Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chris Miller

Autism Light #375 is Chris Miller.

Chris Miller is in Grade 10 at Cardinal Newman School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and he has autism.  Chris Miller is an Autism Light because his quick thinking in November, 2014, helped save his neighbor who was crushed by a car.

In 2014 Chris Miller had a stroke that was caused by nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease. He had been in coma and a neurologist had said he might never walk again or use his arms or legs. But seven months later he was not only recovered from his stroke but he had the strength and skills to be a life-saving hero to his neighbor (CBC News, Adam Carter, January 15, 2015).

In November, 2014, Chris heard a cry for help outside his home and ran to investigate. His neighbor had been doing mechanical work on a car and the heavy vehicle had fallen on top of him. Chris Miller used his quick thinking and ran and grabbed his car jack and used it to lift the car up so his neighbor could get free.

Dean DiFrancesco, the principal of Cardinal Newman School in Hamilton, Canada, said, "Christopher's heroic life-saving actions demonstrate his sense of compassion and his willingness to always do whatever he can do to help those around him - whether it be in the hallways or classrooms at school or in the local community (As Quoted by CBC News, Adam Carter, January 15, 2015)."

To read more about Chris Miller's heroic act read the original news story that featured this story in the CBC News - Hamilton, Adam Carter, January 15, 2015.

Special thanks to Chris Miller for showing the world that someone with autism can truly make a difference and save the life of their fellow human being. His heroic act is an inspiration to the autism community. Chris Miller is representative of the many unsung heroes who have autism and are making a difference in service and compassion within their communities by using their talents and initiative.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Areva Martin

Autism Light #374 is Areva Martin.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This post is our 4th annual feature to honor someone who is an Autism Light in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Previous honorees on Martin Luther King, Jr. day include: Elijah Winfrey (Autism Uncle), Joshua Bennett (Autism Brother), and King Richard (Individual with Autism). If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were still with us today, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been an autism advocate and that he would have been a close ally with the following dynamic and successful autism mother.

Areva Martin is an outstanding children's and family rights attorney, author, speaker and media personality and an autism mother from Los Angeles, California. Areva Martin's son Marty has autism. Areva Martin is an Autism Light because of the tremendous difference her advocacy is making to shine a light on autism, especially it's impact on minority communities.

Areva Martin said about autism, "It impacts more children than pediatric AIDS, diabetes, childhood cancer; it is the leading childhood disorder. So given the enormous number of children that are going to be impacted, it really requires all of us to become advocates (As Quoted in the St. Louis American, Sandra Jordan, April 23, 2010).

Areva Martin grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. The following biographical video on her amazing life was done by Living St. Louis.

Attorney: Areva D. Martin is a successful attorney in the Los Angeles area specializing in children's and family rights. The law firm she operates with her husband Ernest Martin, Jr., called Martin & Martin LLP, is one of the top law firms in the Los Angeles area.

Education: Areva Martin is a graduate with honors of the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School.

Special Needs Network, Inc.: Areva Martin is the President and co-founder of the Special Needs Network, Inc. She started this nonprofit organization after her son Marty was diagnosed with autism. The Special Needs Network has the following mission.
Our mission is to raise public awareness of developmental disabilities and to impact public policy while providing education and resources to families, children and adults. SNN serves as a link between under-served communities and mainstream developmental disability organizations and governmental institutions which often fail to address issues specific to these communities. SNN firmly believes that dignity, hope, and opportunity are the birthright of all children (Special Needs Network Website). 
Areva Martin's biography at IMDb says that the Special Needs Network "has raised millions of dollars and provided for over 15,000 families in low income communities across California (Areva Martin-Biography IMDb)."

The following is an interview with Areva Martin on her book The Everday Advocate.

Author: Areva Martin is the author of the following books.
Areva Martin also writes advocacy articles for media outlets including one she wrote in November, 10, 2014, for Huffington Post called Children of Color and Autism: Too Little too Late

Media Personality: Areva Martin is a frequent legal analyst on television programs such as Anderson Cooper 360, Dr. Phil, The Doctors, The CBS Early Show, and Fox News. There are clips of recent appearances she has made on television on the video section of the Areva Martin Website. Other autism features involving Areva Martin include:

Social Media: You can follow Areva Martin on the following social media areas. She is especially active on Twitter.
Special thanks to Areva Martin for her advocacy for autism as an autism mother, attorney, author, and media personality. The ripple effects of her passion and work on behalf of autism can be felt around the United States and beyond. Areva Martin's work is an inspiration to the autism community. May her example light the way for others to serve those with autism, especially to help with the needs related to autism in the African American community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

The photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. in this post is in the Creative Commons of Wikipedia and is from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

John Dalen

Autism Light #373 is John Dalen.

