Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stuart Duncan

Autism Light #78 is Stuart Duncan.

Photo of Stuart Duncan

Stuart Duncan lives near Toronto, Ontario in Canada and works from home as a web developer. He has two sons, and his oldest son named Cameron has autism. Stuart is the owner/writer of a popular autism blog called Autism from a Father's Point of View. Because of the popularity of his blog, Stuart Duncan is also known to many as simply the Autism Father. On April 23, 2012, Stuart Duncan announced Autism from a Father's Point of View blog that he has Aspergers. Stuart Duncan is an Autism Light because he is performing a valuable service of sharing a father's perspective in dealing with autism.

Autism from a Father's Point of View: Stuart Duncan's blog is a very helpful resource to the autism community. You can visit his blog at A measurement of the popularity of the website is reflected in the statistics that Stuart Duncan received over 60,000 unique pageviews to his website in the first 8 months of 2011. Autism from a Father's Point of View are posts on a variety of subjects that provide helpful information to the autism community. Stuart Duncan's blog is ranked in the Top 25 Autism Blogs for 2011 by I've chosen his post on the new social media platform Google+ to represent one from many options of how Stuart Duncan's posts inform, challenge, and contribute valuable insights to the autism community. You can view this post at this link - Autism and Google+: The Potential for a New Autism Community.

Stuart Duncan's website has a comprehensive index of his present and past blogs on autism from a father's perspective and it also has information about he and his son. The site also has resources grouped into the following topics:
  • Autism Facts
  • Videos
  • Quotes
YouTube Channel:  Stuart Duncan has a YouTube channel that contains some of his favorite videos, including some of his children.  He created two original autism awareness videos that can be found on Stuart Duncan's YouTube channel.  One is called My Little Brother Has Autism. The other is called Autism Understanding and Acceptance and is included here.

Guest Blogger: Stuart Duncan has served as a guest blogger on several occasions.  Here is a list of some blog posts of his that appeared on popular autism sites.
Other Contributions: 

Social Media:  Stuart Duncan is very active in spreading autism awareness through social media. His Twitter and Facebook accounts are on the path to 5,000 followers each. You can interact with Stuart Duncan on the following social media areas.
Thank you Stuart Duncan for bringing a father's perspective to the autism parent community.  You are an inspiration and a voice for many other fathers who struggle with the world of autism in their children.  Your son can be very proud of your contributions to the autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Photo: The Photo in this post is used with the permission of Stuart Duncan.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Darlene Borre

Autism Light #77 is Darlene Borre.

Darlene Borre is from Manchester, Connecticut. Her son Ben is in 4th grade and has autism. Darlene Borre is a former attorney and presently works from home as a claims adjuster. Darlene Borre is the co-founder of All Seasons Community (All Seasons Academy), a nonprofit with the mission to build capacity to be able to supply housing needs for adults with autism in the West Hartford, Connecticut area. Darlene Borre is an Autism Light because of her fundraising efforts on behalf of families with autism.

Motivated by her own experiences as a mother of a son with autism, Darlene's immediate goal for All Seasons Community is to raise funds to give free 'sensory home makeovers' for families with children with autism.  Darlene Borre wrote this about her fundraising passion:
I have a job, so if we have to get an indoor swing, I'll get an indoor swing. But not everyone can afford it, or even know that they need it (Source).
On Saturday, October 29, 2011, All Seasons Community, will hold its first Harvest fundraiser to raise funds for these 'sensory home makeovers'. It will be held at the following location.

Zachs Community Room at University of Connecticut's School of Social Work
179 Asylum Avenue
West Hartford, Connecticut

The event will be a catered meal from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include a Silent Auction. Admission is only $20. If you are in the West Hartford, Connecticut area please consider participating in this event.

If you would like to nominate a family for the home makeover send their name to Makeovers may include equipment such as swings or weighted blankets as well as home renovations such as painting walls. Marie Mancini and Melissa Broxton, occupational therapists with Advanced Therapy Solutions in Wethersfield, Connecticut, have volunteered to do free at-home consultations with this project.

More information on Darlene Bore and her fundraising efforts can be found at the following links.
Social Media:  You can follow All Seasons Community on the following social media.

Thank you Darlene Borre for being an Autism Light and raising money for 'sensory home makeovers'. You are truly representative of a group of parents taking it upon themselves to raise money to assist other parents, who have children with autism but do not have the financial resources to be able to afford all of autism's tremendous costs.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

This Autism Light post was mentioned in the CANadda Daily on October 28, 2011.
This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eytan Nisinzweig - Susan Nisinzweig

Autism Lights #76 are Eytan Nisinzweig and Susan Nisinzweig.

Eytan Nisinzweig and his mother Susan
Today we honor Eytan Nisinzweig and his mother Susan.  The Nisinzweig family is from Riverside, Connecticut. Eytan has autism and is gifted in art and music. Seeing this artistic talent Eytan's mother Susan created the business known as EytanArt.
  • Eytan Nisinzweig is an autism light because of the ways in which he is using his art and music as inspiration to make a difference in the world as he lives with autism.  
  • Susan Nisinzweig is an autism light for finding a creative way as a parent to take the necessary steps required to help her son with autism build a business that will increase his independence as well as change the world with positive messages.

