By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer
Mellissa Rhodes is asking all Muskogee residents to join her in turning the city blue Tuesday.
Rhodes, a homemaker, has two children: Meghann, 9, and Hunter, 12, who has autism. Rhodes said she knew Hunter was autistic at an early age, but his pediatrician wouldn’t make the diagnosis.
“He wasn’t violent, and the pediatrician said violence was an indicator,” Rhodes said. “But different children have different types of autism.”
Rhodes is participating in Light It Up Blue, a project started by Autism Speaks, a national autism awareness community. April is Autism Awareness month, and the goal of Light It Up Blue is to have participants shine a blue light on April 2.
Rhodes wants Muskogee to take an extra step.
“I’d like people to wear a blue shirt or a blue ribbon,” she said. “I’ve even asked some local businesses to place something blue in their storefront windows.
“I’ve talked to Muskogee schools about it, and they have agreed to send a districtwide email encouraging students and staff to wear blue.”
Rhodes came across Light It Up Blue project when she was looking for a local support group to help her with Hunter.
“Families who have autistic children struggle,” she said. “Hunter also has MECP2 (Rett Syndrome), which is a genetic disorder, as well as asthma and eyesight trouble.”
She said she knows the Muskogee area is home to many other autistic children, and she wants to bring awareness of that to the community.
According to Light It Up Blue’s website, slightly more than 31,000 people have pledged to shine a blue light in support of the event.
You can reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About autism: www.autismspeaks.org
About Light It Up Blue: www.lightitupblue.org