Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bruno Silikowski

Autism Light #97 is Bruno Silikowski.

Bruno Silikowski is the owner of the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Bruno Silikowski is an Autism Light because he helped a single father give an early Christmas gift to his autistic daughter.

Maddy Wagner is 14 years old and has autism. She also idolizes cars of all shapes and sizes. Her father Richard Wagner put an unusual ad on Craigslist seeking someone to give Maddy a ride in a fancy car. Bruno Silikowski saw the ad and sent out an email to his friends at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen, Minnesota about the request. Bruno Silikowski challenged his customers who are owners of various high end luxury cars, "Instead of giving her one ride, let's give her a whole lot of rides."

Here is a video of a news story on Maddy receiving her day at the AutoMotorPlex. Bruno Silikowski is featured in this heartwarming video of an Autism Light in action.

13 car owners offered their luxury wheels to give Mandy Wagner rides at the AutoMotorPlex on Friday, November 25, 2011.  It took Mandy Wagner 2 hours to ride in each one.

Read the Startribune article On the Fast Track to a Wish Come True for more details about Bruno Silikowski and his gift to Maddy Wagner.

Bruno Silikowski provides proof positive that sometimes when we least expect it we can become an Autism Light. Bruno Silikowski is an excellent example of a small business owner who literally went an extra several miles to be an Autism Light.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dylan Yates

Autism Light #96 is Dylan Yates.

Dylan Yates is a high school senior from Royal Oak, Michigan. Dylan has autism and has a special gift for art. Dylan Yates is an Autism Light because he displays outstanding artistic skills and is using this talent to give back to autism charities in his community.

Toothy the Dragon Rabbitt
Calendar:  Dylan Yates created a 2012 Calendar around a Dinosaur theme. The calendars are available for $14.00 and may be seen online at  Proceeds from the sale of this calendar will be divided between Dylan and the following two Autism charities in Dylan's community:

Dylan's Interests: Dylan lives an active and full life. One of Dylan's favorite classes in high school is the Visual Imaging class. His mother Donna Yates shares that, "Dylan loves swimming, bowling, plays indoor soccer with a special needs group and can play the piano."

Dylan's Heroes: Temple Grandin (Autism Light #38) once gave helpful advice to Dylan's mother about the importance of finding one's strength and getting a mentor for that skill.  "None of this would be happening without the support of Dylan's teacher Anna Lukezich and Dylan's para-pro Deb Jablonski," says Donna Yates.

Media: Dylan Yates and his art talent was the subject of a news article by Judy Davids that was published in the Royal Oak Patch on November 15, 2011. 

For more information on Dylan Yates' art visit his website at  Special thanks to Dylan Yates for sharing his artistic skill with the world. Dylan truly has an amazing gift. We wish him continued success in his future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The Photos in this post are used with the permission of Donna Yates.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cortland Hale

Autism Light #95 is Cortland Hale.

Cortland Hale lives in Snellville, Georgia near Atlanta.  He has autism and played football for the Brookwood High School varsity football team during the 2007-2008 seasons. Cortland Hale is an Autism Light because he excelled in high school football and also encourages other special needs children that they can one day play sports if they work hard.

He was a 6 foot 3, 270 pound starting Defensive Tackle for the Brookwood Broncos in 2007-2008. Because of his autism He did not speak until he was age 9 when he started playing football. Cortland said about his football experience, "When I started playing it just changed the way, you know, it helped me socially and just really gave me the confidence to say, I can do anything."

One of the honors he received for his playing high school football in 2008 was being named Honorable Mention for a Defensive Tackle by the Gwinnett County Touchdown Club. This website has the high school information on Cortland Hale. The following is a news story featuring Cortland Hale's story.

Boot Camps wrote a story on Cortland Hale using football and his faith to overcome his shyness that can be found at this link.  At the end of his senior year in high school he hosted a Walk for Autism in May, 2009.

Cortland Hale Today: After finishing high school Cortland Hale went on to study at Georgia Gwinnett College. He continues to be a regular speaker to diverse audiences on behalf of autism. According to his Facebook page, during the month of November, 2011 he spoke to college students at Georgia Gwinett College who are preparing to be special education teachers and also spoke to the Mountain View Football team about autism.

Social Media: You can follow Cortland Hale at the following social media.
Special thanks to Cortland Hale for being an Autism Light on behalf of all those young people with autism that need encouragement to overcome their struggles. They too may find help through sports. Anything is possible. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spotlight on ABA

Spotlight #1 is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

The area of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has its origin from the work of B.F. Skinner in the 1930's. ABA works on the principles that the environment can influence actions. A practical technique is rewards can encourage a particular behavior being repeated. ABA is an Autism Light Spotlight because of how it is making a difference in the lives of people with autism.

The following is a video featuring case studies of success in ABA treatment that was produced by The Pennsylvania Department of Education as part of the PaTTAN Autism Initiative.

