Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lisa Ackerman

Autism Light #23 is Lisa Ackerman.

Lisa Ackerman is making a tremendous difference for autism most visibly through the organization she founded called Talk About Curing Autism. She founded it in 2000 as a parent support group after her son Jeff was diagnosed with autism. Today it helps several thousand families a year with chapters in 18 states.

This YouTube video shows a bit about the families that are helped by TACA and includes Lisa Ackerman in it.

Lisa Ackerman is an Autism Light because of her many accomplishments to the autism community. Here are a few highlights.
Special thanks for the valuable contributions of Lisa Ackerman, an Autism Light.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Photo: Photo in this post used with permission of Lisa Ackerman.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dan Burton

Autism Light Classic
Updated on May 26, 2015. 

Autism Light #22 is Dan Burton.
                                                                                                           Former Congressman Dan Burton

Congressman Dan Burton was born on June 21, 1938, and is from Indianapolis, Indiana. He represented Indiana's 5th and 6th congressional districts in the United States House of Representatives from 1983 until his retirement in 2013. His grandson Christian Sarkine has autism. Congressman Burton is an Autism Light because of his efforts when in Congress to advocate for those with autism, including by working to assure better access to health care and treatments for those with autism. He has been a tireless autism advocate on calling for prevention, research, and safer vaccines.

Here is a YouTube video showing part of an interview with Dan Burton on Autism recorded while he was an active Congressman.

On his former Congressional Website he wrote: My only grandson is autistic, so this is an issue that is very close to my heart.

Letter to President George W. Bush: On May 15, 2003, Dan Burton wrote a powerful Letter to President George W. Bush on Autism. Here is a paragraph out of the letter that Congressman Burton sent the President of the United States.
Mr. President, as a Nation we are facing a crisis regarding the dramatic rise in autism rates and the resulting emotional and financial strain placed on families, our educational system--as they attempt to educate these children who have very special needs - and our state Medicaid and disability programs. We face and even greater crisis in the next two decades as the need for adult services and long-term housing for today's autistic children simply explodes (Dan Burton, May 15, 2003). 

Anderson Cooper Interview: In February, 2015, Dan Burton was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN in which the two had a discussion about the safety of mercury in vaccines. Dan Burton believes his grandson Christian Sarkine developed autism shortly after receiving childhood vaccines. (Anderson Cooper, Josh Feldman, February 5, 2015).

Social Media: The following are some social media accounts related to Dan Burton's work.
Thanks to Dan Burton for being an Autism Light. The autism community was blessed to have you in Congress. It is hoped that other politicians will take Congressman Burton's example and make autism their passion.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

    Photo Information: The above photo of Dan Burton is in the public domain.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    David Humphrey

    Autism Light #21 is David Humphrey
    Update: This post was updated on October 14, 2011.

    David Humphrey is the President of Kirkman Labs, located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. David Humphrey is an Autism Light because of his leadership in guiding Kirkman Labs to create quality tested products that change lives and serve the autism community in new and innovative ways.

    On June 25, 2011, Humphrey received the first ever "Champions of Autism" (A.K.A. "Hero of Autism") Award from Northwest Autism Foundation. A press release on that honor is found at this Webpage.

    After reflecting on the award David Humphrey said:
    "I’m honored to be the first recipient of the foundation’s Hero of Autism award. But really, it’s the kids and the families of the kids with autism that are the real heroes. They are the reason why we all do as much as we can.”
    Kirkman Labs was started in 1949 and is a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Oregon that specializes in nutritional supplements for individuals with special dietary needs, including autism.

    David Humphrey is a leader in a number of advocacy organizations and is a member of the Health Advisory Board of The Autism Society.  Special thanks to David Humphrey for making a difference for those with autism.

    Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    David Militello

    Autism Light #20 is David Militello.

    Photo of David Militello
    David Militello

    Referred by many as a "Little Michael Jackson", David Militello was born in Georgia on February 4, 1999.  David sings Pop, Christian, and R&B. David Militello's musical talent is all the more impressive considering he has autism and struggles with verbal communication. David Militello is an Autism Light because as he uses his talent in signing he is showing the world that people with autism can achieve success as they do what they were meant to do with their life.

