10 year girl Kaylee Rodgers from Ireland singing ‘Hallelujah’

10 year old Kaylee Rodgers who has autism and ADHD has wowed the world with her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. The video of Kaylee singing with the Killard House Special School’s choir has gone viral. Colin Millar, the school’s headteacher, told BBC News that Kaylee is often shy but when she sings, she just opens up. Check out the video:

Killard House Special School choir singing Hallelujah

What ‘Finding Dory’ Taught Me as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

Check out Erin Clemen’s blog post over at The Mighty website:  What ‘Finding Dory’ Taught Me as Someone on the Autism Spectrum.

‘In a Different Key: The Story of Autism,’ by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

‘In a Different Key: The Story of Autism,’ by John Donvan and Caren Zucker is a new book that tells the story of Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi who became the first child diagnosed with autism nearly seventy-five years ago.

“Magnificent…Spellbinding—a fable about greed, power and betrayal told through the lens of autism…Chock-full of suspense and hairpin turns…This book does what no other on autism has done: capture all the slippery, bewildering and deceptive aspects…I have been the mother of an autistic son since 1988…I wept and laughed and raged while reading In a Different Key, all the while thinking, Yes! This is my experience, including the raw and dirty parts, but also the wonder and joy.” –Ann Bauer, Washington Post

Read book excerpt here:

‘In a Different Key: The Story of Autism,’ by John Donvan and Caren Zucker
New York Times Sunday Book Review

‘In A Different Key’ Traces History And Politics Of Autism

Your Dollars@Work: One Family’s Toilet Training Miracle

Amy Kelly and family

Amy Kelly and family

A mom shares a life-changing insight followed by expert care, thanks to the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network. Read about it over on their blog.

Businessman Befriends Autistic Girl on Flight, Makes Everyone’s Day

Shanell Mouland and Kate

Shanell Mouland and Kate (Photo courtesy of Shanell Mouland)

The mother of an autistic toddler, whose open letter to a kind stranger she sat next to on a plane made headlines, has reconnected with the man who made her daughter smile during a two-and-a-half-hour flight. Read about this heartwarming story at: http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/businessman-befriends-autistic-girl-flight-makes-everyone-39-235300300.html

Cheerleader with Down Syndrome Stars in Finalist Video for GMA’s Katy Perry ‘Roar’ Contest


Arizona’s Verrado High School entry into the Good Morning America/Katy Perry Roar contest has gone viral, in part because of one special cheerleader. The instructions for the “Good Morning America” Katy Perry music video contest were simple: Students had to submit a music video for Perry’s song “Roar” featuring fellow students up to two minutes long by Oct. 1.

Perry will perform a concert at the winning school on Oct. 25, which also will be broadcast on “Good Morning America.”

The High School’s video tells the story of 18-year-old senior Megan Squire who was born with Down syndrome. Squire has been on the cheerleading team for four years and is now on the varsity squad. The video re-enacts Squire’s attempt to get on the team.

See the video on YouTube.

WHYY’s program “Voices in the Family”


Listen as the host of the public radio program “Voices in the Family” Dr. Dan Gottlieb discusses how families of children with autism navigate an often challenging and emotional journey. His guests include Robert Naseef and Eustacia Cutler, mother of noted child with autism, author and speaker, Temple Grandin.

2nd Annual Community of Hope Award recipients

The recipients of this year’s “Community of Hope Award” will be Frank and Colleen Foti.


Frank and Colleen Foti are parents to Tom, 22 and Brian, 20.  In 1995, Brian was diagnosed with classic autism and mental retardation. Through their family’s highs and lows, they have been steadfast in their passion, determination and, at times, humor. Frank and Colleen founded AALIVE, a 501c (3) non-profit whose mission is to create social and awareness opportunities to and for individuals with special needs.  Five years after its conception, AALIVE (Adults With Autism: Living with Independence, Value and Esteem) has provided thousands of awareness and social events for individuals and families with special needs in the greater Philadelphia area, and has raised more than $250,000 to continue providing opportunities for continued learning and happiness.

Autism and Our First Toothache

Amy Kelly is the Director of Family Supports and Services for Devereux Pennsylvania’s Community Services division. She recently shared a story about her daughter’s first toothache.

