“I am a mom on a mission to raise awarenes providing resources and hope to those on this same journey. I was in denial for many years, but prayed for a miracle. The miracle that took place was the transformation of my own heart. I finally realized my son didn’t need a cure; he just needed tools for success to function responsibly in society. When I accepted my son’s diagnosis, doors started opening because I started opening those doors.” -Lori Ciccarelli Stotko, mother to 26-year-old JJ.
Over the past few decades, Lori has been approached to share her experiences, resources and expertise with other families and professionals. She believes she is an advocate for autism and her responsibility to support other families. “Why reinvent the wheel? If these therapies and tools worked for us, maybe they can help others.” She shares successful tools in her film, JJ’s Journey, a Journey about Autism. Lori had no film experience, but was determined. It took her three years to complete this project and released her film in 2008. The CDC reports that 1 in 68 is being diagnosed with autism. “I am concerned that our country is not prepared for our kids entering adulthood.” Lori understands the importance of autism awareness and wants to help make a difference.
Through this riveting documentary film, experience the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of JJ focusing on autism awareness, education, tolerance, gifts and talents, the spiritual journey, and an awakening through treatments like neurofeedback therapy. Because autism is a locked-in disorder, watch how JJ’s brain is unlocked. He was on medications for 10 years; JJ has been medication-free since 2006. “Since intolerance has been the hardest part of our journey, I want to help educate society.” School districts around the country are using JJ’s Journey to address issues on tolerance in addition to universities using the film as part of the autism curriculum for special education credentialing programs.
JJ’s Journey was nominated for the 2009 Autism Society of America Media Excellence Award and being showcased around the world as the Official Selection for various international film festivals. Lori and JJ have been featured on NBC and touted by Oprah as “Ambassadors of Hope” on Oprah’s Angel Network.
JJ graduated Point Loma Nazarene University 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design – concentration in Illustration and a minor in Writing. He is employed with a marketing firm as a video game content writer in which he has had many articles published. He hopes to write and illustrate graphic novels some day.
Lori served an appointed seat on the California State Council of Developmental Disabilities Board of Directors from 2011 – 2015. She is earning a Master’s degree in Leadership; and is certified in Spiritual Direction, Leadership and Formation. Visit her blogs as a featured writer for Special-ism.com.
JJ’s Graduation Speech (this clip is not in the documentary as the film was released before JJ graduated from high school)
If you would like to view the trailer of JJ’s Journey, click here.