    David Militello was introduced to the world on the public stage of "America's Got Talent" in 2008, at the young age of 9, where he made it to the top 50. Below is a video of his performance of the song Ben on America's Got Talent in 2008. Many more videos of this musical wonder are available on David Militello's YouTube Channel.

    In addition, to singing he is an actor, comedian, and author. He has been granted numerous opportunities to perform at important events such as the following:
    For more information on what David Militello is currently doing with his career visit these pages.
    Booking: For information on booking David Militello's services call (678) 558-7103. 

    Social Media: Find David Militello on the following social media. 
      Special thanks to David Militello for being an Autism Light. His gift for singing is an example to others with autism who might be considering a musical career. David inspires us to realize just how great the results can be when people with autism are allowed to cultivate their talents. 

      Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

      Photo: The photo in this post was used with the permission of Patty Militello (Image Source).

      Thursday, August 25, 2011

      White Castle

      Autism Light #19 is White Castle.

      White Castle celebrates it's 90th birthday today and Autism Light thinks they are celebrating the occasion perfectly by announcing a new donation of $500,000 to Autism Speaks.  This brings its total giving in the last 18 months to $1 million.  A press release on the event is at  Information on their "Puzzle Piece" campaign that made this possible is at their corporate website.   Below is a commercial for White Castle. 

      White Castle is an Autism Light because of this critical corporate giving. Their fundraising efforts are applauded. Special thanks to all the patrons of White Castle who gave in their "Puzzle Piece" campaign.  

      Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

      Friday, August 19, 2011

      Dr. Albert Cotugno

      Autism Light #18 is Dr. Albert Cotugno.

      Dr. Albert J. Cotugno is a psychologist with over 30 years experience of providing group and individual psychotherapy services to children with special needs, many of whom have autism. He presently practices in Needham, Massachusetts and is an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Albert Cotugno is an Autism Light because he is the author of two important books encouraging social competencies for children with autism.

      The following is a video about Dr. Albert Cotugno's work with children with autism.


      Books on Autism:
      More information on these books is available at

      For more information on Dr. Albert Cotugno's work you can visit his official website at

      Special thanks to Dr. Albert Cotugno for his work in helping children with autism.

      Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Thursday, August 18, 2011

        Brian Calley

        Autism Light #17 is Brian Calley.

        Brian Calley is from Portland, Michigan. He is the current Lt. Governor of the State of Michigan and has served since 2011. He was elected in 2014 to a second term expiring in 2018. Born on March 25, 1977, he is the second youngest Lt. Governor in the history of Michigan. He also has a daughter named Reagan who has autism. Brian Calley is an Autism Light because of his advocacy for autism insurance.

        One of Lt. Governor Calley's special causes has been advocacy for mandated autism insurance coverage. On April 27, 2011, Brian Calley was one of the speakers at a fundraising dinner for autism that centered on the theme of "A Father's Perspective on Autism".  Below is a video presentation by Brian Calley on Autism Insurance Reform.

        Here is an interview on YouTube where Brian Calley discussing his personal passion for autism insurance in Michigan. He makes a case that there are financial benefits for society to treating autism as opposed to letting children with autism become dependents all their lives.

        To learn more about Brian Calley's work you can interact with the following Websites.
        Special thanks to the Honorable Brian Calley for being an advocate in the Michigan State Government for autism insurance and causes. There is a website on the Autism Insurance Reform issue in Michigan that features The Honorable Brian Calley at this link.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Photo: The photo in this post was taken from Wikipedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

        Tuesday, August 16, 2011

        Autism Light #16 is
 is a website that focuses on the impact of autism on African Americans.  The website explains its passion by saying, "Raising a child with Autism can be difficult for anyone, however in the Black community there are additional challenges that may affect us."

        It organizes information into three categories:  medical, educational, cultural. The website has a deep level of commitment and they are providing a spotlight on the issue of autism in the minority community of African Americans. Google recognizes this commitment because when you Google "Autism Black" this website comes up at the top of the search. is an Autism Light because they are providing information that is necessary as the world needs to be better equipped to help individuals with autism of all races.  This site is specifically of value to any African American family with a child with autism, but it is also has relevance to anyone who desires to understand more about autism and it's impact on African Americans.

        To visit this excellent website go to

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Monday, August 15, 2011

        Mark Leland

        Autism Light #15 is Mark Leland.  