Autism Speaks has an excellent article on their website of how ABA relates to autism. You can find it at

ABA therapy has been proven to be a helpful treatment for many people with autism. Behavior Consulting of Tampa Bay has an excellent online article showing research on the effectiveness of ABA at

The following Autism Lights have or are making contributions to ABA.  You can view their post by clicking on the link attached to their name.
  • Smita Awasthi is the first Board Certified Behavioral Analyst in India. She is President of Behavior Momentum in India. She was Autism Light #117.
  • Dr. Vince Carbone is a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst and is the Director of the Carbone Clinic in New York. He was Autism Light #5. 
  • Laura Cook is the President of the Pacific Autism Center which uses ABA. She is Autism Light #121.
  • Ann D. Eldridge is a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst and President and Clinical Services Director of the South Carolina Early Autism Project, Inc. She was Autism Light #72.
  • Barry and Judith Nelson are co-founders of the Victory School for Autism and Behavioral Challenges. The school uses ABA principles. They were Autism Lights #11. 
  • Special Learning, Inc. is the largest web portal for diverse ABA resources on the Internet. They were Autism Light #123. 
  • Dr. Carl Sundberg is a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst and Executive Director of the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism in Indiana. He was Autism Light #94. 
All posts with the ABA label attached can be viewed in chronological order by searching the blog based on the ABA label.

For more information on Applied Behavior Analsys visit their Wikipedia Page.

This spotlight topic was originally published on November 27, 2011. It will be updated as warranted.

This post went into syndication on Autisable

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dr. Carl Sundberg

Autism Light #94 is Dr. Carl Sundberg.

Dr. Carl Sundberg is the Executive Director/President of the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism, which has two centers in Central Indiana.  This role involves overseeing skilled ABA therapists. Dr. Carl Sundberg is an Autism Light because of his work to help more children with autism in Central Indiana receive life changing ABA therapy.

Dr. Carl Sundberg has his Ph.D and BCBA-D.  He received his doctorate degree from Western Michigan University and was mentored by Dr. Jack Michael.  Dr. Sundberg teaches B.F. Skinner's Analysis of Verbal Behavior at Ball State University and utilizes these methods in his work at teaching children with autism.

According to the BACA website,
Since 1996 Dr. Sundberg has assessed and worked with over 400 children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and has personally worked with over 200 families. In addition to private consulting Dr. Sundberg also works with school districts and has been invited to speak at conference presentations and workshops across the nation [United States]."
The following is a YouTube video of the work of the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism with an introduction by Dr. Carl Sundberg.

For more information on BACA visit their website at

Publications: Dr. Carl Sundberg has published work in two scholary journals:
Social Media:  You can follow the work of Dr. Carl Sundberg and BACA at the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Dr. Carl Sundberg for all the work he does to make ABA therapy available in Central Indiana to those impacted by autism. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post used with permission.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ed Asner

Autism Light Classic
Updated on July 16, 2014.

Autism Light #93 is Ed Asner.

Ed Asner Photo

Ed Asner PhotoEdward "Ed" Asner is an actor and television legend who lives in Los Angeles, California. He was born on November 15, 1929. Ed Asner is both a father and a grandfather of individuals with autism. Ed Asner is probably best known for his role as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Ed Asner is an Autism Light because of his advocacy on behalf of autism.

Family: Ed Asner has two generations of children with autism in his family.
  1. His son Charles Asner (b. 1987) has autism.  
  2. His grandson Will through his son Matthew Asner has autism.  
Emmy: Ed Asner won an Emmy for his famous role as Lou Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore Show. A list of all the films is on the Ed Asner IMDb page. In his career as an actor he also served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981-1985. Here is a video where Ed Asner shares memories about the cast of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Autism Advocacy: Ed Asner has been an advocate for autism. He notes that autism is a pandemic and if the numbers keep growing it will be the norm to be on the Autism Spectrum and it will be abnormal to be outside of it (Thriving With Autism Blog, 10/20/2011).

Winston School Conversation Series: Ed Asner was the keynote speaker at the Winston School Conversation Series (June, 2009). He presented on the topic “Living Life on the Spectrum: Student and Parent Perspectives on Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.”

Aspiritech: Ed Asner has served on the Board of Directors of Aspiritech, a company in Chicago that employs individuals with autism for technological testing services.

Autism Speaks Award: Ed Asner has been a longtime supporter of Autism Speaks. On July 19, 2010, Autism Speaks gave a luncheon in Los Angeles in honor of Ed Asner for all of his support over the years for Autism Speaks.

Fundraising: In November, 2012, it was announced that Ed Asner had invented a way for Autism Speaks to raise funds by getting celebrities to record personal greetings for individuals. The cost is $299 and the greetings must be PG (CBS LosAngeles, 11/21/2012, Ed Asner Invents Novel Fundraising Idea Using Celebrity Voices).

Media: Here are two parts of an interview Ed Asner did for the Faces of Autism documentary that is on YouTube.

