MEMPHIS, Tenn. — April is Autism Awareness Month and while we honor the disorder for one month, families deal with it year-round. Rapper Kia Shine, who just earned the key to Shelby County, speaks with WREG as his son conquers autism.
Nakia “Shine” Coleman is known around Memphis for his music. But in 2012, his life switched keys.
We’re talking about his son, Jameson.
“Jameson, who is 11 years old, and was diagnosed with non-verbal autism when he was like two and a half, three years old,” Coleman said.
Now Shine and his wife Queen Coleman dedicate their life to speaking about autism.
“Autism is not a Memphis thing or an Atlanta thing,” Coleman said. “It’s nationwide. It’s a worldwide thing.”
It’s also a Shelby County thing.
“Just was humbled that like they took a second to recognize me in the midst of major things going in the city,” Coleman said. “I’m blessed to do what I love, but the world is much bigger than me and what I do is not just about me.”
Commissioner Tami Sawyer awarded Shine the key to Shelby County because of his family’s work to raise money and raise awareness, mainly by selling t-shirts through their “Coffee with Kinfolk” brand.
“God chooses parents, so I know that he chose us to be his parents, so I feel like there is a ministry for me in that and there is a purpose for me in that,” Coleman said.
The Coleman family also connects with other families like theirs.
“We just got our son at six or seven where he was able to be potty trained, dealing with that and teaching a child who doesn’t speak how to do that,” Coleman said.
They were potty training while also co-writing platinum songs and playing roles on the big screen.
Coleman is hopeful his key to Shelby County will unlock new opportunities for others.
“It’s deeper than music, it’s deeper than rap, it’s deeper than film and TV,” Coleman said. “It’s deeper than this key, but I’m thankful for it because it helps me promote things like this.”