Sunday, November 25, 2018

Tristram Smith

Autism Light #468 is Tristram Smith.

Tristram H. Smith, Ph.D., BCBA, was a leader in the field of evidence-based research as a treatment for autism. He had been serving at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) since 2000 and at the time of his passing was the URMC's Haggerty-Friedman Professor in Developmental/Behavioral Pediatric Research. He was born on April 9, 1961, and passed away on August 8, 2018, at the age of 57, from a heart attack. He is survived by his wife Jennifer Katz and two children, Jonah Smith and Madeleine Katz. His funeral service was held on August 10, 2018, at the Anthony Funeral Chapel in Brighton, New York (Read more at Anthony Funeral Chapel Obituary for Tristram Smith). Tristram Smith will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, said of Tristram Smith, "For autism families, he was a hero. His research was groundbreaking, of course, but he also pushed for increased access to autism services and lobbied for legislative changes. It's unusual to see scientists also act as advocates, but Tris went far beyond what most clinician-researchers do (As quoted by University of Rochester Medical Center News, August 8, 2018).

Other Tributes: The Association for Science in Autism Treatment published several noteworthy tributes to Tristram Smith after his untimely death. You can read them in the article Tributes to Dr. Tristram Smith.

In April 2018, the Autism Partnership Foundation gave Tristram Smith the Lifetime Achievement Award. Here is the video of the presentation of the award.

Author: Tristram Smith published the book Making Inclusion Work for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Evidence-Based Guide in 2011. It is available on

Tristram Smith passed away just days after giving this presentation at the UC Davis Mind Institute on August 3, 2018.

We remember Tristram Smith for his efforts to advance the field of evidence-based research for autism treatment. It is our hope that his life and research will be a foundation to inspire others to enter the field of autism research to continue the advancements for future generations. Our thoughts are with the family he leaves behind.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Trey Kruse

Autism Light #467 is Trey Kruse.

Trey Kruse lives in Stillwater, Minnesota and is a Junior at Stillwater High School. Trey is a member of the National Honor Society, plays football and is captain of the Stillwater High School wrestling team. Trey Kruse is an Autism Light because of a friendship he has with Adam Potter, who has autism. That friendship has made a tremendous difference in Adam's life.

The two first met when they were classmates in 2nd grade at Stonebridge Elementary School. The friendship between Trey Kruse and Adam Potter has taken different turns as the pair advanced through middle school and high school, and became involved in many separate activities in high school. But their friendship has survived the test of time and has especially impacted Adam by giving him an added strength to face the world each day, knowing that he always has that one good and true friend.

Lisa Potter said about her son Adam and Trey, "We've had many, many people come into Adam's life and all of a sudden they never come back. But Trey is the one who's stayed true (Quoted by Boyd Huppert, KARE 11, November 5, 2018)."

Watch this video from KARE 11 in Minneapolis for a moving look at the friendship between Trey and Adam.

Here is what was posted recently on Twitter about their friendship.

Lisa Potter said about her son Adam and Trey, "Every day he's (Adam's) trying to navigate this foreign language and trying to figure out what we mean. Trey is that bright light that reminds him everything's going to be OK (Quoted by Boyd Huppert, KARE 11, November 5, 2018)."

Special thanks to Trey Kruse for being an Autism Light and being a good, long-time friend of Adam Potter. Trey and Adam's friendship is a shining example of how a relationship between a student with autism and their neurotypical peer can be life-changing. May their friendship continue to remain steadfast through the unknown future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Travis Rudolph

Autism Light #466 is Travis Rudolph.

Travis Rudolph is a wide receiver in the National Football League, who has played for the New York Giants since 2017. He was born on September 15, 1995, and is from West Palm Beach, Florida. He played for the Florida State University football team in college. Travis Rudolph is an Autism Light because in August 2016, he was visiting Montford Middle School in Tallahassee with other Florida State players and at lunch he sat next to Bo Paske, a student with autism who was eating by himself. Travis Rudolph will be added to the Autism Light Sports page today.

Travis Rudolph
The encounter Travis Rudolph had with Bo Paske prompted the boys mother Leah Paske to write on Facebook, "I'm not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I'm happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten. This is one day I didn't have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes. Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life! (, Jared Shanker, FSU WR makes 'fans for life' by eating with autistic student. August 31, 2016)."

Florida State: Travis Rudolph played for Florida State University football from 2014-2016. His college statistics are listed by Fox Sports.