Social Media: For more information on Ed Asner visit these social media links:
Wikipedia Page: You can read more about Ed Asner on Ed Asner's Wikipedia Page.

Special thanks to Ed Asner for being an Autism Light in the unique ways his celebrity status provides him. Ed Asner is well deserving of being the first actor to represent parents and grandparents of those with autism on Autism Light.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.
Photo: The photos used in this post is in the Public Domain. Image sources:  Ed Asner (1985)Ed Asner (2006).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Michael Collier

Autism Light #92 is Michael Collier.

Michael Collier is a junior at Fairfield Christian School in Lancaster, Ohio. Michael Collier has Aspergers and is part of Boy Scout Troop 241 in Lancaster, Ohio. He did his Eagle service project to raise money to purchase iPads for four children with autism. Michael Collier is an Autism Light because of his fundraising efforts on to purchase iPads for children with autism.

Michael Collier raised $2,900 through a July 22, 2011 charity golf scramble he put on for his Eagle Scout project. From that fundraising he was able to purchase four iPads to be given to children with autism. The recipients were Brooklyn Baker, 12, John Manley, 7, Nathan Moore, 9, and Dominick Staffey, 6. The iPad has been found to work wonders for some children with autism. On October 6, 2011 the iPad was named an Autism Light.

Michael Collier has an attitude common among true heroes. He is humble and wants to do more. Michael Collier said about his successful project: "The cynic in me wishes I could have helped more (Source)."

For more information on Michael Collier being a hero to autism read an article at the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. If you enjoyed this post you may also like the one where another Boy Scout named Nathan Christensen became an Autism Light on September 29, 2011. If you are interested in the work of the Boy Scouts of America visit their website at

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fonzie Mills

Autism Light #91 is Fonzie Mills. 

Fonzie is a dog from Racine, Wisconsin. He was trained by Vicki Pingel of Compassionate Paws to be a service dog for a boy named Ryan who has autism. Fonzie is an Autism Light because he is acting as a calming effect on seven year old Ryan Mills, who has autism.

Fonzie was injured in an attack in 2010 while undergoing training. Two of the other service dogs in training with Fonzie were killed in the attack and he was the only one to survive. Ryan's mother, Michelle Mills, says that if Fonzie was tough enough to be the only dog to survive the attacks then he is strong enough for her son. For more information on Compassionate Paws visit their website at
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Special Note: If you enjoyed this post you may like the other Autism Light posts with the label Animal

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dr. Bernard Rimland

Autism Light #90 is Dr. Bernard Rimland.

Photo of Dr. Bernard Rimland

Dr. Bernard Rimland passed away on November 21, 2006. He lived most of his life in San Diego, California. Dr. Rimland was a parent of a child with autism and was one of autism's great heroes of the 20th century. Dr. Bernard Rimland is being named an Autism Light posthumously on this the 5th anniversary of his death. He will also be the third individual to be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll.  Dr. Bernard Rimland is an Autism Light because of his contribution to autism through his prolific writing, leadership, speaking, and relentless research. He was specifically a leader in promoting the benefits of biomedical treatments for autism.

Family: Dr. Bernard Rimland was survived by his wife Gloria, and three children (Mark, Paul, and Helen Landalf). Mark Rimland is his oldest son who had one of the earliest diagnosis of early infantile autism and his condition inspired Dr. Bernard Rimland's work with autism.

Katie Burns wrote this documentary on the far reaching effects of Dr. Bernard Rimland's work, particularly as he challenged Bettelheim's theory of Refrigerator Moms causing autism and changed the approach to autism forever.

Leader of Autism Organizations:  Dr. Bernard Rimland was the founder of the Autism Society of America, and he also served as the Executive Director of the Autism Research Institute. Both of these organizations continue to play an important role in the autism community.  On September 28, 2011 Dr. Stephen M. Edelson was named an Autism Light for his work in succeeding Dr. Bernard Rimland as Executive Director of the Autism Research Institute.

Author: Dr. Bernard Rimland was a prolific writer and penned the following books.
  • Infantile Autism (1964)
  • Modern Therapies (1976)
  • Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD (1998)
  • Tired - so Tired!: And the "Yeast Connection" (2001)
  • Vaccines, Autism and Childhood Disorders (2003)
  • Treating Autism (2003) - Written with Dr. Stephen M. Edelson
  • Recovering Autistic Children (2006) Second Edition
Quote: One of Dr. Rimland's famous quotes is the following statement.  For years we have heard the experts say that autism is a lifelong disability,...This simply is not true anymore (Source).

Hollywood:  Dr. Bernard Rimland served as a consultant to the 1998 movie Rain Man.  He helped Dustin Hoffman clarify the traits of autism. See for more information on that role.

