Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Susan Boyle

Autism Light #329 is Susan Boyle.



Susan Boyle
Susan Boyle is a 52 year old singer from Scotland in the United Kingdom. Susan Boyle gained international fame on April 11, 2009, when she was a sensational success in her singing debut on Britain's Got Talent, where she sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. After Susan Boyle's surprise debut performance, she went on to become a professional singer and actress. Her debut album was the fastest selling debut album of all time in the United Kingdom.

Susan Boyle revealed in December of 2013, that she had been diagnosed about a year ago with Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. Susan Boyle is an Autism Light for how the sharing of her diagnosis of autism can help raise understanding and acceptance of autism by adding to the list of autism legends in the music field.

Here is the full clip of Susan Boyle's 2009 audition in Britains Got Talent. Notice how her amazing singing ability surprises everyone. This video version of that night has received over 141 million views on YouTube to date. I personally never tire of watching it again.
 
 
Susan Boyle told the Guardian regarding her autism diagnosis, "I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what's wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself (The Guardian, December 7, 2013)."

In an interview with the International Business Times, Susan Boyle also said, "Asperger's doesn't define me. It's a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself. People will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do (International Business Times, December 8, 2013)."

The National Autistic Society considers Susan Boyle an example of the 'invisible generation' of adults with autism that went undiagnosed for years (BBCNews Scotland, December 9, 2013).

The following is a news story from CNN about Susan Boyle being diagnosed with autism. 
 
 
The Huffington Post: The Huffington Post spotlighted Susan Boyle in their December 12, 2013 article about influential individuals with autism called These 8 People Will Change the Way You Think About Autism and Asperger's.
 
Movies: Susan Boyle has appeared in the following films.



Music Albums: Susan Boyle's music is very popular in both the United Kingdom and the United States and has sold 14 million albums worldwide (International Business Times, December 8, 2013). Susan Boyle has produced the following music albums.
  • I Dreamed a Dream (2009)
  • The Gift (2010)
  • Someone to Watch Over Me (2011)
  • Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage (2012)
  • Home for Christmas (2013)
Her album I Dreamed a Dream became the fastest selling debut album in the United Kingdom. In addition, to these albums fans in the United Kingdom can hear Susan Boyle when she holds a tour of concerts.

Author: In 2010 Susan Boyle wrote the book The Woman I Was Born to Be: My Story.

Christian Faith: Several of the songs that Susan Boyle has given to the world on her popular albums are about the Christian faith. Susan Boyle credits her Christian faith for helping her cope with grief when she lost her beloved mother Bridget in 2007. She said, "That's what keeps you going. I have my faith, which is the backbone of who I am, really."(Christianity Today, November 17, 2009).

Website: To keep informed of the latest developments with Susan Boyle visit her website at www.susanboylemusic.com or you can interact with other fans at the Susan Boyle Fansite.
 
Wikipedia: You can find out more about Susan Boyle's life on the Susan Boyle Wikipedia Page.

Social Media: You can follow Susan Boyle on the following social media areas. 

Special thanks to Susan Boyle for being an Autism Light. We expect to continue to hear amazing things from her as she shares her gift of music and represents adults with Asperger's through her example and growth.

The photo of Susan Boyle in this post is in the Wikipedia Commons.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Louisiana Lights



The State of Louisiana is the home state of 4 Autism Lights. They include parents, and aunt, and a country music singer who wrote an autism awareness song.

 Louisiana Autism Lights

  1. Will and Lisa Clark are autism parents from Louisiana. Will is a retired major league baseball player. Their son Trey has autism.
  2. Geri Landry is an autism aunt from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her nephew Joseph Sullivan has autism. She founded Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana. 
  3. Mark Leland is a country music singer who wrote the autism song called "Missing Pieces". He is from West Monroe, Louisiana.
  4. Vickie Nettles (1963-2014) is an autism mother from Lafayette, Louisiana who passed away in August of 2014.
You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "Louisiana" Label.