EytanArt:  EytanArt features some of Eytan's orginal artistic designs. Susan Nisinzweig writes this about the origin of EytanArt.
About a year ago, I decided it was time to start sharing Eytan's delightful artwork with others.  An inspiration led me to pair his designs with messages about respecting differences, discovering similarities and about making a difference in the world.  I created a website and started a business called EytanArt™ whose "tag line" is Designs About Difference.  The 5 designs and messages that are currently on the site have been a big hit and there will be more to come.  The exciting thing is that these designs and messages are shifting attitudes around the country and around the globe each time someone wears an EytanArt t-shirt, hangs a poster in their classroom or office, mails a note card to someone they care about, etc. 
Eytan:  Eytan will be 26 on November 1, 2011 and he is very involved in his community.  Susan Nisinzweig again writes this about her son: 
In addition to Eytan's artwork, he also contributes to our community each week through his musical talent.  He volunteers at a nursing home weekly where he plays songs from the 30's through the 70's, as well as show tunes and some classical music.  He is hired by our school district to do weekly sing-along sessions with the preschool classes and he also hired monthly to do the same at a local church pre-school.  Because of this, Eytan is well known, appreciated and loved throughout our town.  Although Eytan doesn't fully understand the impact he is having on so many people,  he is happy, he does what he loves to do, and his life has real meaning and purpose.  To learn more about Eytan and to see clips of his piano playing visit
Here is Eytan Nisinzweig singing and playing Elton John's "Your Song".  This is one of his favorite songs.

Susan:  Susan Nisinzweig is the founder of EytanArt and Eytan's mother. She is also the writer of the blog "On a Better Note" that is part of EytanArt's website.  Susan writes this about her blog:
I named the blog on the EytanArt website "On A Better Note", in an effort to counter-act all of the negativity that we so often see, hear and read in the media.  I use it as a platform to share life lessons, tips and information that has been  inspired by bringing up Eytan and that I believe would be useful to parents, teachers, therapists, and everyone else who lives with or works with children - with or without special needs.   
Susan Nisinzweig has also written an insightful article about how she started her business that is called "How I Did It" and is found on Maria

Social Media:  You may follow EytanArt on these social media areas:
For more information on EytanArt visit their website at Special thanks to Susan Nisinzweig for the use of such helpful and detailed quotations to help us truly understand these Autism Lights. One of the unique things about this post today is that it is the first time that a mother and her adult son were honored together. Susan is representative of the many mothers who never stop loving and are there to provide an extra helping hand to their adult children with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Photo: Photos in this post used with permission of Susan Nisinzweig.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dr. Jeff Kinner

Autism Light #75 is Dr. Jeff Kinner.  

Dr. Jeff Kinner is a Dentist and the Director of the Autism Dental Center for Children in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Dr. Jeff Kinner is an Autism Light because of his dedication to make the process as easy as possible for children with autism to receive needed dental treatment.

Dr. Jeff Kinner began his dental practice in Nevada in 1983.  He limits his practice to children up through age 18.  His work with autism began in earnest in 2007.  According to his website,
In 2007, Dr. Kinner had a sense that children with special needs, especially those with autism, were not receiving dental care with the dignity they deserved. He formed the Autism Dental Center for Children to forge new strategies for the treatment of children with autism. Children who were once automatically taken to a surgery center or put into a straight jacket for dental treatment are now often integrated into a private practice environment. Most can receive routine recare visits without being hospitalized, restrained, or sedated.
The following is a promotional video about Dr. Jeff Kinner's practice.

Dr. Jeff Kinner feels that traditional dental practice is often not tolerated by children with autism. He notes on the front page of his website these three ways to help children with autism adjust to dental treatment:
  1. Provide repetitive familiarization
  2. Offer rewards
  3. Listen to the parents knowledge of what works with their child
"Our philosophy is that every child with autism must be given the opportunity to receive routine dental care visits without the use of drugs or restraints," says Dr. Jeff Kinner.

The Autism Dental Center for Children is located at Summerlin Medical Center, 653 N. Town Center Drive, Suite 104, Las Vegas, NV 89144.   You may contact them through one of these means.
Social Media: You can follow Dr. Jeff Kinner at these social media areas:
For more information on Dr. Jeff Kinner and his work read his bio from his Website at this link.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Update: Dr. Jeff Kinner retired at the end of 2011. This post was written prior to his retirement. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Alex Plank

Autism Light #74 is Alex Plank.

Alex Plank is from Beverly Hills, California.  He studied film and video at George Mason University in Virginia.  Alex Plank has Asperger's Syndrome and is the CEO of Wrong Planet, a popular social website for individuals with Autism and Asperger's to communicate online with others.  Alex Plank is an Autism Light because of how his Wrong Planet website provides an online gathering place for people with autism to interact and share ideas and thoughts about all types of subjects that effect their lives.

Wrong Planet: currently has over 57,000 members who are able to interact with each other on the Website system. According to the Website this is the mission and function of Wrong Planet:
Wrong Planet is the web community designed for individuals (and parents/professionals of those) with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, PDDs, and other neurological differences. We provide a discussion forum, where members communicate with each other, an article section, with exclusive articles and how-to guides, a blogging feature, and a chatroom for real-time communication with other Aspies.
It should be noted that parents and professionals who have a connection to autism are welcome to become a member and interact with the Wrong Planet community.