You can find out additional information on Dr. Bernard Rimland at the following websites.
Special thanks to Dr. Bernard Rimland for being an Autism Light. Your work was not in vain and its impact continues to this day by those in the autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The Photo in this post was given for this purpose by a representative of the Autism Research Institute.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

St. Peter Roman Catholic Church

Autism Light #89 is St. Peter Roman Catholic Church.

St. Peter Roman Catholic Church is located at 350 Fair Street in Warwick, Rhode Island.  The church was established in 1933 and the present pastor of the church is Rev. Roger C. Cagne. St. Peter Roman Catholic Church is an Autism Light because they have a special autism program that helps Catholic individuals with autism in Rhode Island to experience the Sacraments.

History: In the Fall of 2008, St. Peters began the program of offering Autism & the Sacraments as part of their Faith Formation offerings. The program is part of several like it in the Catholic Church, but it is the first of its kind in the state of Rhode Island. In March of 2009 an article was written by the Associated Press on this unique autism program by the church. More information on this successful and ongoing program can be found on their website at

Program:  As part of the program, children meet every two weeks to learn about their faith. To develop the program volunteers were used that come from the Catholic faith but who also have professional experience in working with autistic students outside of the church.Anyone interested in having their child enroll should call Margaret Andreozzi, who is the elementary faith formation coordinator.  Her number is 401/461-5691. There is a waiting list to get into the program.

Mass: 3 Masses (worship services) are celebrated with the families in the Autism & the Sacraments program.  These Masses have been led by the church's pastor, Rev. Roger Cagne. Some of the changes he makes to these special Masses is the hour-long liturgy is shortened to 15 minutes, by skipping music, making prayers optional, and having only a brief message. Rev. Roger Cagne said about this program, "The whole point is Jesus is totally inclusive. He directs his followers to do the same (Source)."

Social Media:  You can follow St. Peters Church on their Facebook page.

For more information on St. Peters Church visit their website at Special thanks to St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in Warwick, Rhode Island for helping those with autism to be able to participate in the Catholic religious faith.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lydia Wayman

Autism Light #88 is Lydia Wayman.

Lydia Wayman with her cat Elsie
Lydia Wayman is from Richland, Pennsylvania.  Lydia is a writer and cat lover. She also has autism. Lydia Wayman is an Autism Light because she is writing about her experiences of living as an independent adult with autism through her blog and in self-published books in order to spread awareness and understanding of autism.

Blog: Lydia Wayman's blog is called Autistic Speaks.  She is a prolific blogger and much can be learned about autism first hand through her writing. Visit her blog at  Her content on the blog includes but is not limited to updates on what is happening in her life, a window into the life and thoughts of a young adult with autism, and some original poetry. Lydia provides a priceless look at the thoughts of someone with autism and in doing so breaks down several stereotypes people normally have about individuals with autism. Her most recent posts have included a discussion of her physical health (unrelated to autism) and her Christian religious faith. The theme of her blog is:

Not despite autism but because of it.

Author: Lydia Wayman has written two self-published books that are available for purchase on LuLu, which will help people understand autism from someone with autism.
  1. Living in Technicolor: An Autistics Thoughts on-Raising a Child with Autism
  2. Interview With Autism
The proceeds from the sale of these books is being used to bring Lydia's service dog home.

Social Media: You can follow Lydia Wayman (Autistic Speaks) at the following social media areas.
Heart of Autism: On July 18, 2013, Lydia Wayman was featured in the Heart of Autism series by Autism Speaks

You can find a listing of different press articles written about this remarkable Autism Light at  Lydia has also acquired the URL of and eventually one will be able to find her information there.

Special thanks to Lydia Wayman for sharing her joys and sorrows; victories and setbacks; and feelings and knowledge with the world. Lydia is truly an amazing individual who can teach the world a lot about autism, if we will only listen.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The Photo in this post is used with the permission of Lydia Wayman.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Autism Light #87 is Allstate.

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the United States' largest publicly held personal lines insurance company with headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois. They are known for their slogan, "You're in Good Hands with All State".  This year they celebrate their 80th anniversary as a corporation.  Allstate is an Autism Light because of a fundraising program called "Quotes for Autism Speaks".

How the program works: Allstate will donate $10 to Autism Speaks for every quote they give for insurance between Nov. 14 and December 14, 2011. No purchase is necessary. People just need to get a quote to help Autism Speaks. Quotes may be obtained by calling 1-866-998-4488 or a form filled out online at  Allstate has a goal of donating $500,000 to Autism Speaks from this program.

Here is a video announcing the "Quotes for Autism Speaks" program. It features Mark LaNeve, an Allstate Executive, who is the father of twin boys with autism.

Social Media:  You can follow Allstate at the following social media areas.
For more information on the Allstate corporation visit their website at

Special thanks to the Allstate Corporation for this contribution to Autism Speaks.

Note: Autism Light is a neutral blog and we have no relationship to the business featured in this post nor have we received any return of goods or services for writing this post.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doug and Laurie Flutie

Autism Lights #86 are Doug and Laurie Flutie.