The map of Louisiana is from the Wikipedia Commons.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tennessee Lights



The State of Tennessee is the home state of 7 Autism Lights honored in 6 posts. Tennessee Autism Lights include two musicians, a golfer, a young man with autism, and a landmark.

 Tennessee Autism Lights

  1. Belmont University Music Therapy Program is a undergraduate academic program that teaches students how to be professionals in music therapy and work with individual with autism. Belmont is located in Nashville, Tennessee. 
  2. Graceland Mansion is the home of Elvis Presley and is a Landmark in Memphis, Tennessee that participates in the Light It Up Blue campaign for autism awareness.
  3. Cynthia Joyner (1981-2013) is the Autism Mother from Chattanooga, Tennessee who died on July 20, 2013, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. She was a volunteer with the Chattanooga Autism Center.
  4. Cliff Kresge is the Autism Father from Kingsport, Tennessee, who is a professional golfer. His son Mason has autism. 
  5. Josh Turner is a star country music singer from Nashville, Tennessee, who let a man with autism named Logan Blade sing with him on stage at the Grand Ole' Opry. Both Josh Turner and Logan Blade were named Autism Lights in the same post.
  6. Jaci Velasquez is a Christian and Latin Pop singer from Nashville, Tennessee. Her son Zealand has autism. 
You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "Tennessee" Label.


The map of Tennessee is from the Wikipedia Commons.

Friday, December 27, 2013

North Carolina Lights



The State of North Carolina is the home currently to 9 Autism Lights, a football team,a football quarterback, 3 autism fathers, a musician, an autism uncle, a camp, and a psychologist.

 North Carolina Autism Lights

  1. Jason Allison is an Autism Father and the Assistant Coach at Appalachian State Men's Basketball program in Boone, North Carolina.
  2. Dwayne Ballen is an Autism Father and Sportscaster from Durham, North Carolina who wrote the book "Journey with Julian". 
  3. Dr. Brian Bowman is an Autism Father and a Medical Doctor from Cary, North Carolina.
  4. Jamie McMurray is an Autism Uncle and NASCAR driver from Mooresville, North Carolina.
  5. Cam Newton is the quarterback for the Carolina Panthers who showed kindness to a boy with autism in 2015. He is from Charlotte, North Carolina. 
  6. Johnny Orr is a Musician from Raleigh, North Carolina who wrote the song We'll Get By (The Autism Song).
  7. Carolina Panthers: An NFL franchise based in Charlotte, North Carolina who have reached out to some special fans with autism. 
  8. Dr. Eric Schopler (1927-2006) was a professor and psychologist whose work at the University of North Carolina helped lead to the growth of the TEACCH Autism program around the world. His home was in Mebane, North Carolina.  He is on the Autism Light Memorial Roll. 
  9. Talisman Camp Programs offer camping programs for individuals age 8-22 with autism. They are located in Zirconia, North Carolina
You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "North Carolina" Label.


The map of North Carolina is from the Wikipedia Commons.

Reader's Choice Awards for 2013

2013 was our third year at Autism Light. Here are the top posts and special awards at Autism Light from the year according to reader views. This is not meant to diminish the value of any of our posts or the subjects they reflect, it just reflects the one's that were accessed most.

Most Popular New Posts:
  1. Lorri Shealy Unumb's post debuted on July 29, 2013. This post about an Autism Mother, advocate, and attorney from South Carolina quickly made it's way into the top ten of all-time posts.
  2. A post on a boy named Ethan debuted on February 1, 2013. Ethan is the 6 year old boy with Autism from Midland City, Alabama who was held hostage for almost a week. During Ethan's captivity all new posts were suspended in honor of Ethan.
  3. Deron and Amy Williams' post debuted on March 30, 2013. This post is about an NBA player for the New Jersey Nets and his wife who are inspirational autism parents.
  4. Iris Halmshaw's post debuted on July 5, 2013. This post is on a 3 year old artist from the United Kingdom who has autism.
  5. Donald Triplett's post debuted on April 6, 2013. Donald is 80 years old and lives in Mississippi and is the first person diagnosed with autism.
  6. Spencer Timme's post debuted on July 16, 2013. This post is on an Autism Brother from Virginia, who has a special bond with his autistic brother Mitchel.
  7. Ethan Walmark's post debuted on September 16, 2013. Ethan is an 8 year-old musician/singer who has autism and lives in Connecticut.
  8. Dr. Bryan Jepson's post debuted on May 4, 2013. Dr. Jepson is an Autism Father and physician from Texas.
  9. Harrison Teuber's post debuted on July 3, 2013. Harrison is a 15 year old with Autism from Illinois who formed a business to deliver groceries to people in his community.
  10. John Schneider's post debuted on April 13, 2013. John Schneider is an actor (known best for starring in 'Dukes of Hazard') from California who is also an Autism Father.
Most Google+1's: Joel Manzer's post had Nine (9) Google+1's during the year. Joel is an Autism Father from Virginia and the editor of Autisable.

