**Blog post by BACA parent and advocate Kristian Little
On July 20, I was proud to be part of an event that took autism awareness in Indiana to another level. Actress Tisha Campbell-Martin, from the famed sitcom “Martin,” LaDonna Hughley (wife of comedian and Dancing With The Stars contestant D.L. Hughley) and entertainment producer Shannon Nash premiered their film, “Colored My Mind,” at Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration. BACA sponsored the ladies’ appearance, the film’s Indianapolis premiere and a panel discussion that followed.
This event had been months in the making, and I was so excited to be a part of it. When my son was diagnosed with autism in 2012, I was lost. I didn’t know anyone who was dealing with what I had to deal with, and I felt as if no one understood my plight. I immediately decided to do my part and bring more awareness to autism to help parents – like me – know there are resources and there are others out there going through the same thing you are going through.
While surfing the Internet, I came across a film trailer called “Colored My Mind.” It starred the above-named people plus two other women – all African-American, like me; all had children with autism. These women had joined together to tell their stories of what it was like when their child received the diagnosis of autism. Each child is on varied ends of the spectrum, tried varied types of therapies and have had varied results. But one thing was the same – the feeling that life as you know it has been turned upside down with no clear path to make it better.
Through my research I found out these women had premiered their film at film festivals all over the world, including the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where they won best documentary in their category. This story was too powerful not to share. When I approached BACA about sponsoring an Indianapolis premiere during the largest cultural event in Indianapolis, the answer was a resounding yes!
These ladies definitely live and breathe autism awareness. Over the three days they visited the Circle City, they broadcasted their message that autism is NOT a death sentence on various media stages.
The “Colored My Mind” ladies were hosted at a meet and greet for BACA families where they spoke one-on-one to parents and advocates alike. Tisha Campbell-Martin was surprised with a Congressional Recognition presented to her by the office of Congressman André Carson.
The film itself, a short, was 17 minutes in length but brought mixed emotions from more than 200 attendees. During the one-hour panel discussion, the women of “Colored My Mind,” joined Dr. Carl Sundberg and Pastor Terrence Bridges, youth pastor at Eastern Star Church and an autism dad, listened to the stories of parents as they told what their journey with autism had been like. It was refreshing to see parents share resources, comfort each other and learn new ways to advocate for their children.
African-American and Hispanic children on average are diagnosed two to three years later than Caucasian children. Thanks to BACA, the conversation about autism awareness took center stage while many listened. And while the conversation is far from over, the message of hope took a giant leap forward.