Doug Flutie, Sr. and Laurie Flutie are from Natick, Massachusetts. Doug is a former professional football player in both the United States and Canada. Their son Doug Flutie, Jr. has autism. Doug Flutie, Sr. and Laurie Flutie are Autism Lights because they formed an autism foundation to help make a difference for autism, which is called the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation.

Football Career: Doug Flutie played for Boston College and won the Heisman Trophy in 1984. Professionally he played in the CFL, USFL, and NFL from 1985-2005. His career stats are at this link .

Honorary Degree:  Doug Flutie, Sr. received the Honorary Doctor of Humanitarian Service for Autism in 2007 from Dickinson College. Here is a video of that ceremony.

Foundation: In 2000, Doug Flutie, Sr. and his wife Laurie formed the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation in honor of their son who has autism. In forming the foundation, the Fluties wanted to help their son have a legacy that he might not be able to accomplish on his own and to help less fortunate families with the tremendous expenses of autism.  Information on the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation is available at their website at  This foundation is making a tremendous impact for autism.

  • To date over $11 million dollars has been raised by the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation.
  • A list of 2010 grant recipients from the foundation is available at this link.  
  • In 2011 the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation joined HP and Autism Speaks in sponsoring the Hacking Autism initiative.

Here is a video of Doug Flutie, Sr. discussing his autism foundation in 2010.

Laurie Flutie:  Laurie Flutie is an amazing caregiver.  In addition to being Vice-President and co-founder of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation she is the primary caregiver for Doug Flutie, Jr. and she also cares for her mother who lives with the family.

Author: In 1999, Doug Flutie wrote two books that are available through
  1. Flutie
  2. Never Say Never (Positively for Kids)
Social Media: You can follow Doug Flutie, Sr. and the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation on the following social media.
Special thanks to Doug and Laurie Flutie for being Autism Lights. Your hard work on behalf of autism is certainly helping lighten the load of many families and is a legacy for your son.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The Photo at the top of this post is used with the permission of Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation and was taken at the 2007 golf outing of Doug and Laurie Flutie and their family.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Autism Light #85 is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a television series that has aired on ABC for eight seasons.  It had it's official premier on February 14, 2004 and the series finale was on January 13, 2012. ABC TV has headquarters in Burbank, California. The show has been hosted by Ty Pennington who is a television personality and a former carpenter himself.  Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is an Autism Light because families with autism have been some of the recipients of the home makeovers.

Here are some stories of how Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has helped four families who have children with autism.

McPhail Family Extreme Makeover: C.J. and Lindsay McPhail of Medford, Oregon have 2 children with autism. They  received a home makeover from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in an episode airing on October 28, 2011.  A recap of this episode is available at this link.  The following is the YouTube video of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team on their bus ride preparing to help the McPhail family and learning about their situation.  It also includes a view of their home and situation before the makeover.

After the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was finished with the McPhail home this is what it looked like.

Lucas Family Extreme Makeover:  Michael and Jean Lucas of Cullen, Virginia have two children with autism. They received a home makeover from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in an episode airing on March 2, 2008.  A recap of this episode is available at this link.

Ray-Smith Family Extreme Makeover: Brittany Ray and Ron Smith have one child with autism and doctors are concerned that their second son also has autism. They received a home makeover from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in an episode airing on January 3, 2008.   A recap of that episode is available at this link.

O'Donnell Family Extreme Makeover:  Patrick and Jeanette O'Donnell of Austin, Texas have five children with autism. They received a home makeover from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in an episode airing on February 18, 2007.  Jeanette O'Donnell was named an Autism Light herself on October 3, 2011 for being an exceptional autism mother. A recap of that episode is available at this link.

Social Media: You may follow Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on the following social media areas.
For more information on today's Autism Light visit these websites. 
This is the first time a television show has been designated an Autism Light.  It is a tribute to the decision to change the life of some very special families that are coping with autism.  If you are interested in applying or nominating a needy family for a home makeover fill out the online application.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

This Autism Light post went into syndication at Autisable.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

First Baptist Church of Plano

Autism Light #84 is the First Baptist Church of Plano. 

The First Baptist Church of Plano is located at 1300 East 15th Street in Plano, Texas.  The church was started in 1872. Dr. Jerry Carlisle has served as the pastor of the church since 2002. The First Baptist Church of Plano is an Autism Light because one of their ministries is an Autism Book Club.