Most Popular Backlight: Scott James' post as Autism Light #30 returned for an encore appearance on April 4, 2013. Scott is a singer from the United Kingdom who has autism. Scott James' post continues to be a reader favorite since it's debut in the first months of the Autism Light blog on September 6, 2011.

Most Visited Memorial Post: Cynthia Joyner (1981-2013) is the Autism Mother from Tennessee who passed away on July 20, 2013.

Most Popular State Light: The Alabama State Lights has been a popular post to find all the Autism Lights from Alabama.

Most Comments:  A post on a boy named Ethan debuted on February 1, 2013. Ethan is the 6 year old boy with Autism from Midland City, Alabama who was held hostage for almost a week. During Ethan's captivity all new posts were suspended as the autism community went to prayer and waiting for a resolution.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Elaine Hall

Autism Light #328 is Elaine Hall.

Photo of Elaine Hall

Elaine Hall (AKA 'Coach E') is a former Hollywood acting coach and the Founder and President of The Miracle Project, a creative arts project for autism students in Los Angeles, California. Elaine Hall's son Neal Katz, who she adopted from an orphanage in Russia, is an adult now who has autism. Elaine Hall is an Autism Light because of how her vision and passion for The Miracle Project has taken positive action to shine a light for autism. Elaine's work is an inspiration to the entire autism community, but especially within the Jewish community.

The New York Times has called Elaine Hall the 'Child Whisperer' for her amazing gift as an acting coach. The Golden Hat Foundation website says this about Elaine Hall.
She has been the subject of articles in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, among many others and has appeared on CNN, CBS News, Oprah Radio and NPR. Elaine has coached children on numerous TV shows and films which include Honey I Blew Up the Kids, The Flintstones, and Akeelah and the Bee (The Golden Hat Foundation Biography for Elaine Hall).
 
Autism Mother: Elaine Hall is first and foremost an Autism Mother who is dedicated to her son Neal Katz, who was adopted from Russia, all the while maintaining an ambitious work that helps other families. The following is an interview Elaine Hall did with Autism Live about her life with her son Neal and her use of the dramatic arts to join his world.


Elaine Hall on Labels: Elaine Hall uses the following illustration to break down the stigma of the high functioning/low functioning labels often used in autism. She says,
I don't believe in the labels 'high functioning/low functioning.'  We are all high functioning in things we enjoy and excel in - and low functioning in areas that we are challenged with.  If you put my son Neal in a noisy classroom with 30 children each clamoring  for the teacher's attention, Neal may put his hands over his ears, run around in circles and appear 'low functioning.' If you place him in the Santa Monica Mountains, he will lead those very same 30 children and the teacher on a long arduous hike with twists and turns that only he can navigate.  High functioning. Same with me! It's easier for me to write a script than to figure out how to copy, collate and where to file it.  I prefer to say, "needing different supports in different environments" rather than "high functioning and low functioning (Elaine Hall, Email to Autism Light, 12/27/2013).
The Miracle Project: The Miracle Project is a theater and film program for autistic children and their siblings and friends that Elaine Hall founded in 2004. The Miracle Project is best understood as a,
Multiplatform socialization program that enables children and teens with autism and other special needs to express themselves through music, dance, acting, story, and writing. ALL children of ALL abilities grow in skill and in spirit while creating and performing in original musicals (The Miracle Project Website).
You can read more about The Miracle Project on their website or their Wikipedia page. Here is the trailer to The Miracle Project.


