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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Autism in the Black Mommy Community

Ever got a msg to test your child for autism? One mommy friend of mine, who has an autistic child sent me a msg recently encouraging me to test Daniel for autism. Some might feel he’s a bit young for testing. Yet early detection plays a key role in helping a child get the needed services and support.

Many famous black moms like Holly Robinson Peete and Toni Braxton have spoken out on what its like being a mom of an autistic child. Holly Robinson Peete gave a interview about the need for World Autism Day while Toni Braxton made a video to urge more parents to be familiar with the “red flags” for autism

We as African American/ African Caribbean moms are not faceless when dealing with this issue. Even on a non-celebrity level info and support can be found. Lorraine, the mom who sent me that timely reminder, has a website and has produced her own video.

When it comes to autism within the black community… early diagnosis is key. I don’t like to say this but black children’s health…especially black little boys are not always priority within the health community.

Since autism seems to affect boys at a large rate then girls moms with boys should educate themselves about warning signs. But a lot of black moms are either not told about these signs or are brushed aside when voicing concerns about our children’s development. As black mothers I encourage you to push to get the same medical information and intervention as non-minority mothers. Also, as black moms of biracial kids our input is also needed so future research will benefit kids of mixed heritage.

So where to start? Inform yourself!

For example did you know there is a wide spectrum of being autistic. Most people are familiar with a child being unresponsive but a child could also be what is referred to as high function. To best detect if your child may be autistic and under what range please...observe your child for key warning signs and if necessary get your child tested.

Even after being diagnosed there’s a lot to learn, resources out there and people dedicated to providing services. Check out Autism Classroom a site that believes

parents are the child's first teachers, this site is for you too! On this site you will be able to find out helpful information about autism, view our online training, take "classes" with our web training class, request consultative support, download tons of free materials, post a question, message or response at our Chatboard message board, and listen to our audio podcasts

There is also tons of info at Austism Society of America and Autism Speaks.

I am very grateful to the moms of autistic children for sharing info and awareness and the joy of their children despite dealing with the challenges of autism. While I knew a little bit about autism after spending time with these moms and their families I’ve learned much more.


Lorraine says:
at: July 19, 2009 at 8:02 PM said...

Thank you so much for this very worthwhile topic Nikki. I am honored that you mentioned me in the blog. I wanted to let you know about attorney supermom Areva Martin who in addition to her thriving law practice, runs the Special Needs Network - Los Angeles.

Through Areva I learned that black and minority (and immigrant) children are many times diagnosed with autism later than whites children whose parents may have better access to resources that allow them to be tested earlier. That time lost is critical to a child on the spectrum and may never be recovered. So along with all the fascinating information you have provided to your readers, please check out this phenomenal woman, Areva Martin and be awed. She is doing wonderful work on behalf of families who may otherwise have no hope for their children on the spectrum and with other special needs.

Thanks again for this public service you are providing.

Nicole says:
at: July 19, 2009 at 10:26 PM said...

Thumbs Up! My son [who is now 12] was diagnosed with autism when he was 2. Early diagnosis is the key. There was something "different' about him that I could not put my finger on. Mothers, listen to your instincts. My son is now in the gifted class in his school, and doing great! Autism is such a wide spectrum, and it can be ovwrwhelming, but there is so much information on the web. Thumbs up!

~Juanita~ says:
at: July 23, 2009 at 9:37 PM said...

You have such a lovely blog! So I decided to give you an award! Go to my blog to pick it up!

bbrian017 says:
at: July 27, 2009 at 10:49 AM said...

I can only imagine the strength it takes to find out your child has autism. Perhaps I think this way because I don’t have the natural and unconditional love of a mother. Perhaps it’s simply because I have no children but none the less you all deserve a pat on the back as I know it much be difficult.

It’s nice to know there so many resources out there for parents to get help from.

p.s. thanks for submitting to blogengage

Yakini says:
at: August 1, 2009 at 7:44 PM said...

This is such an important topic. It's something that I don't like to think about, but I know I need to.... as you said, the earlier detected, the earlier you can get the services you need. Thank you for posting this!