The Autism Book Club is one of the small group ministries of the First Baptist Church of Plano. Their website provides this introduction to the Autism Book Club.
Learning to cope with a diagnosis and treatment options for children with autism is a daunting process. Every journey in our life has a purpose, and even in the tough times there is so much God can teach us. We can enjoy our children and our role as parents as we learn to help our children conquer their challenges and celebrate their strengths and accomplishments. The purpose of this group is to find the hope, healing, and learning that comes through faith and trust in God. Our focus will be to find the inspiration that we receive when looking at and sharing the scriptures, and encouraging one another through the challenges of being parents and caregivers of special needs children (First Baptist Church of Plano Website).
The Autism Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30pm at the First Baptist Church of Plano and is led by Rose Henke.  The following are some of the books they are studying between August, 2011 and August, 2012:
  • Raindrops on Roman
  • Life Without Limits
  • Autism's Hidden Blessings
  • Joni: An Unforgettable Story
  • A Friend Like Henry
  • Life Interrupted: Navigating the Unexpected
The format for the Autism Book Club is they discuss the above books every other month and on the other months they are going through Max Lucado's Life Lesson Series.  On August 10, 2011 the group also had the special opportunity to meet Bobbi Sheahan and Dr. Kathy DeOrnellas discuss their book What I Wish I'd Known About Raising a Child with Autism.  For more information on this program visit

For more information about the First Baptist Church of Plano visit their website at  The First Baptist Church of Plano's Facebook page is another source of ongoing information via social media.

Special thanks to the First Baptist Church of Plano for sponsoring an Autism Book Club that can be a spiritual inspiration for those people impacted by the autism of a loved one.  Perhaps this program can serve as an idea for other churches as well as other types of groups to consider undertaking on behalf of autism support and awareness.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Linda Welby

Autism Light #83 is Linda Welby. 

Linda Welby resides in Galway-Ireland.  Linda Welby is also a songwriter and musician. Linda Welby is an Autism Light because of the special autism song she wrote called, "Through You I'll Find My Way". 

Linda Lander Murphy described Linda Welby like this, "Linda Welby is raising eight children, manages holiday cottages, and runs bus tours in her native Connemara (she's a licensed bus driver!). But don't hate her because she's beautiful and makes the Energizer Bunny look like a shirker (Source)."

Below is the YouTube version of Linda Welby's song "Through You I'll Find My Way" which tells the story of a child with autism. You may order this song at her Website or through CDBaby.  The entire lyrics to the song are also found at Reverbnation.

Linda Welby's success and personality is described like this on her website:
To radio listeners across the country as well as her legions of new fans, Linda Welby is fast becoming a superstar while at home in Roscahil she has never changed from being the down-to-earth affable and hardworking wife and mother. She has achieved the longest run by any artist of twenty two continuous weeks, as well as remaining at number one for eighteen weeks, in a major radio station record charts where listener requests dictate the content of the charts (Source).
Linda Welby wrote "Through You I'll Find My Way" on March 10, 2010 in order to aid Autism Ireland (Irish Autism Action).  From an email I received from Linda Welby, I learned that the song came about because the west of Ireland Autism Association asked her in 2010 to write a song for their annual climb of St. Patrick's holy mountain in Ireland called the Reek Mountain.  The Autism Association had asked Linda to write about the mountain but she decided to write about the subject of autism from her heart. Linda Welby wrote this to me about how she researched autism in order to write her original song.
As I knew people with autistic children I researched those children and what their parents thought differently about them. I researched poetry written by autistic people and learnt the scientific side of it too. I then decided that my song was to be based through the eyes of an autistic person and how they feel about the world, the way the world perceives them, how they try so hard to express themselves and people around them see this as aggressive. They like routine to make them feel safe. 
When she launched this song in 2010, Linda Welby actually climbed the Reek Mountain 7 times in 6 days and did a performance of her song on St. Patricks Day in Belfast, Ireland.

Social Media:  You can follow Linda Welby on the following social media areas.
For more information on Linda Welby visit her website at

Special thanks to Linda Welby for sharing with the world the song "Through You I'll Find My Way" and supporting Autism Ireland. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The Photo in this post is used with the permission of Linda Welby.

Friday, November 11, 2011

ACT Today! For Military Families

Autism Light #82 is ACT Today! For Military Families.

Today is Veteran's Day in the United States and in honor of military veterans today's Autism Light is a charitable organization that helps military families cope with autism. ACT Today! For Military Families is based in Tarzana, California.  It is a special campaign of ACT Today (Autism Care and Treatment Today), which was founded in 2005.  Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson has served as the Executive Director of ACT Today for the past 3 years. ACT Today! For Military Families is an Autism Light because of the difference their grants are making for military families that are dealing with autism.

1 in 88 children from military families in the United States have autism. This is 12% higher than the national average (1 in 100).  The following is a video about the work of ACT Today! For Military Families that features the campaign's theme song, "Maybe Tomorrow" by Robbin Thompson.

Below is an inspirational video that shares the real life stories of three of the families that have been touched positively by the support from today's Autism Light, ACT Today! For Military Families.

Contact: To contact ACT Today! For Military Families you can call 877-9ACT-TODAY or email

Donate: You can donate directly to ACT Today! For Military Families through their online system at

Events:  On April 7, 2012 ACT Today! For Military Families will hold their 2nd Annual Walk/Run and Family Festival in San Diego, California.