The Miracle Project Judaica: Elaine Hall has been a wonderful advocate for autism within the Jewish community and she also founded The Miracle Project Judaica in 2011 to offer an inclusive Jewish based theater group for special needs children, including those with autism. The Miracle Project Judaica offers resources for education in the Jewish community, including instructions for a multi-sensory, individualized Bar/Bat Mitzvah for those with special needs.

The Miracle Project Judaica was selected by the prestigious Slingshot Fund naming The Miracle Project Judaica as one of the top 18 Jewish organizations in North America fostering inclusion (Slingshotfund: Disabilities & Inclusion Supplement, 2013/2014).  Here is Elaine Hall explaining about how The Miracle Project Judaica is enriching the Jewish autism community.
 
 
Autism: The Musical: The HBO Documentary on the Miracle Project was called Autism: the Musical. Premiering in 2007, Autism: The Musical was written by Tricia Regan and won two Emmy awards. More information on the film is at their website at www.autismthemusical.com or on the Wikipedia Page for Autism: The Musical. You can watch a video of Autism: The Musical on YouTube.

Author: Elaine Hall is the author of the book Now I See the Moon: A Mother, A Son, and the Miracle of Autism, which is her memoir and was published in 2010. You can purchase her book from the publisher HarperCollins PublishersNow I See the Moon received praise from two other Autism Lights.

Elaine Hall is also the co-author along with Diane Isaacs of Seven Keys to Unlock Autism: Making Miracles in the Classroom, written in 2012. This book offers help in how to make meaningful connections with children with autism.

Blogger: You can read articles written by Elaine Hall at the following links.

Website: If you want to learn more about Elaine Hall's ongoing work you can check out her website called Coach E on Autism.

Elaine Hall on Empathy: Elaine Hall believes individuals with autism have empathy and she explains what she means in this way,
Some people say that individuals with autism lack in empathy and emotion.  I find the exact opposite to be true.  My friends, students, colleagues with autism are some of the most sensitive people I have ever had the privilege to know.  They may show their affection in different ways than neurotypicals do i.e. my son might smell someone he favors, or will touch someone's shoulder to show he cares.  But the sensitivity is there (Elaine Hall, Email to Autism Light, 12/27/2013).

Social Media: You can follow Elaine Hall on the following social media.
Speaker: Elaine Hall is available for speaking on autism to groups. For more information you can find contact information for her on her website. She is also is involved in speaker's bureau's including:
World Autism Day-2013: Elaine Hall spoke at the United Nations for World Autism Day in 2013. A clip of her speech is available in a news story at the Vista Del Mar website.

Special thanks to Elaine Hall for being an Autism Light. Her leadership in The Miracle Project and as a writer, autism mother, and autism advocate is an inspiration to the autism community. Elaine's special projects for the Jewish community serve as an inspiration to those within that community who have autism or special needs.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photo in this post is used with permission of Elaine Hall.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kidzcare

Autism Light #327 is Kidzcare.


Kidzcare is a non government organization that created the world's first autistic choir comprised of children from the Autism Society of Malaysia. The choir performed at the Dewan Fiharmonik Petronas, Kuala Lumpur on June 28, 2010, in order to raise awareness of autism in their homeland. Kidzcare is an Autism Light for how their leadership with this autistic choir helped raise awareness of autism in Malaysia. Kidzcare becomes the first Autism Light to come out of Malaysia.

The choir's hours of practice were in preparation for a successful performance in front of dignitaries and officials at Dewan Fiharmonik PETRONAS on June 28, 2010, that included as honored guest the Prime Minister of Malaysia's wife, Datain Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor.  Brian John Yim wrote a song for the choir and directed the 25 member choir through six months of practice. The following is a video of the song the autistic choir sang called, Show Me the Way.



