Monday, February 26, 2018

Resources for African Americans Coping with Autism

Photograph of Dr. Carter G. Woodson
Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week, which was eventually expanded into a month-long observance. Photograph courtesy of the National Park Service via Wikimedia Commons.

This month, people in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands will acknowledge important figures and commemorate significant events in the history of people of African descent, as they celebrate African American History Month, Black History Month and Black Achievement Month, respectively. Since, as is the case with many other aspects of life, African Americans coping with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) experience some unique challenges and disparities, African American History Month is an ideal time to share some information and resources that specifically address how ASD impacts the African American community.  

Some important recent studies provide insight into how autism affects African Americans. In “Autism and the African American Community,”1 Ruby M. Gourdine, Tiffany D. Baffour and Martell Teasley discussed a number of disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of autism among African Americans, including African American children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) an average of 1.5 years later and requiring up to 3 times the number of visits in order to receive a diagnosis than their Caucasian peers. They attribute these disparities to both historical inequalities, such as discrimination, and contemporary social problems that greatly impact the African American community, such as “higher unemployment rates, higher rates of uninsured families and lack of access to services due to geographical region.” 

Gourdine, Baffour and Teasley also underscored the harmful effects racial slights have on African Americans’ perceptions of themselves as capable caregivers. According to the authors, these microinsults can make African American caregivers feel “personally inadequate, incompetent and powerless in the helping process.”

In their 2012 article, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Quality of Health Care Among Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities,”2 Sandra Magaña, Susan L. Parish, Roderick A. Rose, Maria Timberlake and Jamie G. Swaine, identified significant deficits in healthcare access, utilization and quality of care among African American children with autism as compared to children of other races with autism, as well as African American children who have other developmental disabilities. 

The authors’ analysis shows that families of Black children with autism were 64% more likely to report not having a personal physician and 53% more likely to report having a physician that does not spend enough time interacting with patients and their families than Black children who have other developmental disabilities. Among their major findings was the fact that African American children and adults with autism face “greater challenges securing adequate healthcare.”

They identified a combination of predisposing factors (parent education, family structure, race and ethnicity), enabling factors (family income, whether the child has insurance) and need factors (type of developmental disability, severity of disability) that contribute to disparities in quality of healthcare.
For more insight into how autism impacts African Americans,listen to Michel Martin’s National Public Radio interview , and view the PBS NewsHour report on the isolation and disparities of care African-Americans coping with autism face, featuring Debra Vines, founder of The Answer, Inc.

Information and resources for African-Americans affected by autism can be found by visiting the following Websites:

1Ruby M. Gourdine, Tiffany D. Baffour & Martell Teasley (2011): Autism and the African American Community, Social Work in Public Health, 26:4, 454-470.

2Sandra Magaña, Susan L. Parish, Roderick A. Rose, Maria Timberlake, and Jamie G. Swaine (2012) Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Quality of Health Care Among Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: August 2012, Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 287-299.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Variety—the Children’s Charity Provides Resources and Grants for Children with Special Needs

Variety—the Children’s Charity serves children who are affected by illness, disability or disadvantage through its three core programs--the Care Program, the Freedom Program and the Future Program—as well as through grants. Variety provides assistance directly to individual children and through organizations that serve children.

The Care Program delivers critical life-saving medical equipment and services, in addition to healthcare and well-being services. Children with autism may benefit from a number of resources available through the program, such as vision care, dental care, sensory equipment and respite care.

Variety’s Freedom Program makes life-changing equipment and services that promote mobility, independence and social inclusion available to children with special needs. Some of the resources children with autism could benefit from through the program include adaptive bicycles, assistance animals and specialized seating.

The Future Program at Variety provides crucial life-enriching communication equipment and access to opportunities to participate in educational and self-esteem building activities to children with special needs. Children with autism may be able to obtain communication devices or participate in camps, special recreation activities and cultural events through the program.

Variety also has a grant program to cover items and services that children with autism and other special needs may benefit from. To apply for a grant or assistance through one of Variety’s core programs, contact your local chapter or send an e-mail to the national office.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

United Special Sportsman Alliance Provides Dream Outdoor Vacations for Disabled Kids and Veterans

Photo of smiling boy holding freshly caught fish
USAA grants wishes for special outdoor adventures to disabled children and veterans. Photo by Campbell Adam, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) is a nonprofit wish granting organization that sends critically ill and disabled children, and disabled veterans, on dream outdoor adventures. Young people who have autism and other disabilities are eligible to participate in the program. Click on the link to apply for a wish, refer a potential wish recipient or learn more about the organization.

Tim Tebow Foundation's Night to Shine Celebrates People with Special Needs

The Tim Tebow Foundation lives up to its commitment to celebrate people with special needs with its annual Night to Shine event.

This year’s Night to Shine, which took place on February 9, 2018, gave approximately 90,000 honored guests ages 14 and older an unforgettable prom night experience. The foundation partnered with 537 churches and 175,000 volunteers around the world to help some very special people create memories that will last a lifetime.

Plans are already underway for next year’s festivities, which will take place on February 8, 2019. If you would like to refer a guest with autism or other special needs for an invitation, please contact one of the host churches listed on the on the event’s Web page or contact the foundation directly

Check out the Night to Shine 2018 International Highlight Video.