Social Media:  You may follow ACT Today! For Military Families through the ACT Today social media areas.
For more information on ACT Today! For Military Families visit their website at  Military families may apply for an autism grant at this link.

As a parent of a child with autism I know the pressures are tremendous, but I can not imagine the added stress that our military families go through with having to adjust to frequent relocation (and changes of service providers for their autistic children) and the separation of one of the parents from the family because of deployment overseas.  On this Veterans Day we say thank you to our military families. And thank you to ACT Today! For Military Families for being an Autism Light to these well deserving and needy military families.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Timothy Welsh

Autism Light Classic
Updated on April 10, 2012. 

Autism Light #81 is Timothy Welsh.

Tim Welsh Works With His Son Tanner
Timothy Welsh is from Catlin, Illinois. His teenage son Tanner has autism. Timothy Welsh has survived two heart attacks and today thrives as an autism parent advocate and co-founder and Executive Director of the new organization called AutismAid. Timothy Welsh is an Autism Light because of his influential advocacy for the needs of families dealing with autism. His outreach on social media and expertise in diverse subjects impacting autism families helps him share light on autism to the world on a regular basis. Timothy Welsh himself has high functioning Aspergers.

Twitter:  Timothy Welsh's handle on Twitter is @TannersDad.  He chose the handle in honor of his son Tanner who has autism. The last words Timothy Welsh remembers Tanner saying before he withdrew into the nonverbal world of autism were, "My name is Tanner!  My name is Tanner!" At the time this story was updated Timothy Welsh had posted 72,500 tweets on Twitter. A Few days after this post was originally published he passed 10,000 followers on Twitter. The following YouTube video is a 45 minute interview that David Kaufer did with Timothy Welsh for his YouTube series called "Behind the Tweets". It is a very helpful interview to understand today's autism light.

Autism Aid: Tim continues his mission to build unity in the community #UWAC, provide a base line safety net for families and end discrimination. In partnership with Successful BusinessMan Lawrence "Larry" Goldfarb (Father of a 14 year old with Autism), they are proud to introduce AutismAid. They will be working with Corporations to fund critical need projects in the Autism community through the most effective and efficient service orientated regional non profits. Their goal is to lead by example ending politics, returning the most to communities for direct local service and Paying it forward. Tim says it is very important that families, friends, and relatives stand up and be counted. He asks that we encourage everyone go to the facebook page and like share and nominate your Local Service provider for grants. The website for Autism Aid is, and Facebook page is www.facebook/AutismAid. For more information on AutismAid contact Tim Welsh at the email of Timothy Welsh was interviewed by Craig Evans of Autism Hangout about his new role as Executive Director of Autism Aid.  Craig Evans was Autism Light #178.  Here is the video of that interview.
Generation Rescue: Timothy Welsh is a blogger for Generation Rescue. One of his blog posts for Generation Rescue that tells more about his story was called "An Ordinary Family".  Timothy Welsh is also a "Rescue Angel" for Generation Rescue which is the designation for a family that has seen an improvement in the life of someone with autism due to biomedical intervention.  Part of Timothy Welsh's biomedical plan for his son Tanner includes a gluten and casein free diet, vitamins, and the use of Methyl B12 cream.
Board of Directors: Timothy Welsh serves on the Board of Directors of the following important Autism organizations.
  • Autism Society of Illinois: Timothy Welsh is on the borad of directors of the Autism Society of Illinois. This is one of the most respected state chapters of the National Autism Society of America organization.
  • Mason Allen Medlam Foundation: Timothy Welsh serves on the board of directors of the Mason Allen Medlam Foundation.  Safety for those with autism is one of Timothy Welsh's passions.
Social Media: You can connect with Timothy Welsh at the following social media areas. He is likely to interact with you if you engage him in conversation. Speaker: Timothy Welsh also is a conference speaker.  One of his sessions at a past Autism One conference is available at this link
Special thanks for Timothy Welsh for being an Autism Light and being tireless in advocacy for autism.  Timothy Welsh is truly an example of how one parent can make a difference for autism through the world of social media.  
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.  
Photos: The Photos in this post are used with the permission of Timothy Welsh.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Colgate Women's Hockey Team and Coach Scott Wiley

Autism Light Classic
Updated on January 28, 2012.

Autism Light #80 is the Colgate University Women's Hockey Team and Coach Scott Wiley.

Photo © Bob Cornell (Image Source)
Colgate University is located in Hamilton, New York. It is an independent university founded in 1819.  The Women's Hockey Team at Colgate University led by Coach Scott Wiley is an exceptional example of how a university athletic team can spread autism awareness. They are Autism Lights because of their autism awareness campaign which is in its second year of spreading light about autism to the public and helping autism charities in the New York area. 

According to the Colgate University website, "Colgate today is a highly selective, independent, coeducational liberal arts college, enrolling approximately 2,800 undergraduates in programs that lead to the bachelor of arts." Women's Hockey is one of their 25 intercollegiate athletic programs. The Women's Ice Hockey program started with the 1997-1998 season and has been in Division I since the 2001-2002 season.