Here is a video of Alex Plank discussing the origins of Wrong Planet.

Autism Talk TV:  Alex Plank is also the founder of an Internet television program called Autism Talk TV, which he started in 2010. You can view episodes of this series at this link. Autism Speaks is a sponsor of the project (Source).

Social Media:  You can follow Alex Planet and Wrong Planet at these social media areas.
Here are some other links to information on Alex Plank.
Special thanks to Alex Plank for having the vision to create a social website community geared specifically for those with autism. 50,000 members are testimony that your website is meeting some real needs in the autism community. We expect that some of the problems of both autism and the world in general will have some constructive solutions with the collective input from the amazing people at the Wrong Planet community.

For more information on Alex Plank or to become a member visit the Wrong Planet Official Website at

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Boston Red Sox

Autism Light Classic
Updated on October 31, 2013. 

Autism Light #73 is the Boston Red Sox.

The Boston Red Sox are a Major League Baseball Team located in Boston, Massachusetts. They were organized in 1901 and were one of 8 charter teams that started Major League Baseball at the turn of the 20th century. The Boston Red Sox have won 8 World Championships to date, including the 2013 World Series. The Boston Red Sox are an Autism Light because of their compassion in lending a helping hand to individuals with autism and their long standing commitment to autism awareness.

The Boston Red Sox have supported autism since 2001, when they held their first fundraiser on behalf of the National Alliance of Autism Research (NAAR). NAAR merged with Autism Speaks in 2005 (Red Sox to Celebrate Autism Awareness Day at Fenway Park,

2013 Light It Up Blue: On April 2, 2013, the facade near Gate A on Yawkey Way at Fenway Park was lit up blue as the Boston Red Sox participated for their 3rd consecutive year in the Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue Initiative (Fenway Lights Up Blue for Autism Awareness, Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, was one of 7,000 landmarks from around the world to be involved in Autism Speaks' Light It Up Blue campaign.

2013 Autism Awareness Day: On April 28, 2013, the Boston Red Sox hosted Autism Awareness Day at their game against the Houston Astros (Boston Red Sox Host Autism Awarness Day, Autism Speaks). The Boston Red Sox hosted over 900 individuals with autism and family members and caregivers at their Autism Awareness Day. Red Sox fan Brian Ferraro whose son Ryan has autism said at the event:
I've been wanting to come here (to Fenway) with my kids for a while--in fact, I have a younger child, who is a typical child, and it didn't feel right just taking him. But now that we have days like this that are welcoming for the intimidated, I think it's going to allow for more families, more families with autistic kids to attend wonderful games like this. I'm really thrilled to say that I have my two kids here with me for the first time in my life, a lifelong dream of mine (Boston Red Sox Host Autism Awarness Day, Autism Speaks).
Here is Autism Light Gianno Hitsos singing God Bless America at the Boston Red Sox Autism Awareness Game in 2013.

2007 National Anthem: The following event from the Boston Red Sox Disability Awareness Day in the Summer of 2007 epitomizes the organization's inspirational outreach for autism and disabilities. This is a video clip where a man with autism is offered a helping hand in finishing the National Anthem after he gets nervous in the middle of the song.

Two previous Autism Lights with autism were also given the opportunity to sing the United States National Anthem at Fenway Park for the start of a Boston Red Sox game.
Social Media:  To follow Boston Red Sox on social media visit these pages.
For more information on the Boston Red Sox visit these links:
Special thanks to the Boston Red Sox for shining a light on the cause autism through their autism awareness efforts. Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This Autism Light post was featured on the Boston Pro Sports Daily on October 22, 2011.
This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ann Eldridge

Autism Light #72 is Ann Eldridge.

Ann D. Eldridge lives in Sumter, South Carolina. She is President and Director of Clinical Services for the South Carolina Early Autism Project, Inc.  Ann Eldridge is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

South Carolina Early Autism Project, Inc.:  Ann Eldridge has served as the President of the South Carolina Early Autism Project since 2000.  The South Carolina Early Autism Project, Inc. is located in Sumter, South Carolina and was founded in 1998.  The mission of the South Carolina Early Autism Project, Inc. includes providing Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism and also to equip parents and schools to utilize ABA in educational moments with children with autism.  This is accomplished through working in collaboration with the various professionals and caretakers in a child's educational support network.

Teaching Career:  For 15 years Ann Eldridge served as a special education teacher in South Carolina.  In recognition of her outstanding work with children with autism, the South Carolina Autism Society gave her the teacher of the year award in 1996.

National Speaker:  Ann Eldridge was a speaker at the Autism Insurance Implementation Workshop that featured the collaboration of Autism Speaks government relations team and the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA).  The workshop was held at the first APBA national convention in April, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.

ABA Mentor:  Ann Eldridge was mentored in ABA by the remarkable Dr. Vincent Carbone.  Dr. Vincent Carbone was designated an Autism Light on July 7, 2011.