As any of you who have heard me speak about my daughter Annie in one of my family trainings knows, I often talk about the ‘silver linings’ of autism… my saying before the movie even came out this year! Since last April, Autism Awareness Month, once again our year has proven to be nothing short of small everyday miracles and plenty of challenges. Annie is now 11 years old, and her brothers Danny and Ryan are 12 and 9. Annie can now say “Rynan”, and waits for him every day after his 3rd grade school day to give him a hug and kiss. This is new since last year, and a very big deal. Also what is new is Annie’s ability and desire to express herself and communicate her feelings more effectively. She still must use her iPad since her speech approximations aren’t clear, but she now tells me when she is sad on her iPad, or when she will “C-R-Y” as she puts it in her spelling attempts at speech. She even saw Mr. Kreider at her school, Devereux CARES, and walked right up to him and spelled “M-O-M W-O-R-K”. Perhaps she thinks I’m the boss?? [Note: Mr. Kreider is Devereux’s CEO.]

Recently I had an amazing ‘silver lining’ experience with Annie. She and I were sitting on my couch and she had been complaining of a toothache in her bottom back tooth for a few days by pointing to it, using my hand and putting it on that part of her chin and saying “boo-boo”. Now I must preface this story in that little Miss Annie does NOT like the dentist, even though we have the most wonderful and patient pediatric dentist, Dr. Jeff. She had her first teeth-cleaning only two years ago when I had to have her sedated in a hospital because of her severe anxiety and fears of the dentist. We can’t even drive into the driveway to the dentist without her crying.

So… Annie and I were sitting together having a conversation on her iPad and she types into her iPad “dentist. Dr. Jeff”. Usually her messages say “NO dentist” or “NO Dr. Jeff”. I said “Annie, are you telling me you need a dentist? Does your tooth hurt?” She answered a “yeah”. I said “Do you want to go see Dr. Jeff tomorrow? Mama can call and take you to see him if you really have a tooth ache.” She again said “yeah”. I said “Ok Annie. I will call Dr. Jeff tomorrow and take you to see him. But you have to let him look at your sore tooth to make it feel better. Ok?” Annie answered “Ok” (That’s another new verbal response this year!)

The next day I quietly texted Annie’s teacher at school and asked her to ask Annie if her tooth hurt and if she said yes, to point to which one was bothering her. Sure enough Annie told her yes and pointed to the same tooth. I called Dr. Jeff’s office and they kindly squeezed Annie in, knowing they would need extra time. I picked Annie up from school and she was quite happy, knowing that we were going in Mama’s car. I ran through the scenario again with her to prepare her for what was to come: “Annie, we are going to go see Dr. Jeff for your sore tooth like you asked Mama yesterday. He needs to look at that sore tooth. That’s the only thing he has to look at – no teeth cleaning, nothing else, but you have to let him look at the sore tooth, ok?”. Annie answered “ok”. I had my doubts.

We drove to the dentist office and there was NO crying as we pulled in. I was surprised at how quiet and content she was. We got out of the car and she held my hand and walked in with me, with no real hesitation. I kept watching her for a reaction and there was none. They expected us at the office so took us right back. Annie preferred not to sit in the dentist patient chair, so she sat on the bench that I usually sit in. No big deal. I just couldn’t believe she was so calm and at ease. Dr. Jeff came in and her eyes widened a little bit…. I said “Annie, remember, Dr. Jeff needs to check your sore tooth. Can you show him your sore tooth?” She quickly opened her mouth and pointed to it, but then immediately shut it again. Dr. Jeff and I gently coaxed her into opening it for longer so he could get a better look at it since it was all the way in the back…me modeling “Ahhhhhh” with a big wide mouth open the whole time. Sure enough, Annie was getting her 12 year old molars and there was a small infection around her gums! Dr. Jeff said “Annie….you’re right! You do have a sore tooth, because you are getting new teeth back there. Great job telling Mom, and great job letting me look at them!” He asked for a hi-five and she proceeded to give him THREE hi-fives, she was so proud of herself. The dental hygienist then offered her the reward toy basket and Annie carefully picked what to me, seemed like the oddest thing out of it. She insisted that I open it right away. I did, and she put it on immediately….and wore it the whole way out of the office. Who knew I was raising such a comedian… and such a brave little girl.

Happy Autism Awareness Month!! — Amy and Annie


AIR – Helping Families Soar

People Magazine spotlights Pediatrician Wendy Ross. Dr. Ross, founder of Autism Inclusion Resources (AIR) has worked with clinicians and airlines to develop an air-travel program at Philadelphia International Airport. The “Airport Autism Access Program” lets kids with autism practice everything from check-in and security screening to boarding a mock flight.

Read about Devereux parent Amy Kelly’s experience with her daughter Annie.

Annie's First Flight

Annie’s First Flight