Long Island teen's letter to legislator inspires law to mark Autism Awareness Month

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Kristin Thorne has the story of a Long Island teenager who has been personally affected by autism and is doing her part to make a difference in her community. (WABC)

A Long Island teenager who has been personally affected by autism is doing her part to make a difference in her community and highlight the month set aside to focus on awareness.

And when Nova Shek's little brother Zen was diagnosed with autism four years ago, she made it her mission to make sure he felt included.

"She started by teaching him some sign language, so she would be able to talk to him," mom Tina Shek said.

And now, the 13-year-old is taking her mission to an even bigger stage. She recently wrote a letter to Suffolk County legislator Steve Stern, asking if she could put blue lights in his office during April to honor Autism Awareness Month.

"I thought it would be nice for people to see that Suffolk County supports children and families with autism," Nova said.

Stern decided they could do better than that, lighting up the entire H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.

"I was so surprised," Nova said. "I didn't think he would light up the whole building."

And Stern is making sure it happens the week of April 2 every year moving forward, by getting it signed into law.

"It's an important message here, that really, the efforts of one small voice can really have such a large impact for so many of us," Stern said.

Nova was excited to hear the news.

"That's amazing that I made such a big difference, and that it will be going on for years," she said. "They're just going to keep lighting it up every year."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will sign the legislation into law at the Dennison building, and then there will be a large ceremony outside, where they will do the countdown before lighting the building blue at sunset.
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