For more information on Ann Eldridge, see her biography online at the South Carolina Early Autism Project website.  Special thanks to Ann Eldridge for leading the South Carolina Early Autism Project, Inc. and assuring that ABA treatment is available to many children in the Sumter, South Carolina area.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Will and Lisa Clark

Autism Lights #71 are Will and Lisa Clark.

Will and Lisa Clark are from Louisiana. They have a son named Trey who has autism. Will Clark was a professional baseball player and is currently working in the SanFranciso Giants organization.  Will and Lisa Clark are Autism Lights because of how they have worked to raise awareness and funds to help the cause of autism.

Parents: Will and Lisa Clark's autistic son Trey is their top priority. Will Clark said this about his son:
Being a baseball player, I had to wait for certain pitches, and I had to be a patient hitter. Having a special needs child, you have to be even more patient. Patience is something that my wife and I were definitely taught because of this experience (Source).
Baseball Career:  Will Clark played 15 seasons (1986-2000) in Major League Baseball and was a six time all-star.  He started his career with the SanFrancisco Giants and concluded it with the St. Louis Cardinals. Clark's nickname was "The Thrill". His complete major league career statistics are at Will Clark was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. One of Clark's many on field achievements include hitting a home run against the great Nolan Ryan in his first major league at bat.  Here is a video that is a tribute to Will Clark's playing career.

Charitable Organizations: Will and Lisa Clark have worked with Cure Autism Now, which is now merged with Autism Speaks. They have also been involved with Athletes Against Autism.  Lisa Clark has been co-chair of a Spring training fundraising event that was sponsored by Athletes Against Autism and is put on by the Baseball Wives Charitable Foundation.

Current Position: In 2009, Will Clark was hired to work as a Special Assistant in the front office of the SanFranciso Giants and since then he has been a part of their annual Autism Awareness Night. The press release on Will Clark's return to the SanFranciso Giants organization is available at this link.  In 2010, Will Clark was part of the front office team that helped lead the SanFranciso Giants to capture the World Series Championship.

Social Media: You can follow Will Clark on the following social media.
News Stories:  The following news stories are about Will and Lisa Clark's family and autism related efforts.
Special thanks to Will and Lisa Clark for being dedicated to your son Trey and using your opportunities from success in the world of major league baseball to help raise awareness for autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post is from the Wikipedia Commons and is attributed to John Bonzo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Joseph Borio

Autism Light #70 is Dr. Joseph Borio. 

Dr. Joseph Borio is from Cicero, New York. He has operated the Borio Chiropractic Health Center for the past 20 years. Dr. Joseph Borio is an Autism Light because his chiropractic practice is helping making a difference in the lives of individuals with autism.

Research on Autism and Chiropractic: Dr. Joseph Borio is being chosen as the first representative of a growing community of chiropractors that are providing a special help for those with autism. Evidence of this is found in the number of different chiropractic practices that have chosen to put a link on their Website to this news story on YouTube of Dr. Joseph Borio's success with a boy with autism.

Dr. Frank M. Painter has compiled research on autism and chiropractic care that is available online at this link. This research may be helpful to further understand the reasons that some chiropractors are making a difference with some patients with autism.

Treating Autistic Patients:  Dr. Joseph Borio's practice at the Borio Chiropractic Health Center in Cicero, New York targets a diverse group of patients, which includes children with autism.  In 2008 a new story was written about Dr. Joseph Borio's positive involvement with treating autism.  The article and a crisper version of the above YouTube video is available at this link.

Dr. Joseph Borio explains the way treatment works for autism in this way.  "When you adjust the spine, you actually stimulate certain parts of the brain and actually turn some of those switches on (Source)."  In addition to regular chiropractic adjustments, Dr. Borio's treatment plan for children with autism includes biomedical procedures such as eliminating wheat and dairy from the diet and using volcanic ash to detoxify. Dr. Joseph Borio is also concerned about the effects of the use of vaccines and medication in children.

Consulting:  Dr. Joseph Borio also operates a consulting program for chiropractors.  His consulting practice is known as Chiropassion Consulting.  This program is allowing Dr. Joseph Borio to coach other Chiropractors.

Social Media:  You can find Dr. Joseph Borio on the following social media.
To find out more about Dr. Joseph Borio visit his biography at his Website. Special thanks to Dr. Joseph Borio for including the condition of autism in your chiropractic treatment program. To read about other Chiropractors featured on Autism Light use the Chiropractor label.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jim St. Leger

Autism Light #69 is Jim St. Leger.

Jim St. Leger lives in Phoenix, Arizona and works as the Technology Marketing Manager for Intel in California. His son Schuyler has autism.  Jim St. Leger is an Autism Light because of his advocacy and motivational speaking that help people understand autism.  

Here is a video of a dynamic presentation on autism by Jim St. Leger that is found on YouTube. The presentation is called Surprise! Your Child Has Autism. Now What!

Jim St. Leger and his son Schuyler were also involved in the Hacking Autism event on October 11, 2011.  Hacking Autism is an ongoing initiative sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and several autism organizations, where people are being invited to brainstorm ideas that can be used to create new apps for smart phones and the iPad that could potentially help those with autism.  Jim and Schuyler's idea was to use a smart phone's camera to assist children with autism to improve their comprehension of facial expressions on others.  Jim St. Leger said about this idea, "Children on the Autism spectrum, including my son, have a very difficult time understanding what you and I would take for granted with social cues, including a person smiling or frowning (Source)."   A related blog is written about Jim and his son at the Digital Scriber.

