Autism in the African American Community

AutismThis past month I have met three young African American women under the age of 35 who have children diagnosed with Autism. They all shared similar stories being a mom for the first, afraid to have another child and searching all over the web for information. Finding support groups in the neighborhoods has been a challenging task for them all. One young lady described how she feels her dreams have been shattered in terms of taking her child to the playground, zoo, museum or playdate. The other young lady described the stress of being unable to enjoy the simple things such as an intimate dinners as a family at a restaurant and the stress it induces on her marriage. Another young lady described the challenges within the black community to understand autism and accept her child. As a nurse, I couldn’t help but find resources and recommendations for them. As my generation is faced with the challenges of motherhood, single parenthood and lack of finances for rehabilitation, special programs, occupational therapy it is now becoming more apparent to me how many people are in need of help (on multiple levels). I am particularly saddened by the struggles of mothers who lack social support and have no one to talk to. If you know of a mom who’s child is autistic remember they need respite even more so than a parent of non-autistic child. Invite them out for a girls night and provide them with your support. I remind all of the women I meet that their child deserves just as much love and adventures as non-autistic children.

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