Photo of John Dalen
John Dalen
John Dalen is a 26 year old from Phoenix, Arizona who has autism. Armed with a deep faith in God, a supportive mother, and a determination to be an entrepreneur, John started a business in 2014 from his home that sells "Essential Energy Bars".  John is comfortable in the role his faith and work provides for him in his business. John Dalen is an Autism Light because of how his faith and business set an example to others with autism that it is possible to make a difference through one's spiritual life and work efforts.

John is nonverbal and uses facilitated speech communication. In order to start his business John took the online course and test to obtain his food handlers card and his home has been licensed by the State of Arizona for food service production. Jane Dalen said about her son, "I know he's intelligent. Just because he can't speak and he might pinch and grab because he was frustrated, I just knew someday he would break through (As quoted in CBS5 Arizona, November 23, 2014)." John Dalen's current business enterprise reflects how far he has come in living and thriving with autism.

The following is a video news story on John Dalen and his business ventures with "Essential Energy Bars".


Education: John Dalen graduated from Greenway High School in Phoenix in 2011. In order to help him with his business, John Dalen took a marketing courses at Paradise Valley Community College in the summer of 2014. This semester he is taking a class on "How to Own and Operate a Small Business". The Rising Entrepreneur Program at Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center also provided help for John to get his business started.

Christian Faith: John Dalen is a Christian and his faith has given him much hope as he has grown up with autism into the adult he is today.  John considers his business as a way for him to be a "Baker for God", and it gives him the opportunity to pray over diverse people who will have the blessing to enjoy his energy bars. Jane Dalen reflected on the roots of her son's spiritual life from it's beginnings to how it is lived out today in the following letter to Autism Light. 
John became a Christian and accepted Jesus as His Savior when he was 8 yrs old. I did not know it till we were able to learn facilitated communication when he was about 13. He was in a Bible class at a local Bible church where the message was presented and he wrote and told me he accepted Jesus then. He loves to attend church and worship time is his favorite. Even though he cannot sing, he will move in rhythm, try to sing, jump at times during his favorite songs and has that relentless joy that only comes from having faith. 
He knows the power of prayer and loves to pray for people. People at church will say how much joy they get from hearing and seeing John worship. And he sits still during the sermon and takes it all in. 
We read from the Bible daily, he prays for people and he does community outreaches to visit people in an assisted living facility, raises money for AZ Hope and a Future by doing their walk, he monthly gives to one of our pastors involved in Reach Global Africa, 10% of his business goes to a prophetic ministry. These are just some of the ways he expresses his faith and hope (Jane Dalen).
Joni Eareckson Tada: Joni Eareckson Tada, a paraplegic who has had a Christian ministry to the disabled community since 1979 called Joni and Friends, is a friend of John Dalen.  John sent Joni a gift of his bars to try along with a note saying, "Joni, I pray before making each batch of bars, that those who enjoy them will be nourished by God in a special way (Joni and Friends Blog, November 3, 2014)."

About the Energy Bars: John Dalen's business product is called "Essential Energy Bars". "Their energy bars are gluten free, low in unhealthy fats and sugars and tied up nicely in an eco-friendly recycled packaging (Adam Longo, CBS5 Arizona, November 23, 2014)."

Availability: John Dalen's "Essential Energy Bars" are currently available at Beneficial Beans Cafe in Scottsdale Civic Center Library and the Union 32 in Phoenix. Because of Arizona licensing regulations for the type of food business John has, his bars can only be sold to people in the State of Arizona. If you are an Arizona resident with an interest in ordering some of these energy bars or you wish to dialogue about John's autism life and business, email John and Jane Dalen at essentialnourishment@cox.net for more information.

Special thanks to John Dalen for shining a light for autism through his example as a man of faith and a business entrepreneur. John's story of success shows the potential that exists within people with autism to make a difference in their work and faith and it is also a tribute to the important role that an autism mother has in supporting her sons dreams. John makes a point of praying over his product as part of his business practice as a Christian. Likewise John is in our prayers and we wish John all the best in his future endeavors as he continues to build and grow his business. John Dalen is truly a blessing to the autism community.

You can search the label Christian at Autism Light and learn about others whose Christian faith helps them in the world of autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism. 

Photo: The photo in this post was used with permission of John Dalen.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Moe Norman

Autism Light #372 is Moe Norman. 