Adam Feinstein explains this about the history of Kidzcare:
Kidzcare, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, was started in 2010 by a group of individuals interested in helping children in need, and a desire to make Malaysia known as a caring country for kids. They recognised that there were inadequate facilities for children with disabilities in Malaysia and that they could make a positive difference to the lives of Malaysian children who have some form of disability (Adam Feinstein, 'World's First Autistic Choir' Formed, Looking Up, Volume 5, No. 4).

The advertising company Lowe & Partners sponsored the project as part of their 50th Anniversary. The following is a documentary on autism in Malaysia and the achievement of the Kidzcare autistic choir to raise awareness among corporate and government leaders in Malaysia.


Mike Plascow, Kidzcare Foundation's founder said, “The choir demonstrated that people with learning disabilities are gifted and it is a matter of giving them opportunities to realise their full potential (Adam Feinstein, 'World's First Autistic Choir' Formed, Looking Up, Volume 5, No. 4)."

For more information on the autistic choir of Kidzcare read Adam Feinstein's article 'World's First Autistic Choir' Formed in Looking Up, Volume 5, No. 4). Adam Feinstein was Autism Light #321.
 
Special thanks to Kidzcare for organizing the world's first autistic choir. We honor Kidzcare in this post, and also recognize that the choir could not have happened without the collaberation of many entities such as The Autism Society of Malaysia, Lowe & Partners, Brian John Yim, and Mike Plascow. The acomplishment of this choir is a testimony in Malaysia and to all of the autism community around the world about the potential of children with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kmart in Bateau Bay

Autism Light #326 is the Kmart in Bateau Bay.




The Kmart in Bateau Bay, Australia is a discount department store.  The Kmart in Bateau Bay is located in the Bateau Bay Square, which was built in 1984. Kmart in Bateau Bay is an Autism Light because they replaced some Christmas gifts that were stolen from an autism family who bought them at their store.

Jenny O'Donnell is a single mother who had purchased some Christmas gifts on layaway for her two children. She has a daughter Eliza and a son named Connor who is 15 and has autism. Connor's gifts included a popular Skylanders toy and some DVDs.

Jenny O'Donnell had paid for the items at layaway but then left them at the check-out counter when she purchased some other items. When she returned to get them they had been taken.

Mike Charlton, the store manager of the Kmart in Bateau Bay, said, "It was very unfortunate that this should happen. Christmas is about making people happy (Kmart replaces Christmas gifts stolen from autistic teenager, The Telegraph, December 23, 2013)."   After hearing of her loss Mike Charlton decided that his Kmart store would replace the Christmas gifts that Jenny O'Donnell lost at the checkout counter.

Special thanks to the Kmart in Bateau Bay, Australia for setting an example for other businesses in kindness toward autism families. The generosity of this business made a difference in Jenny O'Donnell's family and is an inspiration at this time of the year.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chris Koru

Autism Light #325 is Chris Koru.

 
Chris Koru is a truck driver for UPS in Wichita Falls, Texas. On Friday, December 20, 2013, he helped police find a missing teen with autism named Robert Adams. Chris Koru is an Autism Light for his quick thinking that helped find a missing teen with autism, potentially preventing a tragedy.

17 year old Robert Adams was reported missing by his parents on December 20, 2013, at about 2:00pm. Law enforcement mobilized and had been trying to find this missing boy with autism for three hours. Chris Koru was making a delivery in the area of Cunningham Elementary School that afternoon and he noticed Robert Adams walking in the neighborhood. A few minutes later he took a break and checked the weather on the Texomas Homepage App for KFDX on his mobile smart phone. On the app he noticed an alert that there was a missing austic child and recognized the photo as that of the boy he had seen walking around on his route. He then notified police who were already searching for Robert Adams of the boys location, and he kept an eye on Robert's whereabouts until police arrived (Driver Locates Missing Teen With Autism, Texomas Homepage, 12/20/2013). 
The following is a news story that KFDX did on Chris Koru helping find Robert Adams.
Special thanks to Chris Koru for being alert and helping find Robert Adams when he was missing. Wandering is a safety issue for individuals with autism and Chris Koru's quick thinking might have prevented a tragedy.  It is inspiring to hear of workers like Chris Koru, who become Autism Light unexpectedly in the the midst of their everyday routine at work. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Natalie Palumbo

Autism Light #324 is Natalie Palumbo.