Coach Scott Wiley: "We are really excited to kick off our 2012 Autism Awareness Project and are hoping to build on the success we had in 2011", said Scott Wiley (Source) Scott Wiley is in his 10th season as the coach of the Colgate Women's Ice Hockey Team. His 127 career wins are the most in program history. For more information on his coaching career visit his page at the athletic department website of Colgate University. Scott Wiley can be found on Facebook as well. 

Kati Williams: The manager of the team is Kati Williams, a teenager who has Asperger's Syndrome. Kati Williams' enthusiasm was the inspiration for the team's decision to take up the cause of autism awareness. An article on Kati Williams was written for the Evening Sun.
Second Autism Awareness Game: On February 3, 2012 the 2nd Autism Awareness Game will be held in a game at Starr Rink against Union. Ticket information is available at this link. This year the team's uniforms for the game were designed by Christian Mast, who was Autism Light #26Autism SpeaksViewSonic, and Goals for Good will be partners in this autism campaign This year's goal is to raise $30,000 and the beneficiaries of funds will be Autism Speaks of Central New York, the Family Resource Network, The Kelberman Center, The OZ Project, and the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA).  A press release on this initiative was released by Colgate University at this link. This project is also mentioned in the Madison County Courier.

First Autism Awareness Game: On January 28, 2011 they began their campaign for autism awareness with a special game for autism awareness that included special uniforms with autism puzzle pieces on them and a blue light at their net that lights up for autism whenever a goal is scored. They also did other initiatives like lighting the chapel up blue on April 1.  The project raised $18,000. More information on that past initiative can be found in the following media.

Syracuse Crunch: On December 3, 2011, the team was honored at a Syracuse Crunch game for their autism work.

The main website for the Colgate Women's Hockey Team's ongoing autism awareness initiative is found at this autism website To follow the Colgate Women's Hockey Team's success on the ice visit their official athletic websiteThe team also has a page on Wikipedia.

Social Media: To follow the Colgate Women's Hockey Team on social media visit these areas.
Special thanks to the Colgate Women's Hockey Team and Coach Scott Wiley. We wish the Colgate Women's Hockey Team great success on the court and in life. Their off the court efforts for autism awareness are a fantastic light for autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

  • Special thanks to Erin Mast for nominating the Colgate Women's Hockey Team as Autism Lights and helping inspire the original November 4, 2011 post on this Autism Light. Erin's son Christian Mast was an Autism Light on September 2, 2011.  To nominate an autism light email your story to
  • The Madison County Journal wrote an article on the Autism Light blog after the original post.
  • Photo: The photo in this post is used with permission and is © Bob Cornell.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Autism Light #79 is HP.

HP is a corporation with headquarters in Cupertino, California.  Some people still refer to them as Hewlett Packard, which represents the name of the founders and provided the words for the acronym HP. HP is an Autism Light because they hosted a Hackathon and are a critical sponsor of the Hacking Autism initiative that is collecting ideas to help people with autism use touch screen technology in new and innovative ways.

Hewlett-Packard along with Autism Speaks and the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation are sponsors of the initiative called Hacking Autism. Hacking Autism is set up to encourage ideas for new applications that will help people with autism use touch screen computers, tablets such as the iPad, or various smart phones. On October 11, 2011, Hacking Autism held a Hackathon at Hewlett-Packard's campus. 429 application ideas have been submitted already.  Jim St. Leger who was an Autism Light on Oct. 17, 2011 was at this event and recommended an application. Below is a video providing an introduction to the Hackathon.    

The San Jose Mercury News published an article on HP's valuable involvement in Hacking Autism on October 11, 2011.
Phil McKinney (an HP Executive) said volunteers were free to build on any software platform, including rival Apple's iOS and Google's Android.  McKinney said, "Today is about making technology that gives a voice, and the ability to participate" (Source).
Special thanks to HP for their key role in Hacking Autism and the recent Hackathon. Phil McKinney of HP indicates that volunteers are going to be refining the ideas brought forth at Hacking Autism and then they will be made available free to the public over the Internet. We hope this exchange of ideas on how to improve technology for those with autism will continue to be an ongoing initiative.

While HP has discontinued their production of a tablet, they still make the popular TouchSmart PC. The Hope Technology School has successfully used the TouchSmart PC to reach their students. An article about the Hope Technology School's use of HP products to increase accessibility for children with autism is available at

HP also is a corporate donor for the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism. They have donated 115 computers in recent years to the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism and sold additional ones at their cost to the foundation.

Social Media:  You can follow HP on the following social media areas:
For more information visit the HP website at or the Hacking Autism website at

Note: Autism Light is a neutral blog and we have no relationship to the business featured in this post nor have we received any return of goods or services for writing this post.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.