Social Media: You can follow Jim St. Leger on the following social media.
Special thanks to Jim St. Leger for the positive difference you are making for the cause of autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jewish Autism Trust

Autism Light #68 is the Jewish Autism Trust.

The Jewish Autism Trust is a charitable organization located in London, England in the area known as Edgeware. The Jewish Autism Trust is an Autism Light because of the work they do to support people with autism in the Jewish community in London.

According to their website, the mission of the Jewish Autism Trust is to "exchange ideas and experiences and to give each other mutual support."  It is aim is to help those in the Jewish community who are touched by autism. They meet once a month in members homes and offer encouragement through special speakers, special events, and ongoing email communication.

Special Speakers:  One of the ways they accomplish their mission is through arranging for special speakers to give sessions of interest to the autism community. The Jewish Autism Trust has training program on autism in 2011 included the following:

  • Mental Health and Autism Spectrum Condition
  • Autism and Sensory Issues
  • Sex and the Autism Spectrum
For more information on their training programs visit the training section of their website.

Special Events:  The Jewish Autism Trust sponsors monthly activities for its members. These include social events and autism related seminars. On December 11, 2012 there will be a Chanukah Party.  For more information visit the event section of their website.

To find out more details about the Jewish Autism Trust visit their website.  Special thanks to the Jewish Autism Trust for supporting those with autism in the Jewish community in the London, England area and being an excellent model for how an autism organization that is faith-based can reach out to its community. It seems that their model could be applied to other groups around the world.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Brett Bigham

Autism Light #67 is Brett Bigham.  

Brett Bigham is from Portland, Oregon. He is a special education teacher in the school-to-work classroom of the Multnomah Education Service District. Brett Bigham is an Autism Light because of his dedication to effectively teach children with special needs, including autism.

Online Social Books: In order to help his students with autism, Brett Bigham created picture guide books called Explore Portland. Bridget A. Otto wrote an article on these online photo books for the Oregonian. Brett Bigham said the following about the photo books.
Autistic students often use something called social stories. They are little stories written for them to learn about a big transition coming up or deal with noisy hallways. They are just a guide to read or look at...They don't understand the communication about what is going on, so they need a picture or a combination of both (Source).
Awards:  Brett Bigham was one of the finalists for the OnPoint Excellence in Education Award in 2010.

Reviewer: Brett Bigham is very knowledgeable about the needs of students with autism to transition to adulthood. In recognition of that background he a reviewer of a chapter on Independent Living and Community Participation in the 2011 publication called  Preparing Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder for Adulthood.

Special thanks to Brett Bigham for being an Autism Light by dedicating your life to teaching young people with autism in Portland, Oregon.  You are representative of the hard work and dedication of teachers of special needs students all over the world.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ernie and Liezl Els

Autism Light Classic
Updated on July 22, 2012.

Autism Light #66 is Ernie and Liezl Els.

Ernie and Liezl Els have a son named Ben who has autism. Ernie Els was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ernie and Liezl currently live in Jupiter, Florida. They also have lived in London, England. Ernie and Liezl Els are Autism Lights because of their establishment of the Els for Autism Foundation and their ongoing advocacy for autism.

Ernie is a professional golfer who is known as the "Big Easy".  In 1986, Ernie Els was the youngest player to win the South African Amateur. There is now a Ernie Els SA Primary School Championship.  His career has been marked with consistent excellence. In 2011 he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Ernie Els' PGA tour page lists his current career statistics.

2012 British Open Win:  On July 22, 2012, Ernie Els won the British Open. The Golf said, "Remarkably, Els now has won majors in three decades, and it is his fourth major championship overall. He moved to No. 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking (Golf Channel, July 22, 2012)."

ESPNmedia Video: The following ESPNmedia video tells the story of Ernie Els and his family's story of autism, which they call "A Father's Love".

Els for Autism Foundation:  In 2009 Ernie and Liezl Els formed the Els for Autism Foundation to make a difference for autism. The Els For Autism Foundation is currently on a mission to raise $30 million to complete The Center for Excellence. According to their website, the following is the vision for The Center of Excellence:
It will focus on a global digital learning platform that will give children on the spectrum around the world access to best practices in education and therapy. It will also connect the international autism community with best practices and the latest information and research. The first of its kind Center will also have an on-site education facility, medical and professional services, research and transition to adulthood.
The Els gave $6 million of their own money towards the campaign and are also working hard to raise the remaining need. The following is a PGA Tour video about Ernie Els' fundraising cause. Ernie Els concludes the video by saying, "We have to believe that anything is possible. That it is possible to find a cure and we will find a way of a better life for kids and families living with autism. I don't know if one day I'm going to be remembered as a golfer or a guy that's actually taken autism to the public, and I like the later."
Els for Autism Golf Challenge:  One of the primary ways money is raised for the Els for Autism Foundation is through the Els for Autism Golf Challenge. The challenge consists of 30 regional events with the finals for this year's event to be held October 19-20, 2012 in LasVegas, Nevada. The event has become the world's largest charity golf tournament. Els for Autism Mountain Climbing:  Liezl and her daughter Samantha climbed Killimanjaro (the largest mountain in Africa) to raise money for the Els for Autism Foundation.  A blog on their efforts is at this link. Autism Speaks Public Service Announcement:  The following PSA from Autism Speaks features Ernie Els.
For more information about Ernie Els visit these websites.
You can also follow Ernie Els on this Social Media.
Special thanks to Ernie and Liezl Els for being Autism Lights and responding to your son Ben's diagnosis of autism by creating an autism foundation that can benefit thousands of children around the world. Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. Photo: The Photo of Ernie Els is in the Creative Commons of Wikipedia and is attributed to SD Dirk.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Camp Rising Sun

