As the founder of Autism in Black®, my passion for our mission runs deep. It’s more than just words; it’s a guiding light for our community. Our goal is as clear as day: to empower, educate, and advocate for the Black autism community. Join me as I take you on a journey through our goals, our tireless efforts to realize them, and why this mission holds profound significance.
At the heart of our mission lies a commitment to break down long-standing barriers that have hindered the Black autism community’s access to crucial resources, support, and understanding. This commitment is deeply personal to me. As a mother of two autistic children and an autistic individual myself, I intimately understand the isolation, shame, and stigma that often accompany an autism diagnosis, particularly within the Black community.
A main focus for Autism in Black® is to bridge gaps, particularly when it comes to accessing timely diagnosis, quality care, and education. Black families have faced numerous hurdles in securing prompt autism diagnoses for their children. We work tirelessly to establish connections among families, healthcare professionals, and educators to ensure that Black autistic children receive the support they need right from the start.
Because understanding autism and its unique characteristics is essential for the Black community, we provide valuable resources and guidance. Whether it’s dealing with bullies, navigating interactions, or embarking on the special education journey, we aim to equip individuals with the knowledge they need to foster understanding within our families and communities.
We recognize the significance of culture and how it shapes approaches to autism. Emphasizing the importance of understanding this cultural context, we strive to create a more inclusive and informed environment for autistic individuals and their families. Cultural sensitivity is at the core of our work. We provide tools and resources to shift practices towards greater cultural responsivity. Our approach centers on diversity and inclusivity, ensuring that autism support is always tailored to the unique needs of the Black community, moving far beyond a one-size-fits-all approach.
Our endeavors come to life through stories—stories of transformation and empowerment. Many of these stories revolve around parents who found solace and strength through our workshops, knowing they are not alone in their journey.
Our mission culminates in our annual Autism in Black® Conference. What sets our conference apart is that Black neurodivergent individuals lead it. It’s a space where we don’t just focus on the professional aspects of autism; we also share our own lived experiences. The conference is a celebration of unity, mutual understanding, and empowerment. It’s where we bring together our community, experts, and advocates to exchange insights, share stories, and offer unwavering support. It’s a gathering where we honor the journey of every Black autistic individual and their families.
Our cause matters because it challenges existing norms and champions a world where every Black autistic individual thrives. It revolves around celebrating our rich diversity and acknowledging that every voice, every experience, and every life deserves recognition and value.
What we do here at Autism in Black® isn’t merely important; it’s a lifeline. It encapsulates compassion, resilience, and an unshakable belief in the boundless potential of every Black autistic individual. It’s an invitation, an open call to stand alongside us, embrace our mission, and collaborate in forging a brighter, more inclusive future for everyone within our Black-centered, neuroaffirming community.
Maria Davis-Pierre is a licensed mental health counselor, autism awareness advocate, and founder of Autism in Black. As the autistic parent of two autistic children, she understands the isolation, shame, and stigma that often accompanies an autism diagnosis. She uses her personal experience and professional expertise to connect and empower Black parents of autistic children. A dynamic, in-demand speaker, she also conducts workshops and lectures on topics such as autism in the Black community, the intersection of race and disability, and self-care. Her work has gained national acclaim with features in Forbes, The New York Times, USA Today, Parents magazine and on PBS.