Autism Light 324 Natalie PalumboPhoto of Natalie and Anthony Palumbo

Natalie Palumbo is 19 years old, and a college student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. Her home is in Columbia, South Carolina. Her older brother Anthony has low-verbal autism. As a sibling of an individual with autism, Natalie takes very seriously a responsibility to care for her brother over his lifespan and she is a natural advocate for autism. Natalie currently serves as the sibling voice for the Age of Autism web newspaper. Her relationship with Anthony is an inspiration to other autism siblings and families. Natalie Palumbo is an Autism Light for the difference she is making in the life of her brother who has autism and how her creative art and writing encourages the greater autism community.

Artist: Natalie just successfully completed her first semester at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida with an A average. She hopes to work in visual effects in film and animation. Natalie became interested in art at an early age, because drawing helped her cope with the isolation imposed by autism and was the only way she could communicate with her brother. Some of her artistic achievements already include:
  • In 5th grade she was recommended to competitive fine arts programs.
  • Natalie won several regional, state, and national awards for traditional, digital, and mixed media pieces.
  • In 9th grade, she won the Nevitt award for “Most Outstanding Art Student” after completing all four years of Tri-District Arts Consortium in Lexington County.
  • In 11th grade, she created an art piece called “NOT Born This Way”, which featured her brother Anthony in a significant way. She expressed her concern for the growing numbers of people diagnosed with autism, and how society is unprepared to deal with this increase. This concern was the subject of her senior thesis.
  • Her PSA for Age of Autism took 1st Place in the PSA Category at the Notre Dame High School National Film Festival in the Spring of 2013.
Here is the Public Service Announcement that Natalie Palumbo created on autism awareness for Age of Autism in the Notre Dame High School National Film Festival.


Here is a news story done on Natalie Palumbo and her relationship with her brother in October of 2012.


Natalie Palumbo offered this perspective to Autism Light on finding a cure for autism.
Growing up, those who thought of autism only as a verbal condition criticized me for wanting a cure for my brother. They actually asked me,
“If you love your brother so much, why do you want a cure?”
They did not understand how Anthony’s low-verbal autism made him vulnerable to danger, and how lack of communication limits his life. Anthony will need lifetime care. I feel it’s important to identify the cause of autism to prevent it as well as treat it. Some people with autism are gifted and verbal, but only represent about 30% of the spectrum. I responded to criticism by saying…  
“If you can argue against a cure, you don’t need one. For those without a voice, we can never stop fighting for a cure. We cannot neglect the many for the exceptional gifts of the few.”

Age of Autism: The Age of Autism is a Daily Newspaper on the Autism Epidemic that is Edited by Dan Olmsted, Kim Stagliano, and Mark Blaxill. Natalie Palumbo serves as the Sibling Voice for Age of Autism. Her writing on this daily web newspaper on autism is having a significant impact. You can access the over 20 posts she has written through her page on Age of Autism.  Some of her favorite posts include:

Autism Light asked Natalie how her relationship with a brother with autism impacts her life and she said this:
Anthony keeps me young. He is immune to the world’s negativity. It
is a blessing and a curse for me. Anthony is unaware when people
are intolerant, so I hurt for the both of us. It does comfort me that he
is unaware of people’s ability to be cruel. I can escape into his world
where our childhood is never-ending. He still thinks of me as 6 and
him as 9. Anthony acknowledges that I’m in college, but his interaction
with me remains frozen in time. Anthony speaks in chunk phrases from
his echolalia. He will repeat a phrase, and change certain words to
suit his message. This is how he copes with having no conversational
speech. This results in funny phrasing that we call “Anthonyisms”. I
started a Tumblr at the suggestion of one of my friends who enjoyed the
Anthonyisms as my Facebook statuses. Anthony inspires my art. He is
highly visual to compensate for being low verbal. I focus on whatever
captures Anthony’s attention. I try to see the world through Anthony’s eyes.