Autism Light Classic
Updated on June 6, 2015. 

Autism Light #65 is Camp Rising Sun.

Camp Rising Sun is a camp program for children with autism in New Mexico. The camp is held at the Manzano Mountain Retreat in the Manzano Moutains southeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Camp Rising Sun is an Autism Light because of the helpful way in which they are helping children with autism to have a camping experience.

Camp Rising Sun was formed in 2006 and in 2009 it's programs became part of the autism programs at the University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability.  The camp is accredited by the American Camp Association.  It's mission involves the three tier approach of providing life-changing camp experiences to children with autism, providing practical training on working with young people with autism to camp staff and volunteers, and giving respite for parents of children with autism.

Here is a video about the programs at Camp Rising Sun.

Camp Rising Sun states on their website that their "Camp activities may include swimming, hiking, sports and games, arts & crafts, theater, photography and video, geo-caching, music, campouts, nature activities, campfires, low and high ropes and challenge course, martial arts, campfire and evening programs, and a variety of other activities."

Here is a video of a Camp Rising Sun Success Story called "Jack Goes to Camp".

Camp Rising Sun has two weeks of camp. One week is a Teen Camp and the other is a Kids Camp. The camp schedule for 2015 is available at the Camp Rising Sun page on the University of New Mexico Website.

Social Media: You can follow Camp Rising Sun on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Camp Rising Sun for being an Autism Light. They are an excellent example of the partnership between university and nature in shining a light for individuals with autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dr. James Adams

Autism Light #64 is Dr. James Adams.

Dr. James B. Adams, Ph.D. is from Phoenix, Arizona. He has a long tenure of serving as a professor of chemistry at Arizona State University and he is currently a President's Professor and the Director of the Autism/Asperger's Research Program at Arizona State University, where he is responsible for ASU's cutting edge autism research. His research has focused on the biological causes of treatments of autism. He went in this direction after his daughter Kim was diagnosed with autism in 1994.

Nightline Presentation:  The following is a portion of a Nightline special on Dr. Adams' story.

Specific Research: 

I asked Dr. James Adams if there are three things that people who have a loved one with autism would find helpful related to his research.  He noted research has found that these three treatments are helpful to many children or adults with autism.
  1. Vitamin/mineral supplements. Dr. James Adams indicated that he considers his most important research study to be the one called the "Nutritonal and metabolic status of children with autism vs. neurotypical children, and the association of autism severity."  This was published in 2011 and is critical to understanding the role that vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids have in individuals with autism. The study found statistically significant nutritional deficiency in people with autism. It has important implications for the utilization of a dietary plan for treating people with autism.
  2. DMSA therapy to remove toxic materials. In 2009 Dr. James Adams did a study related to the safety of oral DMSA therapy which is available online at this link
  3. Seizure treatments. In 2011 Dr. James Adams completed a study on various traditional and non-traditional seizure treatments which is available online at this link. The research can help with selecting a treatment for seizures for people on the autism spectrum. 

Autism/Asperger's Research Program at ASU:  Dr. James Adams is the director of the Autism/Asperger's Research Program at Arizona State University.  The AARP at Arizona State University says their "focus is primarily on biomedical issues, including nutritional deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity, and bacterial/yeast overgrowth in the gut."

Autism Society of America: Since 2000, Dr. Adams has served as the President of the Autism Society of America's Greater Phoenix Chapter. In 2007, Dr. James Adams received the Evening of Champions Award from the national Autism Society of America. The award was given for research and service to autism.

Autism Research Institute: Dr. James Adams has been involved in the Autism Research Institute as a board member from 2007-2009.  He is also currently the co-chair of the Science Advisory Council of the Autism Research Institute. Dr. James Adams has presented science workshops at Autism Research Institute Conferences, including the one October 13-16, 2011 in LasVegas, Nevada.

Dr. James Adams is an Autism Light because his scientific research on the causes and treatments of autism is very helpful to the biomedical area of the autism community. For more information on Dr. James Adams view his full resume available at this link at the website for the Autism/Asperger's Research Program at Arizona State University.

Special thanks to Dr. James Adams for being dedicated to conducting priceless research on autism.  Your time and findings are providing the opportunities for new insights into treating autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Photo: Photo in this post used with permission of Dr. James Adams.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Monday, October 10, 2011

J. Manerling

Autism Light #63 is J. Manerling.

