media:
Special thanks to the North Dakota Autism Center for being an Autism Light for families in North Dakota. If you live near Fargo, North Dakota there are plenty of opportunities to be involved in this charity. The awesome efforts of this organization, their staff, board, and community partners have given the North Dakota Autism Center the distinction of being the first Autism Light from the state of North Dakota.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tommy Hilfiger

Autism Light #222 is Tommy Hilfiger.

Tommy Hilfiger is a fashion designer whose company's label Tommy Hilfiger is renowned around the world as a trendsetter in pop culture. He was born in Elmira, New York, on March 24, 1951. Tommy Hilfiger is an autism father and step-father. He has a 16 year old daughter named Kathleen who has autism. In addition, his wife Dee's teenage son has autism. Tommy Hilfiger is an Autism Light for his dedication as an autism father and for his efforts to raise autism awareness through fundraising and public service announcements.

Started in 1985, the Tommy Hilfiger Group is now a 4.6 billion dollar aparrel and retail company. Tommy Hilfiger's contribution to the Group is described this way on their website.
Under Hilfiger’s guidance, vision and leadership as Principal Designer, the Tommy Hilfiger Group has become one of very few globally recognized designer brands offering a wide range of American-inspired apparel and accessories (Source).
More information on the Tommy Hilfiger Group and causes they support can be found on their website (Source).

In June, 2012, Tommy Hilfiger disclosed that his daughter Kathleen has autism. He shared that he had cooperated with Autism Speaks to make the following Public Service Announcement in November, 2011 to honor his daughter Kathleen (Source). The ad is part of the "Odds" Campaign by Autism Speaks. 

Tommy Hilfiger said this about why he is so involved in the cause of autism,
It's just heart-wrenching and I wish more people cared about it. The government is not involved in it. People aren't donating enough money. There's not enough research. There's no cure. It needs help, so we've become involved (Daily Mail, June 5, 2012).
Also Tommy Hilfiger said this about his partnership with Autism Speaks:
I am proud and honored to partner with Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to the research and family support needed to treat and prevent autism. My family has been affected by autism, so I understand the challenges many families face today. I hope that in working with Autism Speaks, I am able to let other families know that they are not alone and that there is hope (Source).

On December 5, 2011, Tommy Hilfiger was honored by Autism Speaks at A Funny Affair for Autism at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Social Media: You can follow the Tommy Hilfiger Group at the following social media areas.
Wikipedia:You can also learn more about Tommy Hilfiger at his Wikipedia Page.

Special thanks to Tommy Hilfiger for being a light for autism. The autism community is fortunate to have a renowned fashion designer like Tommy Hilfiger a part of the chorus of individuals raising awareness for autism.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.  
Photo: The photo in this post is from the Creative Commons at Wikipedia and is attributed to user Saloca.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jeff Francoeur

Autism Light Classic
Updated on June 6, 2015.

Autism Light #221 is Jeff Francoeur. 

Jeff Francoeur is from Lilburn, Georgia. His fans have given him the nickname "Frenchy". Jeff Francoeur is a Major League Baseball player. He played for the Kansas City Royals from 2011-2013. On June 19, 2012, when the Kansas City Royals were on the road playing a game against the Houston Astros, Jeff Francoeur took time during batting practice to spend a moment with a 7 year old boy with autism. Jeff Francoeur is an Autism Light for that kind gesture.

On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, Tammy Blanchard Robertson of Houston, Texas posted the following letter on the Facebook page of the Kansas City Royals. She sent a special thank you to Jeff Francoeur for the attention he gave her 7 year old son who has autism. This letter explains the details of the moment when Jeff Francoeur was an Autism Light.
Dear Jeff Francoeur, 
Just last night my husband, daughter and 7 year old son attended the Royals vs Astros game here in Houston. My husband was born and raised in KC and our family lived there for 5 years before we were transferred to Houston. 
Last year my son was diagnosed with Autism. Going to large stadiums that are really loud are out of my sons comfort zone, we told him we were going to see the KC Royals and he was instantly excited. 
We made sure to get to the game early so that we could find our seats before the stadium filled up. We were lucky enough to get to the stadium while the Royals were having their batting practice. 
My husband told our son that he should call you over and that you may autograph his cap for him. As my son yelled with hope in his voice, you came jogging over to us. My son was so excited when he saw you coming over that he fell while trying to climb over the seats to the front row. It is rare that we see our son get excited over anything to do with sports as Autistic children tend to be more interested in books, and computers rather than sports. 
Our son stared up at you with tears in his eyes, you took the time to coddle him, ask his name and make him feel special. 
We just wanted to say thank you for not only taking the time to come over to see our son, but for signing his hat, and posing for a picture with him. It is truly a day that our son will never forget. You are a true role model, this was a day our family will always remember.  
In 2015 Jeff Francoeur was playing outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies.You can view the career highlights of Jeff Francoeur on his Website at One of Jeff Francoeur's achievements is that his first major league hit on July 7, 2005, was a Home Run.

Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew covered this story of Jeff Francoeur shining his light for a 7 year old boy with autism in a sports blog post titled Jeff Francoeur Shares Special Moment with Autistic Child. A photo of this Autism Light moment can be seen as part of that feature. 

Wikipedia: You can also keep tabs on Jeff Francoeur at his Wikipedia page.

Each of us has within us the power to shine our light for others, but Jeff Francoeur was uniquely positioned to make this difference to a boy with autism who attended a Major League Baseball game. Special thanks to Jeff Francoeur for helping make life brighter for a boy with autism and his family. Jeff Francoeur shows us how the simple act of giving a little bit of our time in life can make such a difference in the life of a person with autism. 
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo of Jeff Francoeur is from the Wikipedia commons and is attributed to Keith Allison.