Thursday, June 20, 2013

Enrico Micheli

Autism Light #283 is Enrico Micheli.

Enrico Micheli was a prominent autism expert in Italy. He died in a mountaineering accident on July 3, 2008 at the age of 58. Enrico Micheli is an Autism Light for the difference he made to advocate and provide intervention for autism in Italy. Enrico Micheli will be added today to the Autism Light Memorial Roll.

Information on Enrico Micheli along with a photo of him can be found on page 112 of Adam Feinstein's book A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers (Source).

Adam Feinstein wrote an obituary on Enrico Micheli after his untimely death that appeared in Volume 4, Number 12 2008/2009 in the Looking Up (The Monthly International Autism Newsletter) and he has given permission for it be reprinted here. It is very helpful in giving a picture of the tremendous influence Enrico Micheli had on autism in Italy.
ONE OF Italy’s leading autism experts, Enrico Micheli, has died in a tragic mountaineering accident at the age of 58, leaving friends, family and colleagues stunned with shock. He was killed on July 3, 2008. 
Micheli, who had been working with autistic individuals since 1970, was one of the first people in Italy to insist that autism was organic in aetiology and to introduce TEACCH into Italy. 
From 1983 to 2000, he was based at the San Paolo-Universit√† in Milan, where his approach was primarily cognitive-behavioural. 
He was a founder of the Committee for Correct Information on Autism and he took part with parents in Lombardy in the movement for the regional autism project. He was also on the board of the Osservatorio Regionale Autismo (Regional Autism Observatory). 
Together with his colleagues in Milan, and with his wife,  Cesarina Xaiz, from whom he was inseparable, Micheli  drew up a model of assessment and intervention for individuals with special needs, which was presented to Division TEACCH in North Carolina in 1998. 
Among his books was Gioco e interazione sociale nell’autismo (Play and Social Interaction in Autism), which introduced many ideas to help the development of interaction in autistic children. 
His last work, editorially speaking, was Verso l'autonomia (Towards Autonomy),  a kind of manual aimed at children, adolescents and adults with disabilities which prevent them from actively understanding the world and the rules which govern it - especially individuals with autism and mental retardation. 
For Micheli, the role of families was crucial. He believed they must play a concrete and active role in the education of their children. 
Moreover, Micheli was a great believer in the role of the school, which he felt could represent a place of learning and development, provided that the teachers were properly trained. 
A charismatic and indefatigable figure, Micheli saw autism as a challenge which drove him all over the world in search of anything that might prove useful to Italian children. 
A huge debt is owed to Micheli who brought  a behavioural model back from the United States to Italy, where for decades there was tremendous ignorance about autism. His work led to a debate about the anachronistic psychodynamic training which was still the norm in Italy at that time - and which blamed the parents for their child’s autism - and many of his colleagues followed him down the correct path. 
Micheli’s life was characterised by his struggle against a health system which was not always open to his innovations. Despite the difficulties he encountered, he never once lost hope that he could knock down the wall of preconceptions behind which his adored autistic children were living. 
Micheli  declared in an interview in 2005: “Sincerely, I believe that we have taken important steps forward, especially in terms of living conditions and in the ability ... to deal with the problems facing families - parents and siblings alike. Today, parents discover their child’s problems earlier, they find out that he or she has developmental difficulties on the autistic spectrum earlier and so they know what to do to help the child. And they also discover earlier that there’s a chance they won’t  be alone with their problems. And that’s no small thing.” 
He always emphasised the importance of his encounter with English and American writings on autism. “I’ve had the great good luck to begin working directly with the children and to study psychology and psychiatry while I was working with them. My encounter with English and American literature on autism, and with the psychology of behaviour and development,  which I learned directly from teachers like Elizabeth Newson, Eric Schopler and Gerry Patterson ... all this changed the way of thinking about autism, developmental disorders and child psychiatry in our country. 
“What I learned I put into books, articles and above all in the training of colleagues, teachers, parents and work with hundreds of children and families. I am proud of my ability to build my knowledge of a child not only on tests or conversations but also on the interchange with dads and mums, and to be able to explain the nature of the child’s difficulties and the possibilities of improvement in a way that the parents can understand. 
“Knowledge is the first step on the path to health and well-being.” 
(Obituary Written By Adam Feinstein, Source).
Publications: Enrico Micheli authored some important autism articles for the International Journal of Mental Health that can still be read online today.

Enrico Micheli's autism work had a tremendous influence on the autism community in Italy.  It is fitting that he is the first Autism Light from Italy. May his dedication and diligence to the cause of autism in Italy be an example to those left behind.

Special thanks to Adam Feinstein for his historical information on Enrico Micheli's autism work that was essential to helping this Autism Light post be as detailed as possible on this Autism Hero in Italy.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Autumn Moser

Autism Light #282 is Autumn Moser.