J. Manerling works in the field of neuroscience. He is a father of a son with autism. J. Manerling is an Autism Light because he utilized a cat named Clover to help his son with autism. He also wrote an article about his families experience with the cat.

Richard was non-verbal at age 4.  His father wondered if a pet might help him. After bypassing a dog, Richard picked a cat out at the animal shelter. His choice was clear because his first spoken word was when he said, "Cat." The family decided on the name Clover for the cat because it was easy for Richard to say (no small feat for a boy with autism). Clover helped Richard grow by being there to listen to him in a non-judgmental manner. Richard grew so much in his life he went on to attend college as an art major.

J. Manerling tells the story of the miracle that Clover brought to his son in an article. For more information read the full article written by J. Manerling at this link.  J. Manerling's story of Clover was also highlighted on the blog called Your Cat Care Guide and the blog called Hemmingways Cat Adventures.

J. Manerling writes this disclaimer about pet therapy at the end of his article.
Courtesy of Grant Thompson
I would caution that I don't know if pets improve the life of all children with autism. However, there is a great deal of anectdotal material out there, including books of people with autism whose lives have been enriched by domesticated animals such as cats, dogs, and horses. I have known a little boy with autism who is a very different person when he is with his dog. I have a strong suspicion that there is some correlation. 
Sadly, the Manerling family cat named Clover has passed on but the true story of her ability to brighten the life of a boy with autism lives on. The story of Clover as shared by J. Manerling is a positive part of the history of cat therapy for people with autism. also has more stories on the subject of cat therapy for autistic children. If you want to read about other cats at Autism Light you can search for them with the label "Cat".

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Photos:  The picture on the top of this post was taken by Alan Stokes of his autistic son Jonathan and their cat Misty sitting together.  The photo of the 3 cats is courtesy of Grant Thompson.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Christopher Duffley

Autism Light Classic
Updated on May 3, 2018

Autism Light #62 is Christopher Duffley.

Christopher Duffley was born in May 2001. He lives in Manchester, New Hampshire and is blind and has autism. His disabilities have not stopped Christopher from inspiring millions of people around the world as a musician, and more recently as a podcaster. He primarily sings Christian and patriotic songs. In 2014, his family created Know Greater Love Ministries. Christopher Duffley is an Autism Light for sharing his musical talent and inspiring people with his splendid voice and amazing life story.

ABC News 20/20 did a segment on Christopher Duffley in 2016. The news story gives an inspirational look at Christopher's life.

Christopher Duffley in 2011, when he debuted at Autism Light
Christopher has been blind since birth. He was born premature and weighed only 1 pound and 12 ounces. Steve and Christine Duffley adopted him in 2003, and they have encouraged his musical talent since he was a young child. The story of his early life is on his YouTube Channel.

Christopher Duffley sings Christian worship at churches and patriotic music at sporting event venues like Fenway Park and NASCAR. One of his international performances took place in 2015 when he was part of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia during the visit of Pope Francis.

Christopher Duffley's rendition of the Christian worship song Open the Eyes of My Heart, performed in Concord, New Hampshire in 2011, went viral and was seen all over the world. Millions of viewers have seen one of the various versions on the internet of Christopher singing this song.

Albums: Christopher Duffley has produced two albums. Eyes of My Heart was produced in conjunction with Steven Taylor in 2012 and in 2015 he released Believer with his sister Grace. You may purchase those albums at the product store on his website.

Podcast: Christopher Duffley has a podcast called Mission Possible that he launched in April 2016. He has done almost 75 podcasts as of May 2018. You can access his podcasts through his website

Awards: In 2013, Autism Speaks named Christopher to their honorable list of "10 amazing individuals with autism who shined". 

Social Media: You may follow Christopher Duffley at the following Social Media.
Special thanks to Christopher Duffley for being an inspirational singer and a living legend that shines to the world through his blindness that people with disabilities can accomplish great things. We couldn't begin to cover all of his performances and accomplishments in this profile, but we are eager to follow the ongoing growth of his career and are confident that his efforts will continue to bless the autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The Photo in this post was received from Christopher Duffley's family for use here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Felicity Nyambura Ngungu

Autism Light #61 is Felicity Nyambura Ngungu.

Felicity Nyambura Ngungu is a Founder member of the Autism Society of Kenya and has served as its Director and Chief Executive Officer since 2000. Felicity Nyamburu Ngungu has a grandson with autism.

Felicity Nyambura Ngungu is a graduate of Sussex Institute of Economics and Management. She majored in Marketing, Nutrition, and Oral Health and worked for 23 years for East Africa Industries (which is now Unilever Kenya) doing demonstrations on nutrition and health.

She has traveled to two other continents of the world to learn about autism and she is passionately dedicated to do all she can to help the Autism Society of Kenya make a difference for people living with autism in Kenya. Felicity Nyamburu Ngungu is an Autism Light because of her leadership and development of the Autism Society of Kenya.

On September 9, 2003 the Autism Society of Kenya opened up a program in the City Primary School in Ngara. The Autism Society of Kenya describes their program on their Website in the following way:
The core of our autism program is a nutritional program, which runs concurrently with an appropriate and highly structured educational program. Dietary intervention is one of the therapies, which has shown consistent positive results in the management of a child with Autism. Intensive occupational and educational program incorporating principles of behavior modification must accompany this.
The Autism Society of Kenya has an excellent website at The Website has information on the organization's activities and some helpful information to families living with autism in Kenya. They have an Information Portal and also have a separate section for Dietary Interventions. The following is a video that the Autism Society of Kenya has put together and features on their Website.