NFL: 2018 is Travis Rudolph's second season in the NFL as a wide receiver for the New York Giants. He is 6'0" and 190 lbs. Travis Rudolph's NFL stats are on ESPN.

Below is the news story that CBS This Morning produced in 2016 about Travis Rudolph and Bo Paske. The photo of the two eating lunch together went viral on social media. 

Below is the original heartfelt post on Facebook that Leah Paske posted about how happy she was that her son was eating lunch with Travis Rudolph. After the picture went viral many students wanted to eat lunch with Bo Paske in the subsequent days of the school year.

Wikipedia: To find out more about Travis Rudolph visit the Travis Rudolph Wikipedia Page.

Twitter: You can follow Travis Rudolph on Twitter @TravisRudolph5 to keep up with him on social media.

Special thanks to Travis Rudolph for being an Autism Light and giving special attention and time for a boy with autism named Bo Paske. His example is an inspiration almost two years after his meeting with Bo Paske. We hope that Travis Rudolph's sensitive and caring actions will inspire other star athletes to spend time with children who have special needs. We wish Travis Rudolph all the best in his career in the NFL.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo Credit for picture of Travis Rudolph: By Jeffrey Beall - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Link

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Rochel Groner

Autism Light #465 is Rochel Groner.

Rochel Groner and her husband Rabbi Bentzion Groner are Chabad emissaries in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is 34 years old and is the co-director with her husband of  Friendship Circle and ZABS Place, organizations that provide innovative programming and employ young adults with special needs in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rochel Groner is an Autism Light for her daily work with individuals with autism and especially for her actions on July 14, 2017, to comfort a boy with autism during a meltdown while on board an 8 hour transatlantic flight.

On July 14, 2017, Rochel Groner (and Rabbi Bentzion Groner) were on a airplane flight headed home to the United States after taking a group of youth on a birthright trip to Israel. On this flight a boy with autism was having a meltdown on the plane. Rochel Groner used her experience, talents and compassion to help calm the boy for two hours until he was completely over his meltdown and ready to return to his mother.

Rochel Groner applied sensory pressure by holding the boy and found some creative games to play with him in the middle of the flight. She told the Jerusalem Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that after he calmed down, "It was beautiful to see. It was incredible, the transformation. Whatever had been bothering him wasn't bothering him, he was in a better place (Jerusalem Telegraphic Agency, Josefin Dolsten, July 17, 2017)."

Rabbi Bentzion Groner said of his wife, "While most of the passengers watched in awe little did they know that for Rochel this is her life (Jerusalem Telegraphic Agency, Josefin Dolsten, July 17, 2017)."

Below is the Facebook post that Rabbi Bentzion Groner posted about this incident. The post went viral and has received almost 7,000 likes over the first year since it was written.

Friendship Circle: Rochel Groner is the co-director of Friendship Circle. The Friendship Circle website describes its mission as that of "fostering enduring and meaningful friendships between those with special needs, our "Special Friends", and typically-developing teens, our "Teen Friends", in the Greater Charlotte Jewish Community."

ZABS Place: Rochel Groner is also the co-director of ZABS Place. The ZABS Place website describes its work in this way:
ZABS Place is an upscale thrift boutique & employment training center for young adults with special needs run by the Friendship Circle of Charlotte. We have chosen a resale shop as our employment medium because it mirrors our goal of revealing hidden potential (ZABS Place Website, Retrieved on May 31, 2018).
Social Media: You can follow the work of Rochel Groner on the following social media sites.

Special thanks to Rochel Groner for being an Autism Light. Her compassionate and skilled intervention to help a boy with autism in the middle of his mid-flight meltdown on July 14, 2017, is an example to all. In addition, her work at Friendship Circle and ZABS Place is making a tremendous difference to young people with special needs and autism. We wish her all the best in her service that is transformed and inspired by her Chabad Jewish faith. Rochel Groner is shining a light as she lives her faith and serves humanitarian needs such as autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Ruth C. Sullivan

Autism Light #155 is Ruth C. Sullivan.

Dr. Ruth C. Sullivan is an autism mother from Huntington, West Virginia. She and her husband William had 7 children, including a son Joseph who has autism. Ruth and her son Joseph have remained in Huntington to this day because of the important services that are in place for him that don't cross state lines. Born in 1924, Ruth is an autism pioneer who has spent over half of her long lifetime as an advocate and community organizer for autism needs. She was one of the founders of the Autism Society of America and served as its first President in 1965. Ruth C. Sullivan is an Autism Light because of her devotion as an autism mother and her dedication to help other families with autism.