Murray Irwin "Moe" Norman was a legendary golf player with a perfectly straight natural swing that continues to be a model to this day and earned him the nickname "Pipeline Moe". Many of his close friends believe Moe had autism and was a savant for his unparalleled skill in golf. Moe Norman was born on July 10, 1929, and he died of congestive heart failure on September 4, 2004. His home was in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Moe Norman is an Autism Light because of how his efforts set an example for young people with autism who aspire to play professional golf, including young Wyatt Iles, who was Autism Light #351. Moe Norman will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

Golfing Career: Moe Norman had 55 professional wins and shot a hole-in-one a remarkable 17 times.  Moe played briefly in Major PGA tournaments in the United States in the late 1950's, but his eccentric behavior caused him some problems fitting into the rigid culture of the PGA and led him to retreat to exclusively playing in tournaments in his homeland of Canada. He set 33 golf course records and won the Canadian PGA in 1966 and 1974. He was the Canadian PGA Seniors' Championship winner from 1979-1985 and in 1987.

Hall of Fame: Moe Norman was inducted into the following hall of fames.

Bruce Selcraig said, "I never heard Norman speak about autism, but I know that he understood its cruelties. In his car, which was filled with old newspaper clippings and the motivational tapes that helped rescue his life, he once had a well-worn article about autism sitting on the front seat. In the article the outdated term 'idiot savant' was discussed at length. Norman had crossed out the word idiot (USA Today, September 29, 2004)."

Moe & Me: Loren Rubenstein published the book Moe & Me in April, 2012 reflecting on his relationship with Moe Norman.  Bradley S. Klein's review of the book said this about it.
Rubenstein makes clear in this sad and touching tale that Norman lived a life filled with meaning and purpose. Maybe he suffered a form of autism. Maybe he was an obsessive-compulsive. But he had a special gift, and he built it into a life. He was something of a “Rainman” of golf. It’s an existence that would make a great movie. The key, as Rubenstein emphasizes throughout, is that Norman found a certain inner peace and security just hitting those perfect shots (Bradley S. Klein, Golf Week).
Moe Norman said later in his life, "It's not what the world gives you, but what you can give it. I'm lucky. I can give the world talent. I can explain it and show it to people. That's what I love doing. I just love it (Moe Norman on Moe Norman.org)."

Lee Trevino Praise: Lee Trevino said of Moe, "I don't know of any player, ever, who could strike a golf ball like Moe Norman, as far as hitting it solid, knowing where it is going and knowing what he wants to do with the ball Moe Norman is a genius when it comes to playing the game of golf (Moe Norman.org)."

Legacy of Swing: Moe Norman had such skill at his natural golf swing that ten years after his death, there is still a Moe Norman Single Swing Authority program being promoted by Graves Golf and the website moenorman.org also teaches the late golfer's technique.

Wikipedia:  You can learn more about Moe Norman on the Moe Norman Wikipedia Page.

You can also read more about Moe Norman at these websites.

Perhaps Moe Norman might have become one of the greatest golfers in history if he had the appropriate supports for his disability, but what he did accomplish was amazing in itself. His life is an example to others that people with autism can excel at sports, including golf. Like many individuals with autism, Moe was a happy person. Moe Norman's own words may describe how he would want to be remembered by the golfing public and the autism community. "Hope and fear, hope and fear, that's how people play golf. Not me. No, not me. I see happiness. I see happiness (Bradley S. Klein, Golf Week).

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Robin Parker

Autism Light #371 is Robin Parker.

Robin Shari-Rosenthal Parker, of North Lauderdale, Florida, was a professor in the communications sciences and disorders field at Nova Southeastern University. She passed away on July 16, 2014, at the age of 50, from pancreatic cancer. Robin Parker is survived by her husband Glenn, a daughter Sarah, and a son Michael. Also, surviving are her parents Lenore and David Rosenthal. Dr. Robin Parker is an Autism Light for her insights into autism and her decades of providing practical help with the communication needs of people with autism. Robin Parker will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

Education: Robin Parker received her Bachelor and Master's Degree from Florida State University. She earned her doctorate degree in Communication Disorders from Nova Southeastern University.

At the time of her death, Robin Parker was a professor at Nova Southeastern University. In order to improve communication with individuals who have autism, her work also included an interest in a study of effective communication Apps for mobile devices. Wren Newman, the Executive Director at the Speech Pathology program at Nova Southeastern University said,
We'll make sure she is not forgotten. Our students will know about her and her work. She was positive and gave families hope and strategies to implement with their children. In the 30 years I've been in this field, I can't think of a positive descriptor that I couldn't use about Robin (Wren Newman as Quoted in the Miami Herald, July 17, 2014).

