The Journey of Joey and Mieko Hester-Perez: Where Are They Now?
In 2011, we covered the story of an incredible and dedicated mother, Mieko Hester-Perez, and her son, Joey. Joey was diagnosed with a severe form of autism at 16 months old. You may have seen their journey featured on a number of shows such as NBC, CBS, ABC’s 20/20, and Vice Media, just to mention a few, as well as internationally in several countries. We wondered what was happening in their lives now, so we reached out to Mieko, and here is what we learned.
After co-founding Unconventional Foundation for Autism (UF4A.org), an informational site that is intended to raise awareness and support for families afflicted with autism spectrum, the modern day “warrior mom” didn’t stop there. Combining her 20 years of legal experience, 15 years of special education knowledge, and first-hand experience living with a loved one afflicted with autism, Mieko continues to give generously to the industry.
In 2012, Mieko received the Evelyn DuPont Award for improving the lives of children with autism. She also received special recognition from Congress for the many hours of community service and dedication she has given to helping families, autism organizations, universities, and healthcare professionals. Most recently, she was presented with the 2016 Lifetime Advocate Award at the Chalice Festival.
Her expertise in cannabis consulting with special needs families made her an ideal selection to sit on the board of NORML Women’s Alliance. She also sits on the Scientific Advisory Board for Cannabis Science, Inc., representing the voice for patient-centered focus regarding clinical decision.
In 2015, Mieko was placed on the Advisory Board for Acology Inc., and helped to create a custom, FDA-approved, child-resistant container to house Joey’s Strain. Joey’s Strain is a cannabis strain bred specifically for persons on the autism spectrum.
The Joey Network was unveiled in 2016, introducing a cannabis autism-focused app. The Joey Network app was created as an informational tool for families and medical professionals who have exhausted all other treatment options associated with treating autism symptoms.
This year, Mieko joined the World Cannabis Conference and Expo Abracadabs Festival, serving as the global community outreach program director. She also became the educational director at From The Earth Collective in California. In her role at From The Earth, Mieko walks families and physicians through the doors of collectives with safe access, knowledgeable staff, and products geared towards the special needs family patient base.
Mieko has also joined forces with Abigail Dar (an Israeli mom of three – Yuval, her oldest, is severely autistic and is treated successfully with medical cannabis after years of agony trying every anti-psychotic drug available) and Janie Maedler (a cannabis policy advocate who helped pass Rylie’s Law in Delaware which allows pediatric medical marijuana oil, and SB181 which allows pediatric MMJ on school property). Together they are currently participating in a funding campaign to make medical cannabis treatment accessible for children and adults with autism.
The goal of the campaign is to fund essential research to make autism spectrum a “qualifying condition” all around the world. Israel is a groundbreaking state in medical cannabis research, and Mieko says she supports the campaign and hopes to bring attention to the subject by sharing her professional and personal expertise. It is no wonder Mieko & Joey’s tagline is “It’s not a miracle. It’s science.”
Mieko and Joey are in this journey together, and Mieko feels blessed to have Joey as her son. It is what drives her every day. As for Joey, he is happier, healthier, more engaged – and in Mieko’s own words even “better behaved” – than ever before.
Mieko Hester-Perez is a Special Needs Advocate. She serves as President of CA Corporate & Attorney Services, Inc.; Scientific Advisor for Cannabis Science; Co-Founder of UF4A.org; Board Member of NORML Women’s Alliance; and Educational Director …