Education: Ruth Sullivan earned her doctorate in psychology from Ohio University in 1984 in psychology, speech, and hearing science and special education. She also has degrees in public health nursing and public health administration.

The following is a video where Ruth Sullivan shares her experiences with receiving her son's autism diagnosis and her dreams for autism services and research.

Autism Society of America: Ruth Sullivan was one of the founders of the Autism Society of America (formerly called National Society for Autistic Children) and served as its first President in 1965. The Autism Society of America is the oldest grass roots organization in the autism community (Wikipedia: Autism Society of America). She continues to be an honorary board member of the organization.

Ruth Sullivan made key contributions to this 2009 video by the Autism Society of America called The Future of Autism.

Autism Services Center: Ruth Sullivan founded the Autism Services Center in Huntington, West Virginia in 1979 as a nonprofit behavioral health center. It serves Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Mason and Putnam counties in the state of West Virginia. She retired from the organization in 2007, at the age of 83 (Hilary Groutage, Herald-Dispatch, October 30, 2007).

West Virginia Autism Training Center: Ruth Sullivan helped form the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University in Huntington. It has been her dream that every major university would one day have their own autism training center.

Rain Man Movie: Ruth Sullivan served as an autism consultant to the 1988 movie Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman. Her son Joseph was one of the individuals with autism that Dustin Hoffman studied in order to improve his role in the movie.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):  Ruth Sullivan was one of the lobbyists for Public Law No. 94-142, which became a United States law in 1975 and since 1990 has been called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. It became the landmark law that guaranteed handicapped children with autism and other disabilities had the right to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The ramifications of this law continue to this day to be felt in important rights that parents and their children have when working with diverse public school systems around the country.

Temple Grandin: Ruth Sullivan was the first person to invite Temple Grandin (Autism Light #38) to speak in public about her autism. She also wrote the forward to Temple Grandin's book The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's (2008)

Wikipedia: Visit the Ruth C. Sullivan Wikipedia page for more information on this Autism Light.

Special thanks to Dr. Ruth Sullivan for being an Autism Light. Her faithfulness as a mother and advocate has sent rays of hope for autism across the United States. May the example that Ruth Sullivan has provided inspire other mothers to carry forth the light to meet a new generation of autism needs.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Special Note: Ruth Sullivan is the new Autism Light #155 replacing the numbered spot on the blog left vacant after the removal of Dr. Hans Asperger.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Inspiration and Dreams

Alan Stokes and Jonathan at the Cadillac, Michigan YMCA on Dec. 9, 2017.

I haven't talk personally much about my son Jonathan on this blog, because the style has always been to tell the story of diverse autism heroes from around the world rather than our family situation. But he has always been a part of this. I started this blog in June 2011, almost 7 years ago. Writing these profiles of positive heroes has strengthened my heart from the early days of receiving the autism diagnosis to dealing with a teenager with autism. He is the reason I started the Autism Light blog and he is the reason I keep it going. As he has grown older the new releases on the blog have at times been few and far between. This blog takes a backseat to my priority to care for him and spend time with him.

One of the ways we are able to spend time together is by going to YMCA's around our state on weekends. A story has been written about this and it was featured in our local paper. See article by Judy Putnam, Lansing State Journal, April 28, 2018. Now that many new people have been introduced to Jonathan through this article, it seems fitting to share a dream I have for Jonathan and this blog.

I have a dream that one day Jonathan will progress to be able to help me maintain this blog by suggesting subjects, doing some of the writing and indexing of content, and determining the evolving style of it. I hope that one day he will tell his own story in his own words on this blog, and part of me is saving that part for him, as I continue to focus on profiles of others who have their own journey with autism. I'm recording that dream here, because when it happens I want to show him that I prayed for it and believed in it long before the dream ever seemed possible. 

Don't compare yourself to others. Write up your own dreams for your situation. Make sure your dreams are big enough to make you smile if they come true, and that you are big enough to smile if your dreams don't come true.

