Saturday, May 31, 2014

Michala Riggle

Autism Light #345 is Michala Riggle. 

Michala Riggle is a 17 year old from Louisville, Kentucky. Her younger brother Evan has autism. After seeing Evan benefit from receiving IV infusions of an amino acid called Glutathione at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, she started Beading to Beat Autism in order to raise funds for a study including 50 other children with autism. Michala Riggle is an Autism Light because of her amazing ability to raise money for autism research in honor of her brother Evan.

Michala and her borther Evan
National Media: The following are video clips from when Michala appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres show and Good Morning America in 2011 to share about her autism fundraising.

Fundraising Initiatives:  Michala Riggle created Beading to Beat Autism in order to raise funds for autism research at Kosair Children's Hospital in Lousiville, Kentucky. Michala started fundraising in 2007 at age 10 and in 5 years she raised over half a million dollars for autism research, more than doubling her goal of $200,000 (, August 13, 2012).

Michala Riggle Beat Autism Foundation: Michala has created a private 501c3 foundation called The Michala Riggle Beat Autism Foundation, Inc. According to her Facebook page her goal is to "build the most comprehensive, autism research and treatment center in the world and eradicate autism forever (Facebook Page of Beading to Beat Autism)!"

The following is the fundraising video that Michala Riggle has on her website in her current project called CAMPAIGN 7 that has a goal to raise $300 million in funds to build an autism research and treatment center in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Motto: Michala's response when people doubt that she can raise the amount of money she has for her goal is, "If you go into a game thinking you're gonna lose, it's game over-you've lost-YOU GOTTA BELIEVE!!! (Michala Riggle as quoted on Beading to Beat Autism Website)."

Awards/Honors: Michala has received the following awards and honors according to the Facebook Page of Beading to Beat Autism.  These are just a few that have been received.
  1. "Kentuckian of the Year" by Kentucky Monthly Magazine (2008)
  2. Build-A-Bear Huggable Hero (2008)
  3. Kohl's Kid Who Cares Regional Winner
  4. Youth in Philanthropy Award by Kosair Children's Hospital Foundation
  5. Chosen as a child hero in The My Hero Project (Young Heroes) (2011)
Social Media: You can follow Michala Riggle's efforts on the following social media areas.
Make a Donation: Visit Michala's website at for information on how to donate to her foundation.

Special thanks to Michala Riggle for the tremendous amount of fundraising she has done through Beading to Beat Autism. She is commended for having the courage and the tenacity to undertake a big goal to create a center for autism research in Louisville. We are believing with Michala that she will reach her goal. Autism Light looks forward to hearing exciting news of Michala's accomplishments in the years ahead.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photos: The photos in this post are used with permission of Emlyn Riggle.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kentucky Lights

The State of Kentucky is the home state of 4 Autism Lights. Kentucky Autism Lights include two individuals with autism and two autism siblings.

 Kentucky Autism Lights

Individuals with Autism:
  1. Trent Altman has autism and is an artist who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
  2. Conner Musk has autism and is from Erlanger, Kentucky. He saved the life of another child in July, 2011.

  1. Michala Riggle is a fundraiser from Louisville, Kentucky. Her brother Evan has autism.
  2. Chelsea Stepp is a singer and songwriter from Warfield, Kentucky. Her brother Cammi has autism. 
You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "Kentucky" Label.

The map of Kentucky is from the Wikipedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Naoki Higashida

Autism Light #344 is Naoki Higashida.

Naoki Higashida is a 21 year old from Japan who has autism. Naoki was born in 1992. When he was just 13 years old he wrote the book The Reason I Jump. Although nonverbal, Naoki was able to author the book by spelling out words on a Japanese alphabet letter board.  Naoki Higashida is an Autism Light for the way in which his writing has had a positive impact on the autism community.

Autism Light first learned about Naoki Higashida two years ago when researching Larry Bissonette and Tracy Thresher, who are Autism Lights #217. Larry and Tracy refer to Naoki as a fellow traveler and his bio appears on their Wretches and Jabberers blog. Naoki was also shown in the Wretches and Jabberers movie, when Larry and Tracy visited Japan.

The Reason I Jump:  Naoki Higashida wrote The Reason I Jump as a memoir that answers questions about why he does certain things as an individual with autism. It was published in Japan in 2007. David Mitchell and his Japanese wife KA Yoshida translated the work into English in 2013.

