Louisiana Dad Looks to Raise Autism Awareness With Blue Nail Polish

Louisiana dad asks public to "paint 'em blue" for a good cause.

— -- Brian Batey, a 48-year-old engineer and father of two who grew up in rural Louisiana, isn't the kind of guy you would guess would be into painting his nails.

But then again, if you were just judging based on his looks, you might not guess that he also has Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome. Two years ago, Batey was diagnosed as "being on the spectrum," as he said, and he's known for years that his 18-year-old son, Nathan, has the two diagnoses.

With this being Autism Awareness Month, Batey is hoping to raise not just awareness, but acceptance of the diagnosis. Batey's Facebook page, "Paint 'Em Blue for Autism," used to be called "Paint 'Em Blue for Nathan," he said. But this year, he wants to include all people with autism, and he's hoping for 1,000 people to paint their nails blue and post it to the page with the name of the person they're doing it on honor of.

"When I see blue nails, I always wonder if the person with them knows and loves one of us," he said.

When people post to the page -- and he has more than 300 so far, from as far away as Denmark and Singapore -- he knows they do.

"My goal is to get more people talking about autism and taking a different look at the people with autism they encounter," he said. "It benefits everybody."

Batey's take on his diagnosis is that he wouldn't change it if he could.

"It's given me many gifts," he said, citing his hobbies, including being a musician and a cook.

"I can accept the negatives, like anxiety and depression," he said. "I hope Nathan gets to the same place, where he likes where he is and sees that [autism has] given him as many things as it has taken away from him."

The Facebook page isn't raising any money. Acceptance, Batey said, is when neuro-typical people let others with autism into their lives. It's something his 13-year-old neighbor, Breanne Pittman, has for Nathan, Batey said.

"She comes over and hangs out with the 6-foot-3, 330-pound 18-year-old and just knows how smart he is," he said.

It was Breanne, he added, who painted his nails and took the photo.

Though his goals surrounding autism awareness and acceptance may sound lofty, he does have one very concrete goal involving a celebrity.

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