Dr. Stephen Shore said, "If you've met one person with autism you've met one person with autism (Art of Autism Quotes)." Whether you regularly follow Autism Light or just happened to stumble across some past content here through a search engine, I encourage you to always keep in mind that everyone with autism is different, just like people without autism. Some of these profiles of autism heroes may trigger an idea to apply to your life and others may seem to be meant for someone else. Learn to love helping others reach their dreams and you may find your own have come true.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Statement on Dr. Hans Asperger

Autism Light honored Dr. Hans Asperger as Autism Light #155 on February 25, 2012. Over 6,000 people read his post between 2012 and 2018. Autism Light seeks to be a stop on the Internet that is uplifting and respectful to all people of diverse backgrounds in the autism community.

Evidence of Dr. Asperger's cooperation with the Nazis that resulted in numerous disabled children being needlessly euthanized were not known in 2012 (See Guy Walters: How DID Dr. Asperger hide his past as a CHILD-KILLING monster for so long?, Daily Mail, April 19, 2018). While Dr. Hans Asperger did some good for autism during his time on this earth, as evidence by his original naming as an Autism Light, the uncovering of his horrific conduct rises to the level where he is no longer fit to be named alongside other autism heroes, including disabled children with autism and members of the Jewish community.

Today we are removing the post on Dr. Hans Asperger at Autism Light and removing it from all index pages on the blog, including the Memorial Roll. Our next post at Autism Light will be  a replacement subject for Autism Light #155.

My personal opinion is that the label Asperger's Syndrome (established to honor Dr. Hans Asperger posthumously), and which has been applied to high-functioning people with autism, should be eliminated and changed in light of this news about his conduct. However, I will leave that up to the group of people who have high-functioning autism to come forward with an appropriate name change.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tarik El-Abour

Autism Light #464 is Tarik El-Abour.

Tarik El-Abour is a 25 year old with autism from San Marino, California. After playing college baseball and two seasons of baseball for the Empire Pro Baseball League, Tarik El-Abour received a minor league contract from the Kansas City Royals in April 2018, making him by all accounts the first player with autism ever to be signed by a major league baseball organization. Tarik El-Abour is an Autism Light because of how his groundbreaking achievement in baseball will encourage others with autism to follow their athletic dreams no matter how high they may be.

After Tarik was diagnosed with autism at age 3, his mother Nadia Khalil quit her corporate job and went to UCLA to get an education in Special Education in order to help her son. She is now a popular author, speaker and teacher of self development. Nadia Khalil says this about her son.
"Those of us without autism think in concepts, he thinks in numbers. The greater the number of times he did anything, the better he was at it. Just like us. However, the way the numbers worked in his mind went way further than anything I could have yet imagined. He knew he had to practice. He knew he loved it. He told me that when he grew up and played baseball, he would buy me a house wherever he plays, so that I could watch his games live. He did not know yet how different he was. He did not know yet how autism was going to speak for him before he could speak for himself (Nadia Khalil, Quoted by Mitch Lehman, San Marino Tribune, August 9, 2017).”
The following is a news story on the Kansas City Royals signing Tarik El-Abour.

Tarik El-Abour was introduced to baseball when his father, Abed El-Abour registered him to play baseball in the San Marino National Little League. His road from there has been a steady pace to new opportunities.

College Career: Tarik El-Abour played baseball in college at Pasadena City College, Condordia University, Pacifica College and Bristol University. He received his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Bristol University but was not drafted out of college.

Empire League Career: "In 2016, El-Abour was named the Empire League's Rookie of the Year after batting .323 in 122 plate appearances and in 2017, he won a championship with the Plattsburgh Red Birds (DJ Dunson, Yahoo Sports, April 4, 2018)."

Reggie Sanders, a special adviser for the Kansas City Royals and an autism advocate, was instrumental in helping connect Tarik El-Abour and the Royals. Here is a video of the news conference where the Royals announced signing Tarik El-Abour.

Reggie Sanders said this about Tarik's major league baseball contract helping the autism community,
"Tarik doesn't realize what he's doing. But the beautiful thing is that it's so raw for him because he's focusing just on baseball. But he doesn't realize he's really helping the community, which is amazing (Reggie Sanders, Quoted by Maria Torres, The Kansas City Star, April 14, 2018)." 
Special thanks to Tarik El-Abour for being an Autism Light. We wish him the best of luck in his professional baseball career with the Kansas City Royals minor league system. May his achievement be an inspiration to others with autism who aspire to be professional athletes.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Holly Young

Autism Light #463 is Holly Young. 

