Nakia “Kia Shine” Coleman, a rapper, producer, and actor, alongside his wife Queen Coleman, has launched Autism Advocates, a nonprofit organization aimed at providing awareness and support for families in the autism community. The organization, which officially launched on April 1, 2023, focuses on making an impact in communities where support is most needed, with an emphasis on equitable access to services and resources.
For Queen, her purpose in advocating for autism awareness and support found her through her son’s diagnosis and her family’s journey with learning more about autism and the spectrum. Through Autism Advocates, the organization aims to build awareness, acceptance, and inclusion while promoting the standard of all ability equality. They focus on providing resources, support, and education to families and individuals impacted by autism, with a special focus on the African American community.
According to the CDC, autism affects one in 44 children in the United States, but research shows that African American children are often diagnosed at later ages and are less likely to receive early intervention services. Autism Advocates aims to address this disparity and provide support to families in need. Queen, who balances being a wife, business owner, and mother to multiple children while navigating the challenges of the autism journey, aims to uplift others who are going through similar challenges and create a supportive community.
“We felt like after a decade of going through the world of autism, who better to be able to represent autistic children as well as parents with the struggle they go through having a child with a different ability,” says Queen. The organization plans to build momentum during April for Autism Awareness Month and continue their efforts to gain awareness and action by partnering with other nonprofits, corporations, and support groups for their inaugural expo to be held in Memphis, TN, this summer.
Autism Advocates also offers merchandise on their website, including shirts, hoodies, mugs, and more, with 100% of the profits allocated to support children and families impacted by autism. The organization aims to use these funds to further their mission of providing resources, support, and education to families in need.
With their focus on creating awareness, acceptance, and inclusion, Autism Advocates is on a mission to make a positive impact in the autism community, especially in underserved communities, and provide support for families navigating the challenges of autism. Through their advocacy efforts, partnerships, and fundraising initiatives, they aim to create a brighter future for individuals with autism and their families, and to shine a light on the spectrum of possibilities within the autism community.