        Mark Leland is from West Monroe, Louisiana.  Mark Leland is a country singer who has been very supportive of autism. His music often tell stories and some are about autism.

        Missing Pieces: Mark Leland wrote the song, "Missing Pieces" about his manger's son who was diagnosed  with autism. An excellent biography and glimpse into his song on autism is provided by This is one of the top songs about autism and has shared this at numerous fundraising events for autism.   Listen to this wonderful song on YouTube here.  If you like the "Missing Pieces" song you can purchase it at

        Thank God for Grace: Mark Leland also sings another song about autism called, "Thank God for Grace," which is about a girl who has autism and mitochondrial disease.  You can listen to this song here.

        Mark Leland is an Autism Light because he is an advocate for autism through his gift of music. Autism needs music. Mark Leland provides some excellent songs for the cause which also help organizations raise needed funds for autism programs. To listen to other songs by Mark Leland visit his YouTube Channel.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Update: This post was updated on October 7, 2011.

        Saturday, August 13, 2011

        Dr. Barbara Firestone

        Autism Light #14 is Dr. Barbara Firestone.  

        Dr. Barbara Firestone
        Dr. Barbara Firestone is the President & CEO of The Help Group.  The focus of her organization is on helping children and families with special needs.  What started in 1975 has branched into a group of related agencies, including seven schools located in the greater Los Angeles area.  You can read a more thorough biography of Barbara Firestone at Below is a YouTube video that describes more of the powerful school resources at The Help Group and an appreciation to Hasbro's help.

        Barbara Firestone is an Autism Light because of all she has done for the cause of autism in Los Angeles and around the world.  In addition to being founder and CEO of The Help Group, in 2007 she published a book called Autism Heroes: Portraits of Families Meeting the Challenge. This book tells the stories of 38 diverse families who face the challenges of raising a child with autism. The cheapest place to purchase the book is from her website called Autism Heroes.  All proceeds from the sale of the book go to The Help Group.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Photo: Photo in this post used with permission of The Help Group.

        Thursday, August 11, 2011

        Elizabeth Becker

        Autism Light Classic
        Updated on January 13, 2013. 

        Autism Light #13 is Elizabeth Becker.  

        Elizabeth (Liz) Becker is an author, speaker, teacher, and scientist from Wytheville, Virginia.  She is also the mother of four children, including Matt Johnson, a young adult with autism. Elizabeth Becker is an Autism Light for the way in which her blog, The World According to Matt, is raising autism awareness.

        Elizabeth Becker with her son Matt
        Liz Becker chronicles her son's amazing accomplishments in her exceptional website called World According to Matt.  The website gives personal glimpses into how Matt is living his life with autism to the fullest with the support of a loving mother and family. People who visit this site will find that it provides encouragement to many through Matt's stories from when he was growing up to this present life as a 27 year old, and there is a lot of diverse resources on the site for people to like. One will also find news, research, resources, and a free members social area. On September 30, 2012 her blog reached 2.5 million visitors and they are on their way toward 3 million. In 2012, her blog was on's Top 30 Autism Blogs for Parents list.

        Professional: Liz Becker is a biology teacher at Wytheville Community College in Virginia. She is also a research scientist who authored research on the courtship of male and female spiders. Her paper can be found online at this link. You can read about more of her achievements on her amazing biography on her website.

        Here is a video of Liz Becker explaining her blog and her family's journey with autism on Autism Live.

        Elizabeth Becker is an Autism Light because she is a strong advocate for autism and she takes time to publicly encourage parents. On her blog post written on Aug. 9, 2011, she says,
        "So this week I have a request.  If you know a parent of an autistic child, (if you're reading this then you probably do) give them some praise and possibly a shoulder to cry on.  Let them know that you are aware that what they face is a life-long journey and that the stress can sometimes be overwhelming.  Help them stay on their road and focused toward the future."
        Liz's son Matt was diagnosed with autism back in 1988, prior to the epidemic of autism cases being diagnosed. Liz's love for her son Matt reminds us of the following saying:  To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world. It's people like Elizabeth Becker that make autism's load lighter for so many people around the world thanks to the Internet.  She is currently finishing a book on communication with the non-verbal autistic child (Autism and the basics of non-verbal communciation) and if her website is any indication of her work the book should be a 'must read book' for the autism community.

