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AFRICAN-AMERICANS WITH AUTISM: The Cultural Effects of Autism on African-American Families

By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen

AUTISM ACADEMY – The Autism Academy, a school for children with autism, wants to share with you some important information about autism in African-American children. As a school for autism, we want to provide the best education for every child no matter his or her race. You probably know that February is Black History Month, which is why we want to focus on children with autism who are African-American. Today’s blog is dedicated to raising awareness about how autism affects African-American families.

In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson announced the second week of February would be Negro History Week.

By 1976, the United States government officially recognized Black History Month as part of the United States Bicentennial.

This month is committed to African-American history, but what about children with autism who are African American? Where do they fit in?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 68 American children have autism, and for many of those children, daily life is a constant struggle.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a condition where individuals struggle to engage in two-way communication.

The severity and precise symptoms of autism can vary, that is why it is referred to as a spectrum.

However, difficulties understanding another person’s intentions and emotions are a central theme.

Other autism symptoms include a need for a fixed routine or a hyper-focus on a narrow group of interests.

There is no cure for autism, and the cause may come down to countless interacting factors.

Yet, research has proven that it is critical for people with autism to get the earliest possible diagnosis.

Afterward, students with autism should obtain access to appropriate educational, medical, and therapeutic resources.

While autism is a challenge for many people and their families, it seems that African-American children are among the worst-affected.

They are simply not getting a diagnosis of autism as quickly as their peers.

According to the CDC, many children are diagnosed around age four, while research illustrates that African-American children may be diagnosed as much as 18 to 24 months later.

This is a critical delay.

It is well documented that African-American children with autism are referred to specialists less often and are less likely to receive medical tests.

Also, research suggests that African-American children do get professional healthcare referrals for autism symptoms, however, they are often misdiagnosed as having other conditions.

Furthermore, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or conduct disorders are frequently misdiagnosed in African-American children who have autism.

This is a controversial topic.

While we usually aim to keep our blogs high-spirited, it is important that we pause to raise awareness with sensitivity and services that we offer to all students, regardless of race.

Many African-American students embrace the Autism Academy as a second home.autism1

Teachers welcome students from all backgrounds, educate them equally, and exercise the highest level of sensitivity.

Not only is diversity important at the academy, but it employs a diverse group of administrators and staff to help all children excel with autism.

The Autism Academy is bridging the gap for a rainbow of families coping with ASD challenges.