Holly Young is an autism mother, retired police officer, and business owner from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her 8 year old son Roman has autism. She retired after 16 years as a police officer to open a business called Puzzle Pieces in order to provide a place where parents of children with autism and special needs could find appropriate toys. Holly Young is also known for filing a federal lawsuit in 2012 against the failure of Ohio to provide ABA therapy for her son. Holly Young is an Autism Light because of the way in which she has helped provide resources and set the stage for legal precedent that will make a tremendous difference for autism families in Ohio and around the country.

Puzzle Pieces: Puzzle Pieces is a store opened by Holly Young so that parents and their children with autism would have a place they could go to see and touch toys geared for their special needs. Puzzle Pieces had their grand opening on March 24, 2018. The store is located at the address 11912 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, Ohio.

The following is a news story on the opening of Puzzle Pieces.

Holly Young experienced frustration when she couldn't find a place to acquire therapy toys geared for autism, so she went into retirement from being a police officer in order to open Puzzle Pieces. Puzzle Pieces is not merely a business but a resource for the autism community in Ohio born from the passion of an autism mother that discovered a need for it.

Holly Young said, "Picking out a toy for a child is hard. Picking out a toy for an atypical child with sensory needs is very hard, so hopefully this will help bridge that gap for parents (As quoted by Nicole Pelletiere, ABC News, March 21, 2018).

Groundbreaking Lawsuit in Ohio for ABA Therapy: Holly Young had to fight the State of Ohio over the lack of ABA Therapy for her son Roman. Roman began receiving services in 2011 through the Help Me Grow program in Ohio when he was age 2. When the state refused to provide ABA therapy and services ended in August 2012, she and her husband David filed a lawsuit in December of that year. In January 2013 Judge Michael Barrett ruled in their favor of the Young's forcing Ohio to provide ABA services (WBRC News, January 15, 2013). In 2014 they received a settlement of $142,000 for the time that Roman went without treatment and how that impacted his development (, September 30, 2014). This case was inspirational and helpful in opening doors for countless other autism families by setting legal precedent regarding ABA therapy.

"Roman has paved the way for a lot of autistic children that are having the same problems we had. The United States Department of Education actually stepped in and said Ohio was not doing what they should be doing for children zero to three, Holly Young said (As quoted by Adrianne Kelly,, September 30, 2014).

Social Media: You can follow Puzzle Pieces at the Facebook page for Puzzle Pieces.

Special thanks to Holly Young for being an Autism Light. She is an inspiration for her dedication as an autism mother, and her willingness to take action in the public arena that is making a practical difference for other autism families in Ohio. The climate for autism is improved for many by the faithfulness of mothers like Holly Young who see a need and do what they can to meet that need, even though it involves sacrifice. We wish Holly Young and her store Puzzle Pieces much success.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sense-Ability School

Autism Light #462 is Sense-Ability School for Autism.

Sense-Ability School for Autism is the first and at this time only private school in the State of Montana dedicated to educating people with autism. The school was started in September 2017 by founders Sharon Altschwager and Rita Rowe-Watson. It is a 501 (c)(3) organization and is located at 1220 17th Street South in Great Falls, Montana. Sense-Ability School is an Autism Light because of their groundbreaking educational program that will help a cohort of students in Montana with autism and also serve as an example for other future schools.

Below is a news story on the beginning of Sense-Ability School.

At the founding of the school tuition was set at $21,000 a year. The school has been organizing regular fundraisers with the goal to provide a scholarship fund to help families with tuition costs. There will be a lead teacher for each group of 4 students and behavioral assistants that work with each student individually throughout the day (KRTV.Com, July 22, 2017). Patty Goodmundson, a licensed clinical counselor and educator for 29 years will serve as the school's first teacher. The school follows the Montana State Curriculum with academics in the morning and life skills in the afternoon, including art, drama, and equine therapy.

It is hoped that students with autism will be able to return to a public school after receiving a few years of help at Sense-Ability School. Rita Rowe who serves as the Vice President of the school said, "Public education system has provided a great service for most children with autism. However, they're are some that their needs just aren't being met, and our goal is to fill in that gap and get those kids ready and back into public school (As quoted by KRTV.Com, July 22, 2017)."

Social Media: You can follow Sense-Ability on social media by liking the Sense-Ability Facebook page.

Vision for Future: Sense-Ability has a vision for helping the community as the school evolves in the future. Sarah Dettmer of the Great Falls Tribune reported that Sharon Altschwager, "would like to expand Sense-Ability's offerings to include a one-stop center for people on the spectrum to find resources, counseling, and therapy. But until then, she said her focus is on providing social and emotional support to special needs children (Sarah Dettmer, Great Falls Tribune, October 31, 2017)."

