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Ten inspiring stories about people with autism in 2016

December 20, 2016

This year has been incredible for the growth of understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and those affected by it. We are counting down some of the most inspiring stories from the autism community in 2016.

Watch this once nonverbal girl sing a duet with her mom

Autism advocate and mom Amy Kelly gets emotional when she reflects on just how far her incredible daughter with autism has come. She recently started speaking. Watch her story above. 

FSU player sits with boy with autism who was eating alone

This story of Florida State University football player Travis Rudlph sitting with a six-grader with autism who was eating in the cafeteria alone went viral on our Facebook page.

Click the photo above to read more about this heartwarming moment.

Aging with autism: A brother’s story

Author Eli Gottlieb shared with us his story about his brother, Josh, who has autism and lives on an assisted living campus. Josh, now 60 years old, has been a resident of various state and private run programs for individuals on the autism spectrum for nearly 50 years. When their mother passed away a few years ago, Eli became Josh's sole guardian. Read more about their story here.

Mall Santa gets out of his seat for boy with autism

On November 20, 2016 at South Park Mall in Charolotte, N.C. Erin and Daniel Deely captured a special moment between their son Brayden and Santa Claus. Brayden is on the autism spectrum and for kids and adults with autism, malls can be overwhelming places. For this reason, Autism Speaks partnered with the Noerr Programs Corporation again this year on their Sensory-Friendly Santa programs! Caring Santa (a partnership with SIMON Malls), Santa Cares and Sensitive Santa (a partnership with Washington Prime Group Malls) all provide families that have children with autism and other special needs with the opportunity to connect with Santa in a special way!

Read more about their story here.

Target hosted quiet shopping event for those on the autism spectrum

A story about a Target in Lancaster, Pennsylvania holding a 2-hour event for children with autism went viral. A spokesperson from Target told The Mighty “We don’t have plans to roll these events out company-wide, but are always looking for new ways to further enhance our guests’ shopping experience.”

Read more about their story here.

Toys R Us to offer quiet shopping hour for children with autism

Branches of Toys “R” Us across the UK held ‘quiet hour’ events in early November so children with autism and their families could do their holiday shopping. This later led to a US Toys “R” Us following suit.

Read more about their story here.

Ford announces job training program for people with autism

Ford Motor Company announced that this year that it would begin a pilot program to help train individuals with autism in the workplace. The company created five new positions within their product development organization specifically for the program, FordInclusiveWorks, which is in partnership with the Autism Alliance of Michigan.

Read more about their story here.

Ellen Makes a Dream Come True for Dancing Barista With Autism From Viral Video

Sam Forbes, a 17-year-old high school student with autism from Toronto, Canada, went viral when a video of him dancing at his job as a Starbucks barista went open on YouTube. His story even reached Ellen DeGeneres who had him on her show.

Read more about his story here

Netflix Is Getting a New Original Series About Autism

Netflix picked up a new original comedy series called, “Atypical” about a teenage boy who’s on the autism spectrum.  The eight episode series will star Keir Gilchrist as Sam and Jennifer Jason Leigh as his mother. A release date has not been provided yet as they are currently in production.

Read more about their story here.

Rising Tide Car Wash is hiring people on the autism spectrum

Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Florida, are employing adults on the spectrum! The small business has been featured in Autism Speaks' “Advancing the Role and Impact of Small Businesses in Employing Adults with Autism” initiative and a few years ago accepted the Autism Awareness Award at Miami's Autism Speaks Walk.

Watch their story above.