In 2013, we were impressed again and again by the achievements of members of our autism community! Among the highlights were Ethan Walmark, who gained fame as "The Piano Man"; WrongPlanet.com Founder Alex Plank, who started consulting for FX's hit show "The Bridge"; and Autism Speaks Staffer Kerry Magro, who published his first book! The talent has been off the charts this year! Here's a look at 10 more individuals with autism who shined in 2013! This list is based on popular content published on our web site this year.
Daniel is the author of www.ImproveYourSocialSkills.com, a comprehensive online guide to social skills. After receiving his Asperger's diagnosis, he embarked on a journey of social skills improvement. Today, he works as a social skills coach to share what he learned with others. This year, the renowned speaker also gave a TEDx talk at The University of Arizona.
Christopher, a young boy on the autism spectrum who is also blind, is a skilled singer. This year he received a standing ovation for his performance of "Lean On Me" at our "Winter Ball for Autism," hosted by Autism Speaks and New York Collaborates for Autism (NYCA). Christopher also performed earlier this year as part of our "Cruise Night for Autism Speaks" event.
Marvin, who is a diehard NY Jets fan, has a passion for playing the drums. When he attended a Jets game this fall, he brought his drum with him and played an impromptu performance with the Jets Aviators Drumline! This led to The Jets inviting him back to perform with their drumline during one of their games against the Miami Dolphins later in the season.
Jacob started performing with his piano when he was 3 years old. Now at 6 he is considered a piano prodigy and performs across the country. He has performed on Good Morning America and currently is raising funds for his debut album slated for 2014.
5. Evan Angert
Evan has overcome countless obstacles in his life. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Evan graduated this year from Northwest High School. To top that all off he was selected by faculty to give the commencement speech in front of 3,000 people! He hopes to be there for others on the spectrum in the future to help them "reach for the stars."
Isaac, who is 8 years old and nonverbal, has found his voice through Disney songs. One day during school he started singing and humming along to the song "Beauty and the Beast." They then tried the song "A Whole New World" and Isaac got hooked. The YouTube video of him singing became a viral sensation.
7. Andrew Duff
In an effort to gain a further understanding of the story of autism, as well as himself, Andrew currently works as a Production Assistant at Autism Speaks. He is also currently attached to Square Peg Round Hole, as an actor and contributor, and hopes to pursue acting and writing as a career in the future.
Anthony, a football placekicker at Brick Township High School in New Jersey, kicked a game-winning field goal last season that garnered national attention. Anthony was highlighted on ESPN in a video called "The Kick of Hope". This year Anthony returned to Brick Township and was granted an unprecedented fifth year of athletic eligibility by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Anthony wound up making history. He and his fellow Green Dragons went on to win the 2013 State Championship 26-15, with Anthony contributing points from two successful field goal attempts.
Alexis, who was named Miss Montana in 2012, participated in the 2013 Miss America Pageant, the first individual with autism in history to receive this honor. Diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), her road to the crown was very difficult. Alexis finished in the top 15 in the competition and won the "America's Choice Award" for receiving the most online votes. Today, Alexis remains active in motivational speaking and is planning on college.
Rio “Soulshocka" Wyles, a promising 21-year-old rapper who is on the autism spectrum, collaborated with the popular musical duo Timeflies and Adrienne Bailon from 3LW and the Cheetah Girls for a recording session at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio this year in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
What do you think of our list? Did we miss anyone you think should have been included? Tell us in the comments!