4 years in the past, Miguel Figueroa tried to push his now 13-year-old daughter, Illiana, to start out her personal YouTube channel, just like those she adored a lot.
Her response left him confused.
“She mentioned she could not do it as a result of she had autism,” Miguel Figueroa advised Fox Information. “As a mum or dad, it form of broke my coronary heart as a result of it was the very last thing I used to be anticipating her to say.”
Realizing this, he reworked his “man cave” into what would change into the Toy Quest101, a YouTube channel devoted to reviewing popular culture whereas additionally empowering different kids like Illiana Figueroa to attain their targets regardless of what obstacles they might face.
“Our imaginative and prescient is to convey consciousness and promote a tradition of acceptance the place all children with autism and particular wants might be empowered to do what they set their thoughts to,” the Youtube channel description reads.
After her stunning response, Miguel Figueroa instantly arrange the stage for his or her present. He introduced his daughter downstairs and recalled telling her that if it comes out effectively, they’re placing it up.
“She was extra excited than anything,” he mentioned.
What he did not count on was to see a right away change in his daughter in that very first episode in 2017.
“Illiana was speaking extra, partaking extra, finishing her sentences, making an attempt to pronounce phrases,” he mentioned. “Lot of issues that we struggled with rising up with autism.”
He additionally observed a “large change in her pleasure degree and her engagement and her eager to form of come out of her shell.”
Miguel Figueroa and his spouse checked out each other and realized that these movies might have the potential to indicate different kids which may have self-doubt “that their incapacity is just not a roadblock to engaging in a dream or want.”
Now, greater than 118,000 folks comply with the father-daughter duo as they evaluation new toys and unbox new statues, in some circumstances alongside movie star visitors.
In complete, they have already got over 55 million views. However extra importantly, on this four-year span, Illiana Figueroa has change into an advocate for teenagers with autism, her father mentioned.
They even have dad and mom reaching out from everywhere in the world in search of recommendation to assist encourage their very own kids who could also be confronted with related obstacles to interrupt out of their shells.
“They’ve children which are perhaps non-verbal or they’ve children that need to be on YouTube or seeking to do different issues, however they only want encouragement or recommendation,” Miguel Figueroa mentioned.
Typically the dad and mom attain out simply to know that they are not alone, he added.
His daughter’s affect was made much more obvious when the Figueroas traveled to a comic book e-book occasion in New Jersey shortly after their YouTube channel kicked off.
Miguel Figueroa recalled operating into a bit of lady and her mother who had traveled three hours simply to fulfill the folks behind ToyQuest101.
Miguel Figueroa recalled the girl explaining how her daughter watches their present as a result of she additionally has autism and might relate to Illiana Figueroa.
“It offers me goosebumps as a result of irrespective of what number of subscribers we now have, irrespective of if we now have 55 million views, if we might influence only one individual and even when it was that little lady, that is what issues probably the most,” Miguel Figueroa mentioned.