Joel Anderson

Diagnosed with Autism at the age of three has not slowed Joel down. He has persevered through all the hard work of being the best he can be. In 2009, Joel graduated from high school with his diploma in hand! Currently he is taking classes in college toward a degree in animation. His dream is to make child friendly movies and animated books teaching good character qualities. His dream was to have his art shown in New York City and Hollywood, and that came true in 2011!

Joel’s art has been seen in China, Japan, Africa, Australia, Canada, and across the USA.

Joel has a passion for sharing about Autism Awareness and How to be a Friend to kids and adults with special needs. His desire is to encourage and support kids with autism all over the world. The Autism Tree Project Foundation family has been a life changing catalyst for Joel since 2003. With their support, Joel has spoken to thousands, from elementary school kids up through high school, universities and corporations like SDG&E Sempra Utilities. He has appeared on many news and radio stations and shared the stage with autism supporters Lorenzo Neal, James Lights Out Tony, Adrian Gonzalez, Kyle Negrete, Doug Flutie and many others. His art is published in several books and in a documentary film.

In October 2010, Joel received the Inaugural International Naturally Autistic People Award for his Community Service. The ceremony was in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. There he met many wonderful new friends from around the world.  For the 2011 ANCA Awards Ceremony, Joel was honored to be one of the hosts, and represent the United States of America, he also sang, held an art workshop and displayed his art. In 2012, Joel is an International Ambassador for ANCA alongside Dr. Temple Grandin.

Joel Anderson is a sought after and seasoned assembly speaker. Joel encourages students from kindergarten to college.  His unique perspective and direct manner captures students’ attention immediately.  He explains what it feels like to have autism.  Students listen with rapt attention to his multi-sensory presentation including firsthand testimonial, interactive art, singing in unison, and narrating the books he’s written and illustrated.  He is always willing to answer any questions the students may have.

Joel encourages students to make a friend by being a friend, to have courage and not be afraid of bullies, and to stick up for someone in need. Joel shares how everyone has a purpose and encourages students to follow their dream. Whether for Ability Awareness or at other times in the school year, Joel’s example inspires all ages.

Find out more about Joel at

The Making of “Joel and Reid in the Word”

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