Nineteen-year-old James King, who has autism, convinced his neighbor, Avon Lake Mayor Karl “K.C.” Zuber, to take part in the global “Light It Up Blue” campaign to celebrate Autism Awareness Month.
King, a student at Avon Lake High School, said he is excited people will be learning more about the disorder, which affects about 1 in 110 children, according to Autism Speaks, a national autism advocacy organization. King called the blue lights on the city buildings “pretty cool.”
“I would say I’m gifted in many ways,” he said. “I don’t think of me as having a disability; I think of me as a normal kid.”
King’s father, also named James King, said persistence paid off for his son.
While his son can’t drive, he uses a special bicycle to get around and is a responsible teen who doesn’t get into trouble, he said.
“I couldn’t ask for a better kid,” King said.
If you want to know anything about history, ask his son, according to King, who described him as a “history savant.”
The younger King said he probably enjoys World War II history the most, and is a particular fan of the maneuvers in North Africa of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, nicknamed the Desert Fox.
Avon Lake and other communities taking part will be featured on www.lightitupblue.com.
More than 500 landmarks in more than 120 U.S. cities and 30 countries, including the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House in Australia, are being lit up in blue to shine a light on autism.
In Avon Lake, Zuber said there was little or no expense involved because the city just put a blue film over spotlights.
The mayor said he was just glad he could help, calling the teen “very persistent.”
“Some people have told me it looks really nice,” Zuber said of the blue lights.
Autism is a brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.