Friday, May 10, 2019

Brian Schnelle

Autism Light #470 is Brian Schnelle.

Brian Schnelle is a 31 year old man from the Old Hickory area of Nashville, Tennessee, who has autism. Brian spent 12 years as a student at Trevecca Nazarene University, and in May 2019 graduated with honors with a bachelor's degree in sports management. Brian Schnelle is an Autism Light because his perseverance in college serves as an inspiration to other autism families.

Annual Award Established at Trevecca: "Brian's perseverance inspired the administrators and teachers in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science to establish an annual award in his honor. Brian was the first recipient of the Brian Schnelle Perseverance Award (Tennessean, Jessica Bliss, May 10, 2019)."

The following is a video about Brian Schnelle's experience in college and his graduation. 

Brian's parents Jeff and Jane Schnelle were his foster parents when he was 1, and formally adopted him when he was 3. At age 7 he was diagnosed with autism. Despite needing the ongoing care of his parents to this day in many elements of his life, Brian loves to study. Jeff Schnelle attended almost every day of college with his son, because Brian lived at home and couldn't drive himself to school. Brian's dad would sit in the back of the classes he was taking.

Jeff Schnelle said this word of encouragement for autism parents. "There's a lot of people who are struggling with a loved one on the spectrum, and they're not sure what's going to happen next or how they are going to cope. You do learn to live day-by-day, you don't look too far into the future...There are days when you are not sure you're going to get through it. When you're not seeing the progress you want to see. But then you look back and you think, 'Wow, this is remarkable. he's done so much (As quoted by Jessica Bliss, Trevecca student with autism graduates after 12 years, Tennessean, May 10, 2019)."
Brian received support in college at Trevecca's Center for Leadership, Service and Calling, where he independently took all his tests in a comfortable environment. His accommodations included giving a few weeks advance notice on the due date of papers from his professors so that he could write a small amount each day toward the paper. While he received supports, Brian had to do all his own work toward his degree, which meant to be successful he had to work at it for 12 years and concentrate on completing a few classes each year toward his program.

For more information on Brian Schnelle please see the following articles:
Special thanks to Brian Schnelle for being an Autism Light. His experience in college inspires other students with autism. We wish Brian Schnelle all the best in the next chapter of his life and hope he inspires other young people to go to college, even if it takes more than the traditional 4 years to complete their goal. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Xena Hickey

Autism Light #469 is Xena Hickey, The Warrior Puppy.

Xena the Warrior Puppy is a Pitbull dog who lives in Johns Creek, Georgia. Xena was a severely abused rescue dog adopted from the Dekalb Animal Services, who over the past 6 years has been a therapy dog for a now 14 year old boy with autism named Jonny Hickey. Xena is an Autism Light for having a positive impact in improving Jonny's journey with autism. Xena won the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Dog of the Year Award in 2013. Xena and Jonny have their own 501c3 non-profit and over the past six years have been raising awareness for autism and the prevention of animal cruelty.

The following video tells the story of Xena and Jonny Hickey and was featured when Xena won the prestigious ASPCA Dog of the Year Award in 2013.

Xena arrived at the Dekalb Animal Services on September 25, 2012 and after months of physical rehabilitation was able to join Jonny's family on February 11, 2013, and officially adopted on March 25, 2013. Linda Hickey stated, "We've spent thousands of dollars on therapy, and I just said to myself that is the best therapy, standing, four-legs, in my family room (As quoted by, June 14, 2017)."

This video was made by Jonny to promote April as Autism Awareness Month and the prevention of Animal Cruelty Month.

Although this story was born six years ago, it is remarkable the difference Xena continues to make in Jonny's life and for others as they raise awareness of autism and animal cruelty. There next publicized event is a "Spread the Words" 5K Fun Run/Walk on October 29, 2019, to benefit the Special Needs Community and Animal Rescue.

If you wish to keep tabs on Xena visit her website at Xena the Warrior Puppy and check out her social media pages below. 

Xena will be added to the Autism Light Animal Page today. Xena is an inspiring example of a rescue dog who is making a difference in the life and development of a young person with autism. We wish Jonny and Xena all the best in the future.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.