Special thanks to the Sense-Ability School for Autism for being an Autism Light through their specific vision to serve the educational needs of some individuals with autism in Montana. We wish the school great success in the years ahead and hope that it will serve as an example for other autism educational initiatives in other areas of Montana and throughout the United States.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nancy Herndon Cale

Autism Light #461 is Nancy Herndon Cale.

Nancy Herndon Cale served as an advocate in the autism community for the past two decades, motivated by her personal relationship to autism as a grandmother. Her grandson Wynn Johnson has autism. She was born on January 5, 1944, in Atlanta and passed away on August 11, 2017, at the age of 73. Nancy was the co-founder of Unlocking Autism and had worked for over a decade as a counselor at the hotline call center for Autism Research Institute. She is survived by three children, Todd Hale, Shannon Johnson and Branndan VanEgmond, and four grandchildren. Her memorial service was held on August 13, 2017 at the Peachtree City Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia (Read more at Dignity Memorial). Nancy Herndon Cale will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.

The following is a photo tribute to Nancy Cale from her daughter Shannon Johnson's YouTube Channel.

Unlocking Autism: Nancy Herndon Cale co-founded Unlocking Autism in 1998 with Shelley Hendrix Reynolds, in honor of her grandson, Wynn. In her role at Unlocking Autism, "Nancy fielded many thousands of calls and emails from families in need in the U.S. and around the world (Read more at National Vaccine Information Center, August 14, 2017)." She earned a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for her work in Unlocking Autism that involved fostering state and local governmental partnerships to help meet the needs of the autism community (Read more at Dignity Memorial Obituary).

Autism Research Institute: In her work at the Autism Research Institute, Nancy Herndon Cale answered calls at their hotline and served as an administrative assistant for conference planning.

Nancy Cale once said this about how the call center brought added purpose to her life:
I am humbled each and every day by the depth of the needs and concerns of those who call searching for help for their loved ones with autism. I am happy knowing the generous heart of our community makes it possible to assure new parents, parents facing new struggles, and adults looking for help. Bless you all who take time to reach out to others as we work to make life better for those who ask for our help (Read more at Autism Research Institute: Remembering Nancy Cale).
Nancy was indeed so dedicated to the work of the autism hotline call center, she continued to answer phone calls for Autism Research Institute up until the very day she was admitted to the hospital in August 2017 (Read more at Dignity Memorial Obituary).

We remember Nancy Herndon Cale for her efforts to counsel and provide community resources for families that struggle with autism. Her legacy is that of an autism grandmother who determined to do what she could to shine a light for autism. Her grandson Wynn Johnson can be very proud of his grandmother. His autism diagnosis spurred Nancy Herndon Cale to begin the great work she did. May Nancy Herndon Cale's example as an autism grandmother encourage others to make a difference for autism.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Montana Lights

The State of Montana is the home of 3 Autism Lights. The Montana group includes two individuals with autism and a school for autism.

Montana Autism Lights

  • Alexis Wineman has autism and she was Miss Montana in 2012, making her the first winner with autism in the history of the Miss America pageant. She is from Cut Bank, Montana
  • Thomas Russell is an artist who has autism. He is from Laurel, Montana
  • Sense-Ability School for Autism was founded in September 2017 and is the first private school for autism in the State of Montana. It is located in Great Falls, Montana. 

You may reach all these posts by searching the blog through the "Montana" Label.

Image Attribution: By TUBS - Own workThis vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator.This file was uploaded with Commonist.This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Usa edcp location map.svg (by Uwe Dedering).This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  USA Hawaii location map.svg (by NordNordWest).This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Canada location map.svg (by Yug)., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Caddie the Dog

Autism Light #460 is Caddie the Dog.

Caddie is a Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever mix dog who lives in Newquay in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. Caddie is a therapy dog for a 13 year old boy with autism named Joel Sayer. Caddie is an Autism Light for having a positive impact in improving Joel's journey with autism. In 2017, Caddie was a finalist in the Crufts hero dog competition by Eukanuba.

The following is the YouTube video made about Joel and Caddie in the Eukanuba Friends for Life hero dog competition in 2017.