Naoki Higashida gives this as the reason he wrote his book. "We are misunderstood, and we'd give anything if only we could be understood properly... I hope that, by reading this book, you might become a better friend of someone with autism (Naoki Higashida as Quoted by William Mandy in SFARI, 11/15/2013)."

You can purchase The Reason I Jump from

Wikipedia: You can learn more about Naoki at the Naoki Higashida Wikipedia Page. There is also a Wikipedia Page for The Reason I Jump book

Special thanks to Naoki Higashida for sharing his thoughts in The Reason I Jump. His book has opened a window into the feelings of a person with autism that benefit the autism community. We look forward to hearing many exciting things about life with autism from Naoki in the years ahead.

If you are interested in other posts on Autism in Japan search with the Autism Light blog label for Japan.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, May 26, 2014

William Bolman

Autism Light #343 is Dr. William Bolman.

Dr. William "Bill" Bolman was a long time psychiatrist from Hawaii with a special expertise in the field of autism. He was an autism advocate and the co-founder of the Autism Society of Hawaii. Dr. William Bolman passed away on April 18, 2014, leaving a legacy of service to autism. He is survived by his wife Victoria Asayama and daughters Dr. Susan Garrison Bolman and Elizabeth Stinette Bolman. A celebration of life for Dr. William Bolman will be held on May 31, 2014, at the Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary.

Dr. William Bolman will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today. It is fitting that Dr. William Bolman be added to Autism Light on this first Memorial Day after his recent passing, because he served in the United States Army. During his service he was stationed at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii.

Dr. Ryan Lee, a board member of the Autism Society of Hawaii wrote this announcement about the passing of Dr. Bohlman.
It is with sadness that we share with you the passing away of Dr. William Bolman on April 18th, 2014. Bill was gentle and compassionate with a great sense of humor.  He served children and families with autism, and other mental health disorders for over forty years. He touched many of your lives in a positive way. He was the ASH president since 2009, and is one of the founding members. 
In the 1970’s, physicians specializing in autism spectrum disorders were scarce in Hawaii. He humbly accepted his role as the local leader in the field. He had a unique passion for advancing health care opportunities, mentoring and education, and exploring novel research avenues, in hope of bettering the lives of children. He was well respected by colleagues from Boston to Hawaii, and served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and National Institutes of Mental Health. He updated himself, almost on a daily basis, in the latest findings in autism research. Bill was a scholar and a strong advocate, especially for those unable to communicate their needs effectively (Dr. Ryan Lee as Quoted on Autism Society of Hawaii Website). 

Education: Dr. William Bolman graduated from Harvard College in 1951 and Harvard Medical School in 1955. He completed his residency at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston and Boston City Hospital.

Experience:  According to his obituary, Dr. Bolman "served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and National Institute of Mental Health as well as state health departments and organizations. He also was a teaching fellow at Tufts University and Boston University and served as a professor at the University of Wisconsin and University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 4/30/2014)."

Obituary: You may read more information about Dr. Bolman's life in his obituary in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Memorial contributions are suggested to be made to the Autism Society of Hawaii.

Special thanks to Dr. William Bolman for making a difference for those with autism in Hawaii.  He is being remembered for a giving spirit, and people with autism were often the recepient of his kindness and wisdom. May Dr. William Bolman's legacy inspire others to become psychiatrists in order to help provide needed therapy for the growing number of those with autism in the years to come.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Janet Mino

Autism Light #342 is Janet Mino.

Janet Mino is a teacher from Newark, New Jersey. Janet Mino is an Autism Light because she has been teaching children on the autism spectrum for 20 years and her work was the subject of the 2013 documentary called Best Kept Secret.

Teacher:  Janet Mino is a teacher at the John F. Kennedy School in Newark, New Jersey. The John F. Kennedy School provides an education for special needs student ages 10-21. Janet Mino has been teaching children with autism for 20 years. Janet Mino said this about her teaching:
I don't get it when people say I have a hard job. I get so much joy. To me, they just think different. I want people to have an awareness that there are children in the inner city with autism that need different services, and need help. Everybody's different. America is made up of different people. They are part of this world like we are (Janet Mino as Quoted in The Montclair Times, Gwen Orel, 5/4/2013).
Best Kept Secret (2013)The film Best Kept Secret was directed by Samantha Buck and chronicles Janet Mino's efforts as a dedicated teacher to prepare six of her inner city students in their last year of school for life after graduation.

The following is the trailer to the film Best Kept Secret.  

Best Kept Secret is now available on DVD and can be purchased from Amazon

You can follow news about Best Kept Secret on the following social media:
Here is another preview on YouTube about the film Best Kept Secret.

