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Autism Spectrum Award

The Els for Autism Spectrum Award honors an individual with autism spectrum disorder who has shined a positive light on autism through his/her character, positive attitude, and contribution.

The 2021 Autism Spectrum Award winner will be announced publicly by Sept. 31, 2021.

Award Qualifications

All nominees must:

  • Be an adult with autism spectrum disorder (age 18+).
  • Give consent for their nomination. We ask that you discuss your intended nomination with the nominee and/or their guardian and secure their consent for the nomination.
  • Be residents of the U.S. or Canada.
  • Have a valid passport

Nominee may:

  • Have demonstrated significant achievements in their own personal context.
  • Be an inspiration to other people with autism and a catalyst for helping people with autism fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive, and rewarding lives.
  • Be accomplished in any area of endeavor (arts, employment, community service, recreation, etc).

Employees of the Els for Autism Foundation and/or their immediate family members are not eligible to participate.

For more information please contact:

Contact: Trudi Zayac, MSW/MA
Director of Adult Services
Phone: 561-320-9521

Prize Package

The winner of the 2021 Autism Spectrum Award will receive a specially engraved award to commemorate the achievement. They will also be invited to the 10th Annual Els for Autism 2020/2021 Golf Challenge Grand Finale in Nassau, Bahamas.

View the full prize package here.

Submit A Nomination


Nominations are no longer accepted at this time.


Previous Winners

2020 Winner – Jim Hogan

Jim Hogan | La Jolla, CA

Jim Hogan is an advocate for change and a strong representative of what is possible for people on the spectrum. A self-taught Computer Scientist at the age of 16, Jim found his passion working in leadership positions in Corporate America. Throughout his career, he has engaged in advocacy and supported HR departments to better understand the needs of neurodiverse employees.

Jim has willingly taken on the role of peer mentor and support to many young professionals with autism who are struggling to enter the workforce. With his powerful voice and advocacy for change and acceptance, he has led the way for hundreds of professionals with autism who entered the workforce behind him. Jim currently works as an Innovation Strategist at Google.

2019 Winner – Haley Moss

We are pleased to introduce the 2019 Autism Spectrum Award winner, Haley Moss!

“Haley has not only defied the odds by accomplishing her creative and educational goals but is a tireless advocate for every person on the spectrum,”  Haley’s friend and fellow autism advocate said.

Haley Moss was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and is an associate attorney at Zumpano Patricios in Coral Gables, Florida. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2018 and graduated from the University of Florida in 2015 with Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Criminology.

She is a renowned visual pop artist and the author of “Middle School: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About” and “A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About.” She also illustrated and contributed to the anthology “What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew.” Her writing has been featured in publications such as HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Bustle, Elite Daily, and The Mighty. Haley also co-hosts the “Spectrumly Speaking” podcast, which is dedicated to women on the autism spectrum.

Haley currently serves on the constituency board for the University of Miami – Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and the Board of Directors for Different Brains. She previously served on the board of Unicorn Village Academy.

2018 Winner – Adam Jones

Adam Jones believes everyone deserves a chance.  Diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, growing up he had a difficult time communicating and engaging in society.  At the age of 17, Adam found his passion while watching the move Seabiscuit which lead him to pursue his calling – working with horses and with people on the autism spectrum.

Today, employed full-time as a Barn Attendant at Madison Fields in Dickerson, MD, Adam is an advocate for employing adults on the autism spectrum and contributes to his community towards autism awareness.  He believes that people like him deserve a fighting chance and a way to find their true sense of self-worth.  Working with horses has helped him to be a role model for others as he is passionate, serious, and takes tremendous pride in his work.  “When people on the autism spectrum see me handling these huge animals,” Adam said, “they think, I can handle it too!”

2017 Winner – Rachel Barcellona

2017 Els for Autism Spectrum Award Winner

Rachel Barcellona is a compelling advocate for people with disabilities.  Currently, Rachel is the international spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of South Florida and was recently elected to their executive board of directors.  She was named ambassador for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation and works with this international organization to help people with neurodiversity.

Rachel has won the titles of:

  • Miss Largo’s Outstanding Teen in 2014
  • Miss Florida Collegiate in 2015
  • Miss Florida International in 2016
  • Miss Southeast International 2017

She is a member of the International Thespian Honor Society and is an honor student and vocalist who loves sing opera.  Congratulations to Rachel Barcellona the 2017 recipient of the Els Autism Spectrum Award!

2016 Winner – Gloria Mendoza

Gloria Mendoza is the 2016 Spectrum Winner. She is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. She holds degrees in both Computer Science and Music. Gloria currently works in SAP’s Premium Engagements Organization.

As a toddler, Gloria struggled with communication skills but excelled in musical abilities. She sang all of the time and demonstrated a very keen interest in all types of music. Her grandmother was a concert pianist so her mother enrolled her in piano and voice lessons at the age of 7. To the surprise of the piano teacher, he discovered that she could easily sight-read music with no previous training. He also discovered that she had perfect pitch.

Gloria was selected to be part of an Early Talent Program (as a full-time employee) within SAP’s Premium Engagements Team. Together with nine other early talents, she embarked on the journey of being certified on the newest technologies. She has motivated the rest of the team to raise the bar and drive a highly collaborative environment where everyone understands and feels the importance of diversity and inclusiveness.


2015 Winner –  Joshua Deer

Joshua Deer was the first recipient of the Spectrum Award in 2015. Former two-time MVP and Co-captain of his high school golf team, a promising golf instructor and one of the highest fundraisers in the Els for Autism Golf Challenge has ever enjoyed, Joshua Deer, known as “Deersey” to his friends, exemplifies excellence in character, attitude, and in his contribution helping others with autism.

For Josh, diagnosed with autism at age three, the game of golf has played a pivotal part in overcoming the various challenges that life has thrown in his path.

Joshua Deer and his father Andy, whom he credits with being the inspiration behind his passion for golf, teamed up to play in their first Els for Autism Golf Challenge event in 2014 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. That year thanks to some great fundraising, Team Deersey qualified for Las Vegas making Joshua the first individual on the spectrum to compete in the Golf Challenge’s Grand Finale event.

Joshua’s approach to life is infectiously positive. It was this demeanor, coupled with his passion for golf that prompted the Els for Autism team to invite Joshua to help coach at a couple of this year’s #GameOn Autism ™ Golf clinics.