Autumn Moser is a 9 year old Golden Retriever from Ellsworth, Wisconsin. She is owned by Jason and Melissa Moser. In July, 2012, when Autumn was 8 years old, she was instrumental in finding a missing boy named Scotty (Scott) who has autism. Autumn Moser is an Autism Light because she was able to find a missing boy with autism even though she had no special search and rescue training. Autumn is the third Golden Retriever to be featured at Autism Light. Others included Jim and Nuala Gardner of Scotland who had a Golden Retriever named Henry and Sophie Perlzwig, a Golden Retriever in New York.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 3, 2012, a little boy named Scott Meyer went missing from his Pierce County, Minnesota home. Scott Meyer was 5 years old at that time and is nonverbal because of his autism. The community searched for 20 hours to find the boy and were concerned because of the hot weather at the time. Jason Moser had his Golden Retriever Autumn come with him as he searched for Scott. At about 8am on July 4, 2012, Autumn led his owner Jason to an area hidden under a tree near a small slope where they found Scott Meyer about a half a mile from his home but near a dangerous body of water (Source).

The following is a news story on the rescue of Scott Meyer by Autumn and her owner Jason Moser.

The Two Little Cavaliers blog praised Autumn's efforts in this way.
After 20 hours of the community searching for the lost little boy it was an 8 year old Golden Retriever with no special search and rescue or other service dog training that eventually helped to find the little boy. A dog that was almost left home because of the heat and no special training. Jason Moser who is Autumn the Golden Retriever’s owner said he decided to bring her in the end because she loves kids and loves giving them kisses (Source).  

Read more information on Autumn finding Scott Meyer at the following blogs and news websites.
Special thanks to Autumn and all the talented and loving dogs who are making a difference around the world for autism. If you liked this post you may like to read about other Autism Lights with the label "Animal".

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Arthur Fleischmann

Autism Light #281 is Arthur Fleischmann.

In honor of Father's Day 2013, we wanted to honor a very special autism father who is the co-author of the book Carly's Voice, which tells the inspirational story of his nonverbal daughter.  Arthur Fleischmann is partner and president of john st advertising and lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Tammy Starr and their children Matthew, Taryn, and Carly. His daughter, Carly Fleischmann, was the first Autism Light and the inspiration for the start of the Autism Light blog. Arthur Fleischmann is an Autism Light because of his dedication as an autism father, and his autism advocacy through speaking and writing about Carly's breakthrough in communication.

Education: Arthur Fleischmann received his B.A. in English Literature and Economics from Brandeis University. He earned an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University (Source).

The following is a video where Arthur Fleischmann explains about Telling Carly's Story.

Carly's Voice: Arthur Fleishchmann co-authored the book Carly's Voice. Carly wrote the last chapter of the book and Arthur wrote the rest of the manuscript. It was published in April, 2012. Carly's Voice has been translated into 6 languages and may be ordered from Simon & Schuster and you can read excerpts at Carly's website at

Arthur Fleischmann said about his journey in the early years as an autism father: "If we had done what so many people told us to do years ago, we wouldn't have the child we have today. We would have written her off. We would have assumed the worst. We would have never seen how she could write these things —how articulate she is, how intelligent she is (Source)."

John st. advertising: Arthur Fleischmann is president and partner with the john st. advertising firm, a top advertising agency in Toronto, Canada. His staff page at john st. says:
His career included stints in sales (Xerox) and marketing (Kraft/General Foods), before deciding on a life in advertising. In starting john st. in 2001, his goal was to create a “creative collaborative” without the silos or bureaucracy or territorialism he’d seen in his previous lives. He believes creativity is a powerful business tool and has led his team to win more advertising effectiveness awards than any other agency in the last decade (Source).

Lavin Agency Speaker's Bureau: Arthur Fleischmann is a speaker through the Lavin Agency Speaker's Bureau. You can read his speaker's page at the Lavin Agency.

Autism Live: The following is a video where Arthur Fleischmann was featured on the "Let's Talk Autism" segment of Autism Live on June 20, 2012.

Social Media: You can follow Arthur Fleischmann on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Arthur Fleischmann for being an autism light. His dedication to his daughter Carly and to telling her story is promoting autism awareness around the world. Happy Father's Day to all the autism fathers working hard to make the best possible life for their children. If you wish to read about other autism fathers featured over the years at Autism Light search with the label Fathers.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photo in this post is used with permission of Arthur Fleischmann.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rebecca Mullican

Autism Light #280 is Dr. Rebecca Mullican.

Dr. Rebecca Mullican
Dr. Rebecca Mullican is a professor in Special Education, and a professional presenter and researcher on the subject of autism.  Dr. Mullican resides in the greater Jackson, Mississippi area with her husband Bryce. In 2012 she founded the Jackson Autism Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Rebecca Mullican is an Autism Light because of the impact her diverse autism work is having to improve the lives of those with autism and to inspire and teach those who will one day work with those with autism.