Special thanks to Janet Mino for her dedicated work as a teacher of autism students in Newark, New Jersey. In a world that can be cold to people with autism, Janet Mino lights a fire under herself as a teacher so that she may be Autism Light. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Geri Landry

Autism Light #341 is Geri Landry.

Geri Landry is an Autism Aunt from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Geri Landry's nephew Joseph Sullivan has autism. Geri Landry is an Autism Light because her work as the President and Founder of Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana has helped many autism families. Her vision for the expansion of autism services also led her to create Creole House, the first and only group home in Louisiana that serves specifically adults with autism.

Autism Aunt: Geri Landry's nephew Joseph Sullivan has autism and is now in his 50's. Joseph Sullivan was the autistic man who Dustin Hoffman studied for the movie Rain Man. Her dedication as an autism aunt has provided passion for her to make a difference in autism services in Louisiana.

Autism Services of Southwest Lousiana: Geri Landry is the Founder and President of Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana. The autism organization started in 2003 and their first group home opened in 2009. According to their website, "Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana provides housing and support to adult individuals with autism. Creole and Louies Houses are the beginning of much to come for ASSL. Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana works in cooperation with Direct Care, Inc. to provide Personal Care Attendants twenty four hours daily to the adults living in its homes (Autism Services of Southwest Lousiana Website)."

Geri Landry shared this about a conversation she had with an autism parent, "I had a parent say yesterday to me that no one understands unless they've lived it, what it's like to have a child with autism. And to see them so happy, and happy in that they'll maybe never tell me that they're happy. They don't have to say anything, you can see it. It's such an awesome feeling to see it (FOX 29, House Teaches Autistic Adults Independence, Valen Johnson, 11/18/2013, Video no longer online)."

Special thanks to Geri Landry for using her passion for autism and leadership skills to provide resources for the autism community in Southwest Louisiana. Her foresight to open Creole House for adult living needs is a blessing to many. Geri Landry is a wonderful example of the countless aunts who honor their nephew and neice's with autism by shining a light for autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Matt Kemp

Autism Light Classic
Updated on March 20, 2018

Autism Light #340 is Matt Kemp.

Matt Kemp is a professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Matt Kemp's younger brother Carlton has autism. Matt Kemp is an Autism Light for being a dedicated autism brother and for his efforts over the years of fundraising for Talk About Curing Autism.

Ante Up for Autism:  Under the celebrity leadership of Matt Kemp, the 8th Annual Ante up for Autism event was held November 8, 2014. Here is a video featuring Matt Kemp at raising funds for autism at his charity poker event called Ante Up for Autism. More information on this autism fundraiser is available at

Autism Brother: Matt Kemp has an important relationship with his brother Carlton who has autism. He even has a tatto of his brother Carlton's name on his left shoulder. Matt Kemp credits the organization Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) for giving him hope and helping his brother. He said: 
When my brother, Carlton, became one of more than 1.5 million people affected by autism, it was a confusing blow to me. I have always wanted a little brother that I could play ball with, but Carlton's impaired ability to socially interact and communicate made it impossible for that to happen. TACA has given me hope that playing ball with him in the near future is a possibility (Kemp, Stewart co-host autism benefit, Taylor Price,, 3/15/2009).
Baseball Career:  Matt Kemp was born on September 23, 1984. He is an Outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His entire career statistics in real time are on the Matt Kemp Page on ESPN. Matt Kemp has been on the all star teams in 2011-2012 and won the Gold Glove Award in 2009 and 2011. In 2011, Kemp became the first player to finish in the top two in both home runs and steals since Hank Aaron accomplished this in 1963.

Fans:  Matt Kemp gave his shirt and shoes to a disabled fan who had cancer in the 2013 season. 

Kemp's Kids: Matt Kemp created and sponsors  a community initiative called Kemp's Kids. According to Matt Kemp's website, Kemp started the initiative to allow inner city youth the opportunity to experience major league baseball. See for more information on this worthy program. 

Social Media: You can follow Matt Kemp on the following social media areas.
Website: Matt Kemp's website is You can find out more about Matt Kemp's charities and life on this website. 

Wikipedia: You can also find out more about Matt Kemp on the Matt Kemp Wikipedia Page.

Special thanks to Matt Kemp for his efforts to make a difference for autism. His personality as an athlete, autism brother, and autism advocate in the San Diego community is an inspiration to many. The autism community is blessed to have Matt Kemp batting for our team. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo of Matt Kemp in this post is from Creative Commons of Wikipedia