        Social Media: You can find Elizabeth Becker and "The World According to Matt" on the following social media.
        Special thanks to Elizabeth Becker for being a light for autism. Her writings are raising awareness for autism around the world. We look forward to hearing more about her autism awareness in the future.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Photo: Photo in this post used with permission of Elizabeth Becker.

        Tuesday, August 9, 2011

        Darryl and Tracy Strawberry

        Autism Lights #12 are Darryl and Tracy Strawberry.

        Darryl and Tracy Strawberry
        Darryl Strawberry is known for being a former star Major League Baseball Player who hit 335 home runs in 17 seasons.  For full achievements see his ESPN stats page.  His personal life off the field was rocked by legal problems related to drug use and a battle with cancer. More details of his life can be found in his book Straw: Finding My Way that was published in 2010.  

        Darryl Strawberry has said, "I'm not ashamed of who I am. Of course I'm ashamed of the things that have happened. But with life experiences, you're able to give back and help others." None of Darryl Strawberry's children have autism, but he was so moved by meeting parents and autistic children that he decided to "give back and help others" through the cause of autism.

        Darryl Strawbery and his wife Tracy formed a foundation in 2006 that benefits autism.  Along with promoting the cause of the foundation they speak on the subject of their Christian faith, which they credit with saving their life. Their official webpage of the Darryl Strawberry Foundation is at  You can also find other related sites of Darryl and Tracy Strawberry at the page

        The following video below is Darryl Strawberry speaking at Bedstock 2010. In the presentation he reveals his passion to help those with autism.

        Here are some links to other information on Darryl Strawberry.
        The autism community is grateful for all the work that Darryl and Tracy Strawberry do to raise awareness and help make a difference for those who have autism.  Celebrities often take on the cause of autism if they have a child with the condition, but it is very encouraging to see an example of someone who has chosen to fight autism without having the personal family connection.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        This Autism Light Post was mentioned in the Spectrum Mom's Daily on August 9, 2011.

        Photo: Photo in this post used with permission of Darryl and Tracy Strawberry

        Friday, August 5, 2011

        Barry and Judith Nelson

        Autism Lights #11 are Barry and Judith Nelson.

        Barry and Judith Nelson
        The Nelson's are parents of a child with autism and co-founders of The Victory Center for Autism & Behavioral Challenges, a school in South Florida.   Judith serves as Executive Director of The Victory Center.   The Victory Center was opened in June, 2000 and bases it's methodology for education of autism on the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis.

        ©2011 The Victory Center
        The following YouTube video shows testimonials on how The Victory Center has impacted the life of students and family members.

        For more information on work of The Victory Center visit their website at

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

        Photo: Photo and logo in this post used with permission of The Victory Center.

        Wednesday, August 3, 2011

        Connor Musk

        Autism Light #10 is Connor Musk.

        Connor Musk is from Erlanger, Kentucky and in July, 2011, when he was 7 years old, he was credited with saving the life of a 4 year old boy who was drowning in a pool.  Connor saw the boy go to the bottom of the pool and he immediately dove in and brought him up to the surface.  He then called for help.  Connor Musk has Asperger's, a form of autism.

        For more information see the news article on this event at the following websites.
        Special thanks to Connor Musk for being a hero with autism.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Tuesday, August 2, 2011

        Russell Lehmann

        Autism Light #9 is Russell Lehmann.

        Russell Lehmann
        Russell Lehmann is giving to the world through his special gift of poetry. He resides in Nevada and has autism. Russell Lehmann is an Autism Light because of the way his poetry touches people and provides a window into the poetic gifts of some people with autism.

        Inside Out Book Published:  Russell Lehmann's first book on poetry called Inside Out was published in October, 2011. The title for his book seems to come from a quotation Russell Lehmann said, "One way I like to define myself living with autism is that I'm closed on the outside, and open on the inside. I may come across as not listening or paying attention, but trust me, I am."  Dr. Temple Grandin, another Autism Light herself, has called his work "Beautiful". 

        Here is a video of a news story on Russell Lehmann's poetry talent.

        Website: You can learn more about Russell Lehmann on his website at

        Thanks for being an Autism Light, Russell.

        Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

        Photo: Photo in this post used with permission of Russell Lehmann.

        Note: This post was updated on October 18, 2011 to reflect the publication of Russell Lehmann's book.