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/article1975920.html#storylink=cpy
The following is an interview of Dr. Robin Parker on communication conducted by Dr. Cyndy Hayes.

PrAACtical AAC Blog: Robin Parker along with her colleague Dr. Carole Zangari founded the PrAACtical AAC blog to promote supports for language learning in 2012.  Dr. Zangari said, "The blog was a happy place for [Robin]. She was all about helping individuals who can't speak gain a voice (Autism Daily Newscast, July 19, 2014)."

There are many resources available on the PrAACtical AAC blog. Strategies, videos, a tool box, and other material are available for therapists and people that work with autism. The blog also includes several supports to help observe Jewish Disability Awareness Month.

Parent Testimony: Mona Nasser said, "My daughter is an adult now and because of the work Robin did she will be able to manage her life in a meaningful way. I've since had the privilege of calling her one of my best friends and she lived her life like she left it--with dignity, respect and compassion (Mona Nasser as Quoted in the Miami Herald, July 17, 2014)."

The contributions that Dr. Robin Parker made for autism won't soon be forgotten. They have enriched human lives and have ushered in groundbreaking understandings of communications that will be felt in the field of autism for years to come. It is hoped that the legacy of Robin Parker will encourage other people to become experts in communications in order to shine a light for autism. Our thoughts continue to be with her family in their loss.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Izzy Paskowitz

Autism Light #370 is Israel "Izzy" Paskowitz. 

Israel "Izzy" Paskowitz is a professional surfer from San Juan Capistrano, California and an Autism Father. Izzy and his wife Danielle have a daughter named Ella and a son with autism named Isaiah. Izzy Paskowitz and his wife Danielle founded Surfers Healing, a nonprofit surf camp for children with autism over 15 years ago.  Izzy Paskowitz is named the first Autism Light of 2015 for making a difference in thousands of autism families through Surfers Healing. Izzy will also be the first representative of surfing on the Autism Light Sports Page.

Izzy was born as one of nine children in the famous "Doc" Paskowitz family, who in the early 1970's traveled around the United States in their camper and became known as the "First Family of Surfing". The Documentary Surfwise was written in 2007 about Izzy's family.

Gabriel Noble wrote, "Izzy naturally became a pro surfer. In 1983 he beat legends of the sport and soon became a world champion long-boarder. He won national and international events, including Australia's Coke Classic Championship and the Hang Ten Classic. At the height of his career he landed a Nike cover ad standing next to Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi (Gabriel Noble, Yahoo News, June 27, 2013)."

Here is a video of Izzy Paskowitz talking about his work at Surfers Healing.

In the above video Izzy Paskowitz says,
I know exactly what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to be here to take out children with autism surfing. I couldn't do anything else in autism. I'm not going to find the cure. I don't know to much about autism. But I know now I can take a bunch of autistic kids and we can ride waves and are not going to charge a penny for it (Izzy Paskowitz).
Scratching the Horizon: In 2012, Izzy Pascowitz and Daniel Paisner wrote the book Scratching the Horizon: A Surfing Life. Kristen Herrett wrote an Amazon review describing the book like this:
Izzy Paskowitz didn't think his life story would fill a book. It does more than fill it. It jumps out. Izzy pulls no punches and deals with his life honestly. While most memoirs are sold by their sensationalist revelations, Izzy acknowledges the sensational parts of his life with a shrug as if to say, "I know this sounds foreign to YOU, but it was just my life." The strength of Izzy's voice in the book leave the reader feeling as though he or she is being told the story over dinner and drinks. And it zips by much too quickly. This is not just another sob story memoir, it is an intimate look into a life that is anything but ordinary.
Surfers Healing: Surfers Healing was started in 1998. As a nonprofit surf camp, they depend on donations and volunteers to make this endeavor happen. In 2013, 4,500 kids were given the opportunity to surf at a Surfers Healing day camp. According to the Surfers Healing website their mission is:
Through the transformative experience of surfing, Surfers Healing attains greater mainstream acceptance for both the families of and the kids living with autism. People seem to have a lot of pre-conceived ideas about what kids with autism can or can't do. We're here to change those notions forever. Surfers Healing has spent the last 15 years taking children with autism surfing. Our goal is to help foster the understanding and acceptance of autism. 
Here is a video about Surfers Healing.

Social Media: You can follow Izzy Paskowitz and Surfers Healing on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Izzy Paskowitz for his vision to help start Surfers Healing and his dedication to continue this very memorable camp for many children with autism. Izzy Paskowitz's efforts are an example of what a father can do by using their own talents and professional expertise to make a difference for autism. We wish Izzy and his family all the best. They are a treasure to the autism community.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.