Education: Dr. Rebecca Mullican earned her PhD. in Special Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She wrote her dissertation on the subject of "Family Experiences and Children with Autism who use Speech Generating Devices."

Philosophy: Dr. Rebecca Mullican's approach to the education of those with autism is that "there is no one treatment or therapy method that works for all individuals on the autism spectrum. As a professional in the field of autism, it is important to be exposed to many therapies and treatments so that you can make an informed decision regarding each child or individual you work with. What works for one may not work for another (Source: Email from Rebecca Mulllican to Autism Light on 5/30/2013)."

Professor: Since the Fall of 2012, Rebecca Mullican has served as a Visiting Professor in Special Education at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Jackson Autism Center: Dr. Rebecca Mullican founded the Jackson Autism Center in 2012. It was a transition that brought her full circle from teaching to operating an intervention center. The Jackson Autism Center says, "Dr. Rebecca Mullican has a passion for providing intervention services to children with disabilities. Rebecca left the classroom and founded Jackson Autism Center to make a greater impact for kids with disabilities, families, and the community. She believes that each child needs a program built around how he or she learns; there is not a one-size-fits-all (Source)."

The following news story features Dr. Rebecca Mullican sharing about her work at the Jackson Autism Center on Autism Awareness Month.

For more information on the Jackson Autism Center visit their website at

Diverse Methods:  Dr. Rebecca Mullican has been trained in diverse approaches to autism treatment. "Her trainings range from ABA and verbal behavior to SCERTS, social stories, augmentative and alternative communication, and LAMP. She also has years of experience with behavior challenges and positive behavior support (Source)."

Conference Speaker: Dr. Rebecca Mullican has been a presenter at several autism or disability related national conferences. The conferences she has spoken at includes the ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association), TASH, and Autism Society of America.  

Publications: An article by Dr. Rebecca Mullican called "Building Communication Skills Through Speech Generating Devices" appeared on pages 6-7 of the June/July, 2013 issue of The Autism Notebook - South Florida.

Hobbies: Dr. Rebecca Mullican enjoys movies, traveling, photography, scrapbooking, and spending time with family when she has time. She also has a dog named Samson and a cat named Toby (Source).

Social Media: You can follow the work of Dr. Rebecca Mullican at the Jackson Autism Center on the following social media areas.

Special thanks to Dr. Rebecca Mullican for making a difference for autism in both her national influence as well as her day to day work at the Jackson Autism Center in Mississippi. The autism community in Mississippi is fortunate that Dr. Rebecca Mullican is shining her light for autism. You may find out more about Dr. Rebecca Mullican by reading her online resume. This post will be linked today on the Mississippi Lights post at Autism Light. You can find out more in that post on all the Autism Lights from the state of Mississippi.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photo in this post was used with permission of Dr. Rebecca Mullican.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Autism Lights on Wikipedia

The following Autism Lights have their own Wikipedia pages that you can visit and interact with. Simply click through the link to get to their page on Wikipedia. It would great to have a Wikipedia like website for all people connected to the autism story. Click on this link for a post on that dream.

David Amaral
Applied Behavior Analysis (Spotlight)
Edward Asner
Hans Asperger

Boston Red Sox
Susan Boyle
Toni Braxton
Dan Burton
George W. Bush

Jim Calhoun
Brian Calley
Carolina Panthers
Will Clark
Gary Cole
Colgate Women's Ice Hockey

Byron Dafoe
James Durbin

Ernie Els
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Doug Flutie
Jeff Francoeur

James Gandolfini
Michael Gibbons
Eddie Guardado

Daryl Hannah
Naoki Higashida
Tommy Hilfiger
James Hobley


Matt Kemp
Anna Kennedy
Olaf Kolzig
Cliff Kresge

Stan Lee
Ted Linsdsay

Bernard Marcus
Dan Marino
Roy McDonald
Jason McElwain
Jamie McMurray
Scott Mellanby
Robert Menendez

Lloyd Nolan
Moe Norman

Olga's Kitchen

Jim Palmer
Derek Paravicini
Clara Clairborne Park
Holly Robinson Peete
Rodney Peete
Philadelphia 76ers
Alex Plank
Pope Francis
Jim Price

Dave Rice
Bernard Rimland

Teddi Siddall
Chris Smith
Jordan Spieth
Sylvester Stallone
Darryl Strawberry

Robbin Thompson
Toys "R" Us
Joey Travolta
Josh Turner

Valley Fair
Jaci Velasquez

Reggie Walton
Jim Watkins
Richard Wawro
White Castle
Stephen Wiltshire
Kate Winslet
Bob Wright