Caddie helps Joel with a variety of everyday tasks and provides an anchor for his day to day experiences that can sometimes be frightening to a teenager with autism. Joel's mother Janet said about the intervention skills of Caddie that, "When Joel can't cope, he paces around, but Caddie will nudge him, Joel will start stroking him and he'll come back into our world (As quoted by Emma Cox,, March 8, 2018)."

Dogs for Good: Through the sharing of their amazing life story Joel and Caddie are encouraging people throughout the United Kingdom to support the charity Dogs for Good. Their efforts have raised over 32,000 pounds to enable other individuals with autism to obtain a therapy dog like Caddie. Joel said, "Fundraising is great, especially when it's for someone who helped you. It's the best way of saying thank you (As quoted by Emma Cox,, March 8, 2018)."

Caddie will be added to the Autism Light Animal Page today. Caddie is a fine example of a dog who is making a difference through a therapeutic and loving relationship with a young person with autism. We wish Joel and Caddie the best in the future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mike Iaconelli

Autism Light #459 is Mike Iaconelli.

Mike Iaconelli is a professional bass fisherman (BASS Elite Series angler), television personality, and podcast show host from Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey. He was born on June 17, 1972. He and his wife Becky have four children. Mike Iaconelli, whose nickname is Ike, is an Autism Light because of his concern to raise awareness for autism. He becomes the first professional fisherman to appear on Autism Light. His name will be placed today on the Autism Light Sports Page, along with other athletes that have been recognized through the years.

In November 2009, Mike Iaconelli cut off his famous beard and he sold it on eBay with the proceeds going to the New England Center for Children, a school for autism in Southborough, Massachusetts. See Ike Auctions Off His Lucky Beard on eBay for Autism Charity for more information on this charitable news.

The following is a YouTube video where Mike Iaconelli explains about his lucky beard helping an auction charity.

Fishin' with a Mission: The auction Mike Iaconelli did to benefit autism was utilized to further the efforts of the Fishin' with a Mission decal program that is led by Eli Delany. More information on this autism awareness initiative of Fishin' with a Mission is at

Television Show: In 2017, Mike Iaconelli started the Going Ike television series on the Pursuit Channel.

Wikipedia: Visit the Michael Iaconelli Wikipedia Page for more information on this Autism Light.

Social Media: For more information on Michael Iaconelli, follow him at these social media channels.
Special thanks to Michael Iaconelli for helping the New England Center for Children and for raising awareness for autism. Hopefully this action will encourage other celebrities to help relieve some of the financial needs that autism agencies have.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Jason Hague

Autism Light #458 is Jason Hague.

Jason Hague is an autism father, husband, Christian pastor, storyteller, and writer. Jason and his wife Sara have five children, including a 12 year old son Jackson who has autism. Jason is an Associate Pastor at Christ's Church, an independent, non-denominational Christian church in Junction City, Oregon. Jason Hague is an Autism Light for raising autism awareness through his personal sharing of his life online from the honest heart of an autism father.

The following is a poem Jason wrote for his son Jackson which he recites in this video on his YouTube Channel. The version of this video on Facebook went viral and has received 3 million views and counting.

Blogger: One of the best ways to get to know Jason Hague and his life as an autism father in an up close way is to read through his blog posts located at He wrote a special post on February 6, 2018, called "A Letter to My Autistic Son on His 12th Birthday".  The blog also has letters Jason wrote to Jackson at his various birthdays over the years when he was a growing child.

Jason Hague's blog reveals his emotions as a father that captures the feelings that many autism fathers experience like in this paragraph:
"I often feel the old tug of despair on my sleeve, and the temptation to let it wash over me like it use to: Jack's anguish; his future; our lack of connection. It still gets the best of me from time to time. But on this occasion, the sadness didn't win. It couldn't win. Not after what happened the day before." [Jason Hague, "Let this Carry You", April 26, 2017]
Author: Jason Hague has written a book that will be available in October 2018, about his journey as an autism father for the last five years. It is called Aching Joy: Following God Through the Land of Unanswered Prayer. The subtitle underscores how important faith is in Jason's life, especially in coping with autism.

Social Media: For more information on Jason Hague, follow him at these social media channels.

Special thanks to Jason Hague for being an Autism Light. His storytelling and sharing about autism from the perspective of a father and Christian is a valuable contribution to the autism community. It takes these diverse stories in society to provide living resources to help our world understand more about autism and learn to accept the individuals living with it. We wish Jason Hague all the best in his journey as an autism father and look forward to reading about his blessed family in his blog and writings in the months and years to come.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.