Daddy-Daughter Duo Create YouTube Channel To Empower Children With Special Needs

April 21, 2021

Miguel Figueroa and his daughter Illiana are on a mission to transform the lives of children with autism and special needs worldwide.

Toy Quest 101
Miguel and Illiana Figueroa / ToyQuest101

Four years ago, Miguel tried to push his now 13-year-old daughter to start her own YouTube channel, similar to the ones she adored so much -- but he was shocked by her response.

"She said, well, I can't, because I have autism," he told ABC News. "And it really broke my heart."

So, he transformed his basement into the "studio" for Toy Quest101, a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing pop culture.

"At first, I thought I was scared because I have autism," said Illiana. "And then when I did the first video with my dad, now I was getting used to it and being happy with him."

Miguel says he saw an immediate change in his daughter in that very first episode in 2017.

 

"Illiana was talking more, engaging more, completing her sentences, trying to pronounce words," he told Fox News. "Lot of things that we struggled with growing up with autism."

He also noticed a "huge change in her excitement level and her engagement and her wanting to kind of come out of her shell."

Four years later, the Figueroas have reached an audience of more than 119,000 subscribers.

"Our vision is to bring awareness and promote a culture of acceptance where all kids with autism and special needs can be empowered to do what they set their mind to and not feel that their disability is a road block to accomplishing their dreams and or wishes," the YouTube channel description reads.

Miguel says parents from all over the world reach out to him looking for advice, or just to know that they're not alone.

He recalls meeting a little girl and her mom who had traveled three hours just to meet the people behind ToyQuest101 at a comic book event in New Jersey. The mom explained that her daughter has austism and loves their show because she can relate to Illiana.

"It gives me goosebumps because no matter how many subscribers we have, no matter if we have 55 million views, if we could impact just one person and even if it was that little girl, that's what matters the most," Miguel said.

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