Social Media: You can follow Natalie Palumbo's work on the following social media areas.

Here is a video of Natalie and Anthony dancing to a light hearted song together.


Being Anthony’s only sibling, Natalie anticipates being his caregiver one day when her parents are no longer able. Special thanks to Natalie Palumbo for being an Autism Light as a sibling voice for autism. Her thoughts challenge the autism community to listen to autism siblings to make sense of the puzzle of autism. We look forward to continuing to hear about the great things Natalie will do in the future to raise awareness for autism.

If you enjoyed this post you may wish to read about the other Autism Lights with the label Siblings. These people share the special perspective in their story of having a sibling with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photos of Natalie Palumbo with her brother Anthony in this post were used with permission of Natalie Palumbo.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bob and Dreama Denver

Autism Light #323 is Bob and Dreama Denver.


Bob Denver was the comic actor who starred in the sitcom Gilligan's Island. Bob Denver died on September 2, 2005, from cancer. Bob Denver was an autism father who quietly spent the last two decades of his life caring for his autistic son Colin. Bob's widow Dreama Denver is an author, speaker, runs The Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio, and continues to care for the couple's son Colin Denver. Bob and Dreama Denver are Autism Lights because of how their devotion to their son and their journey with autism has increased autism awareness. In addition, Bob Denver will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

Actor: Bob Denver starred as Gilligan in the popular sitcom Gilligan's Island which originally aired from 1964-1967.  Bob Denver also starred as Maynard G. Krebs in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which aired from 1959-1963. You can read more about Bob Denver's career at Bob Denver's IMDb Page or the Wikipedia Page of Bob Denver. Bob Denver was not wealthy as he was only paid for the original shows he did and had no residual income from the numerous years of syndication and reruns of his beloved shows.

Autism Father: Dreama Denver shared with Fox411's Pop Tarts column about Bob Denver as an autism father.
I wanted the fans to know who he really was because he was a special, special man, especially when dealing with our son Colin, who has severe autism. I thought it was important to tell people that he set aside the last 21 years of his life to be with me and take care of our son, who had to have full-time care, [because he] didn't want me to do it alone. That speaks to the type of human being he was...He was highly intelligent, and I think that is the most surprising thing about him. He was extremely intelligent, and that didn't always come across in the characters that he played (Fox News, Wife of Late Bob Denver Says, 11/15/2012)

Little Buddy Radio: Bob and Dreama Denver founded Little Buddy Radio that provides a variety of music that comes from different decades of history. Dreama Denver continues to manage Little Buddy Radio. You can listen to the radio station online.

Foundation: Bob and Dreama Denver established The Denver Foundation in honor of their son Colin who has autism. The foundation operates in West Virginia and has a partnership with ResCare to meet the needs of special needs families in the community. You can learn more about The Denver Foundation at www.bobdenver.com/the-denver-foundation.  The following is a video where Dreama Denver reflects on Bob Denver.

Author: In September, 2012, Dreama Denver published Gilligan's Dreams: The Other Side of the Island. The book shows people that Bob Denver loved in his life and includes a discussion of his relationship wth his autistic son Colin.

Autism Mother: Dreama Denver encourages other autism mothers and widows who are caring for children with autism alone while she promotes her book on her family. She said, "Even when you get a heartbreaking diagnosis for your child -- and even when you lose the person in your life who is everything to you and shares the load with you -- that you can survive. It really is a book about hope and survival and mainly about making commitments and keeping them (WDTV.com, Wife of Deceased Actor Shares Her Story, 4/13/2013)."

Special thanks to Bob and Dreama Denver for being a light for autism. The autism community is grateful for the light of Bob and Dreama Denver and for the courage of Dreama Denver as an autism mother who continues to make a difference for autism without the support she once had of her husband Bob Denver.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.