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Brookwood student sells light bulbs for charity

SNELLVILLE -- A Brookwood High School junior with autism and a desire to thrive as a businessman found a way to make money for non-profit organizations that aim to spread awareness about the disorder.

In honor of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, Jordan Randles, 16, sold blue light bulbs last month to fellow students for $5 each-- money that went to advocacy organizations. It was in conjunction with the Autism Speaks Light it Up Blue Campaign.

For advice on the business venture, Randles consulted with his case manager at Brookwood, Kerrie New.

"He's got lots of big ideas, and he sets a lot of goals for himself," New said. "The light bulb project was a great boost for his self-confidence. He's proud to be able to bring autism to light for his fellow students."

In his own words, Randles said the blue lights represent "more respect for autism. People often shut us out because we're different, and I want them to understand what it is and what it means."

To date, Randles has sold more than 500 light bulbs. Each of them came with a piece of paper describing the disorder.

In his blue light bulb venture, New said that Randles "definitely learned some business skills."

Randles said that in particular he learned a lot about the importance of good communications and record keeping. He said running a business is also very much about "learning the perfect balance between leadership and management skills."

Randles said he hopes that other people with autism will see his project and be inspired. Eventually, he said, he'd like to travel around the area speaking to other students with autism about overcoming challenges of the disorder.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life "and affects the brain's normal development of social and communications skills."

According to its website, the Autism Speaks Light it Up Blue Campaign is a global initiative by the organization to "help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will Light it Up Blue to show their support on April 2, 2012--World Autism Awareness Day."