Congratulations to all of our families participating in the United States of Autism film!
We would like to thank all the families that submitted applications to appear in the United States of Autism movie. Unfortunately, due to travel restraints, timing, and a myriad of other film related issues, we could only take certain families that had submitted those applications. This is only a partial list of those appearing in the film as we also have some special guests we met along the way!
To find out more about our participating families, please go through our alphabetical list below:
Tunde Brazlik is a Sunni Muslim with one child, Amin, on the spectrum. Confronting the intricate social pressures of immigrant families and autism, she, with her daughter Safiyya, maintains one of the only autism blogs for the muslim community and presents a bold and loving example to everyone she meets.
Lorette Brewster is a single African-American mom whose son, Deemy, just started speaking in his teen years. Disabled herself and unable to continue her profession as a nurse, her other unaffected children, Deemy’s twin Kerel, Lexi, and Deanna, give testament to the strength of the family to overcome all obstacles.
Liz and Chris Carotto have three boys, James, Joel, and Drew, each at a different point on the autism spectrum. Extremely active in their community, Liz is the president of Autism Spectrum Connections and operates the unique outreach program at Saturday’s Market, the largest flea market in Pennsylvania.
Evelyn and Clay Cox have two children, Parker, who is on the spectrum, and Akaila who is unaffected. The health aspects of autism affected Evelyn’s health as much as Parker’s, and the challenges of both nearly overwhelmed the family physically and financially. As members of the Mormon church, they have found a wonderful support system through their community.
Sharon daVanport is a single mom with two younger children, Ty, who is on the spectrum and a daughter Kylee who is unaffected. Herself diagnosed with Aspergers, she is the Executive Director of the Autism Women’s Network and was recently invited as one of three self-advocates to the White House for World Autism Awareness Day.
Barbara and Cesar Figueroa have three children, twins Erick who is affected and Alexis who is not, as well as Fabiola who is not. Without any services in their home territory of Puerto Rico, they quit their high-paying jobs, uprooted their entire family and spent their entire savings, to receive better services in the United States for their son.
Raymond and Helen Gallup have one son, Eric, who is on the spectrum. Now an adult, he resides in a residential facility after severe aggression threatened the lives of themselves and their daughter Julie. As prior independent fundraisers of Drs. Wakefield, Singh and Oleske, they continue to advocate for vaccine safety and review.
Shelley and Major Mark Huhtanen have two children, Broden who is on the spectrum, and Hayden, who is unaffected. A military family always on the move, Mark has deployed to Mosul and Baghdad while Shelley advocates as chair of the Exceptional Family Members Program for the largest Army installation in the United States.
Michele and Ralph Iallonardi have three boys, Jackson who is the oldest, and Bennett and Luca who are twins, each at a different point on the autism spectrum. You might remember their family from the Autism Speaks video “Autism Every Day“. Today, Michele serves on the board for the Nassau/Suffolk Autism Society of America, and they have a few surprises that heir life has taken in the last few years since the video came out.
Jinyoung Lee and Yongtai An have two children, Elvin, who is on the spectrum, and Alex who is not. Permanent residents of the United States, they speak Korean and Chinese in their home while negotiating the world of autism for their children.
Carrie and Luis Lopez have three children, Tony, who is on the spectrum, and Michael. Their daughter, Emily, created the Lemonade for Autism movement at the age of 5 in Los Angeles and now raises money for autism and the HollyRod Foundation throughout Malibu, Beverly Hills, and other parts of LA.
Holly and David Neibauer have twin daughters, Robyn, who is on the spectrum, and Kathryn, who is partially deaf. A former college professor turned ABA specialist, Holly now advocates for early intervention throughout the state while her husband teaches. Holly and David have known each other since 2nd grade.
Joseph and Rowena Quianzon have three children between the ages of 2 and 6. Their middle child, Noah, is affected. After receiving their diagnosis they have totally transformed their life using the The Son-Rise Program of the Autism Treatment Center of America. Joseph fundraises for autism with his Reggae band, keeps a blog called Father Warrior, and he and his wife Rowena founded the Autism Climber Foundation.
Alex Plank is the founder and maintainer of WrongPlanet.net, the largest website for the neuro-diversity movement for individuals affected by autism with over 35,000 members. An avid mountain-biker and filmmaker, he lectures around the nation on the topic and has been featured in numerous media interviews.
Ileana Reyes is a single Hispanic mom with one son, Izzy, on the spectrum. Balancing the needs of her other two children Dominic and Daniela with Izzy’s, she advocates for families who have children on the higher end of the spectrum and the unique difficulties they confront for the family unit.
Wayne and Robyne Rohde have twin boys, Nicholas and Austin, and Nicholas is the only child affected on the spectrum. Political activists, they have been pushing autism insurance reform in the state of Oklahoma for years despite heavy opposition, and Nick’s Law is named after their son.
Trish and Gary Washburn have two children, Buddy, who is on the spectrum, and Cecilia-Jane who may be affected. Trish serves on four separate government organizations for disabilities and is working with State Senators on passing the NY Autism Insurance bill, all the while balancing the needs of her children.
Tim and Cheri Welsh have one son, Tanner, who is on the Spectrum. A tireless advocate, Tim is one of the most active autism posters on Twitter where he tweets under the name TannersDad. He remembers the very spot and date he heard the last words come from his son’s mouth.
Linda and Mark Wessels have one child, Samuel, who is on the spectrum. Sitting in the political hotspot of the United States, Iowa, they have asked over half a dozen candidates personally on their views on autism, with Sam asking Senator McCain one during a Town Hall in the 2008 election. Sam himself has a platform for autism as well that he would like the world to know.
Crystal Worley is a single mom with two children, Sasha, who is on the spectrum, and Fallon who is unaffected. Overcoming her own incredible health issues while raising her family with the help of her 75 year old grandmother, she founded the first autism skateboarding foundation that helps children nationwide.