The Autism Society of Kenya also has an excellent Facebook Group you can join to stay informed of their activities.

Special thanks to Felicity Nyambura Ngungu for spreading light and hope for those who have autism in Kenya. Felicity's hard work for autism in Kenya is a tremendous blessing to the cause of autism in Kenya and she is a bright and shining light in the global autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jamie Manning

Autism Light #60 is Jamie Manning.

Jamie Manning lives in Boston, Massachusetts and works in the marketing field. He is a father of a child with autism and is also a musician who wrote an album of music focused on autism. Jamie Manning is an Autism Light for sharing his heartfelt music and writing on the theme of autism and parenting.

Jamie Manning has had an interest in music since he was very young and he wrote his first song at age 10. Almost three years after his son was diagnosed with autism, he began to write an album of songs to show how parents struggle with autism.

Album: His album What Remains features exclusively songs that communicate a parent's feelings about dealing with autism. A list of songs on the album accompanied by audio clips is also on his Website. Jamie Manning tells the story behind the album on his Website.  His dedication of the album on his website includes this:
I dedicate What Remains to the parents who are fighting the good fight every day to give their special children a chance in this world. They fight insurance companies that will not pay for critical therapy, school systems that blithely ignore federal laws while providing inadequate services, and a bevy of carpetbaggers who exploit their desperation to find a cure in order to make a fast buck. They are often abandoned by family and friends and judged by those who know nothing of their struggle. They give up their homes, retirement savings, and any other assets to move their children as far as they can into this world. Yet despite all this, they are some of the kindest, most generous people I've known. You will rarely find people as courageous.
Autism Supporter:  Jamie Manning conducts charitable concerts for autism.  In addition, a portion of the sales of his songs is donated to Autism Speaks.

Writer: Jamie Manning was featured in the book, Autism, Heartfelt Thoughts From Fathers.  He wrote a section called "Casualities of War".

Grant Award:  In 2009 Jamie Manning won a Passim Iguana Music Fund Grant. On his Facebook Group he indicated the grant was going to be used to build a home studio so he could finish a second album on autism. To join his Facebook Group go to this link.

For more information on Jamie Manning visit his website at or

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: Photo in this post used with permission of Jamie Manning.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Autism Light Classic
Updated on March 21, 2012.

Autism Light #59 is the iPad.

In Memory of Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. created the iPad. It was first released on April 3, 2010.  The iPad is an Autism Light because of the amazing way it is being used as a resource to help people with autism learn, communicate, and have fun. It is also being used by parents and professionals to improve teaching of people with autism. This is the first time an inanimate object has been made an Autism Light.

The iPad is a tablet computer-like device that uses various Apps to do different functions. It requires the user to touch the screen to interact with programs. The iPad can access the Internet through WiFi and and a high end model can also access it without WiFi through the 3G network. In two years there are now hundreds of Apps for the iPad being created to help people with autism. The iPad is very portable and light weight and can be used for people with autism both in home and school environments.

New Versions of iPad: The second generation known as the iPad 2 was released on March 2, 2011 and the third generation known as the iPad 3 was released on March 16, 2012. The growing popularity of the iPad is reflected in the fact that in the first weekend of sales over 3 million iPad 3 devices were sold (Source).

The video below was produced by Apple Inc. and shows how the iPad is being used to specifically help those with autism.

There are hundreds of stories of how the iPad is being used for people with autism, because as Dr. Howard Shane said in the above video, the iPad is a game changer.  Here are links to three YouTube videos that feature families using the iPad to help their children with autism.
Many leaders in the autism community have noticed the difference that the iPad is making for children with autism, including these three Autism Lights.
  1. Gary James and his organization Apps for Children With Special Needs, specializes in demonstrating how the iPad Apps work. Gary James also has started programs where he is working on giving away an iPad to someone in each of the 50 states and to acquire 500 iPads for 100 schools. Gary James was Autism Light #55.
  2. Curtis Maybin and his website, Autism News Wire, has a section devoted to news on the iPad. Curtis Maybin was Autism Light #51
  3. Laura Shumaker wrote a very helpful blog post called iPad for Autism: Selecting the Best Apps. Laura Shumaker was Autism Light #40.
The following is a video by a mother of a child with autism reviewing some useful Apps that can be used with the iPad. 
Here are some resources for additional information on the iPad as it applies to autism.
Facebook:  You can follow the iPad page on Facebook and you may also find the iPad for Autism Facebook page to be helpful in keeping updated on how to use the iPad for autism. Wikipedia: You can also visit the iPad's Wikipedia page. Special thanks to Apple and Steve Jobs for creating the iPad. Autism Light was saddened along with the whole world to hear of the death of Steve Jobs, but there is a sense in which Steve Jobs will live on in the autism community through the iPad. For a list of iPad apps that have been featured by previous Autism Lights visit our Apps page at Autism Light. You may purchase the iPad from the Apple Store. Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.