Autism Light wants to wish everyone a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today we honor a young man with autism who is a smashing fan of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. His public and private devotion to his hero as well as how he represents individuals with autism is an inspiration. I think that if Martin Luther King, Jr. had experienced the rise in autism cases in his lifetime that we see today, he would have been involved in some significant way fighting for justice in health insurance and education for those with autism.
King Richard’s full name is David Kingston Richard. He goes by “King”, which is short for Kingston and is also fitting because of how he points to Martin Luther King, Jr. as his hero. King is a young adult from Pensacola, Florida. King has autism and despite limited communication skills, he is able to communicate through music. King Richard is an Autism Light because he utilizes his variety of talents and skills to be an inspiration to others. King Richard demonstrates that those with autism (in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.) SHALL OVERCOME!
Martin Luther King, Jr.: It would be an understatement to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. is King Richard’s hero. One of King’s favorite books growing up was about Martin Luther King, Jr. When he was 13 years old and heard that teens in his church were giving speeches on Martin Luther King, Jr., he said to his surprised mother, “King want to talk about Martin Luther King. King want to give speech.” King’s Mother, Ann Richard, was hesitant to expose her son to this risk of public failure, but the speech went forward as King and his father David insisted. King gave his short speech on Martin Luther King Jr. in church perfectly and even led the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer. Ann Richard subsequently wrote an article about this time for Guideposts called The Sunday I Let Go and it can be read at this link.
Often people outgrow their teenage idols but not so for King Richard. While millions honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on the day set aside each year as a holiday, King Richard thinks about him through out the year, because he visits the statute of Martin Luther King, Jr.in Pensacola, Florida twice a week to honor him.
Music: King Richard has shared his vocal singing at a variety of venues. The following is a video of King singing the United States National Anthem from his YouTube Channel.
Spirit of Life Award – 2009: King sang the above National Anthem at a ceremony in 2009, where he received the “Spirit of Life” Award from the Autism Society of Pensacola. The Autism Society of Pensacola wrote an article in their newsletter about King receiving of this special award and it is at this link. In the article it is said of King Richard:
He is a member of Jehovah Lutheran Church where he sings in the youth choir. Recently he has sung the National Anthem at the Special Olympics Games, the Annual Autism Dinner, the annual Walk-4-Autism, Senior Honors Awards Night at his High School, UWF Disability Awareness Day, at a Pensacola Pelicans Ballgame- and now he has sung for Pensacola Civitans (Source). Community Awareness: King Richard is a advocate for autism awareness in Pensacola, Florida and beyond. Ann Richard writes this about King’s activities:
In a voluntary capacity, King has helped to raise Autism Awareness within his community by making appearances at many community events, churches, and attending fundraisers and charitable events. He has raised Autism Awareness in such a profound way locally, and nationally. More importantly, he has helped to break down barriers and sterotypes associated with his condition. For many who know King’s outstanding achievements and contributions to this community, we can say with certainty that his life has impacted the lives of many and has made a difference in the world.Modeling: King’s photogenic qualities have given him the opportunity to model for the photo illustration needs of several organizations. King is a Poster Child for the National Autism Society of America, which means his photo is used around the world at autism conferences. King has also been featured on the cover of several autism related magazines, including Autism Aspergers Digest, Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and Exceptional Parenting Magazine.
Parents: King’s life has been so successful in large part to the dedication and support of his faithful parents David and Ann Richard. Ann Richard is an autism speaker and has published a book and wrote nationally syndicated articles about King and their family’s life with autism. Find out about them at the following links.
- And When He Didn’t Come Home (2002)
- An Unforgettable Christmas – Fox News (12/16/2009)
- The Sunday I Let Go – Guideposts
King Richard Foundation: The King Richard Foundation, Inc. has been established as a 501c3 nonprofit organization to help send children from low-income families affected by autism and other disabilities to camp. Their “Send a Kid to Camp” project raises small donations for the foundation. Last year they sent 3 kids to camp and will send more as they raise further funds each year. The foundation also has a “Give a Kid a Coat Project”. For more information visit the foundation’s website at www.thekingrichardfoundation.org, write The King Richard Foundation, Inc., 2322 Amelia Lane, Pensacola, Florida 32526 or call 1-850-944-9408.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.
Photo: The photo in this post of King Richard was used with the permission of Wikipedia and is from the National Archives and Records Administration.