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As information about autism continues to spread, so do the myths on autism. There are many myths about autism; these myths are harmful, misleading and stigmatizing. It is important to demystify these myths to encourage parents of autistic children to seek treatment and eliminate stigma associated with autism.
1. Vaccines Cause Autism
There are a lot of rumors which suggest that vaccine overload weakens a child’s immune system which eventually leads to developmental abilities such as Autism. However, extensive research shows no relationship between vaccines and autism. Autism is a group of disorders that has many causes such as genetics, developmental and environmental factors. Many people associate autism with bad parenting and psychosis.
2. Autistic People Lack Empathy and Affection
Some people believe that autistic black girls have little or no emotions. Interestingly, people with autism can feel all emotions like their peers with no developmental disabilities. The only challenge would be expressing their emotions and the inability to make relationships and connections. Black autistic girls may also struggle to understand other people’s emotions towards them. Research shows that therapy helps autistic people to be in touch with their emotions hence the ability to create and maintain relationships.
3. Autism can be cured
There is no scientific evidence which indicates that black autistic girls can be cured. Although there is no cure for autism, there are various intervention strategies that can be used to manage symptoms in an autistic girl. Some of these strategies include speech therapy, behavior therapy and occupational therapy. These therapies are given based on the severity of autism.
4. Autistic People are Antisocial
Black girls with ASD may be considered as antisocial because of they interact differently unlike their peers with no developmental disabilities. Sometimes, people with ASD prefer segregating themselves due to sensory sensitivities or stigma. This may often be mistaken as being anti-social. Autistic people have the ability to interact with others and participate in activities such as sports, music and theatre. Girls with ASD have a problem with reading and understanding non-verbal cues such as body language, tone and facial expressions.
5. All People with Autism are Alike
Some people believe that all autistic people behave the same. This is not true and cannot be proven scientifically. The diagnosis, severity and treatment of autism vary from one person to another. Autistic girls may show different symptoms from autistic boys. Children with autism on the other hand, may behave differently from adults with autism. Treatment options are also different based on the severity and financial capabilities of parents with autistic girls.
Effect of Race on Diagnosis
Today, it is widely known that there exist inequalities in our society along racial and ethnic lines particularly in areas such as education and household income. This inequality predictably affects the diagnosis and treatment of autism among children from Black communities. Research conducted in the past shows that Black children are more likely than white children to experience undiagnosed autism, meaning that they almost certainly have their autism diagnosed later.
Autistic Girls are Often Overlooked
Today, more boys than girls are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. This means that while race already puts Black girls in a disadvantaged position, gender also makes diagnosis difficult. Often, researchers blame genetic differences for autistic girls who are simply missed. This is to say that even when a girl presents symptoms of autism, she can be overlooked. One reason for this is that girls, and especially Black girls, do not fit the autistic “model.” The classic autism diagnosis model that relies on deficits in communication and social skills, according to some researchers, has turned out to be a male model. As such, while a girl may fit this model, it is often thought that girls naturally have a quieter presentation. This stereotype may, therefore, get in the way of recognizing challenges with social skills.
Social and Emotional Effects on the Girls
It could be particularly challenging for a Black girl to live with autism especially when frustrations may cause one to be labeled an “angry black woman.” Such racial stereotypes can make the life for a black girl with autism extremely difficult. The inability to socialize easily could make one appear inflexible or naïve. Being assertive, on the other hand, could lead to one being perceived as aggressive. Black autistic girls may miss out on opportunities in school, at work and in the community. Learning may also be hindered due to lack of finances to access special schools for autistic children.
1. Sleep Problems
Research indicates that children with ASD are more likely to get sleep issues unlike their typical children. Autistic girls who have sleep issues experience sleepiness during the day hence leading to behavioral issues such as moodiness and aggression. Further, lack of sleep reduces concentration and attentiveness significantly which interfers with learning.
Some of the ways of improving sleep for autistic girls include creating a sleep schedule, exercising and taking proper diets.
2. Gastrointestinal Problems
Children who have ASD are more likely to develop gastrointestinal issues compared to their peers. These issues include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Gastrointestinal issues are common in autistic girls due to differences in the bacteria located in the gut, inflammation of the gut tract and poor diet. Autistic girls with gastrointestinal issues may be unable to express their discomfort and may show it in other ways such as crying and aggression. Parents of autistic girls should ensure the girls take balance diets and take a lot of water to facilitate digestion and prevent constipation. An examination by a general physician is also important in determining the underlying cause of the gastrointestinal issue.
Seizures are more likely to occur among autistic children than in the general population. People with epilepsy are more likely to develop autism hence implying that seizures and autism often occur together. Seizures in autistic girls occur as a result of disruption of neural development. In adolescents sezuires occur due to failure of the rewiring of the neural circuit to cope with social and body changes. This explains an increase in seizures among teenage girls. Treatment options may include administration of anti-epilyptic drugs and nerve stimulation.
4. Low Muscle Tone
Low muscle tone is common in autistic children. Autistic girls have floppy muscles unlike their counterparts with no developmental disabilities. Common signs of low muscle tones include poor posture, difficulty in chewing food and poor balance while walking or running. Additionally, low muscle tone in autistic girls causes difficulty in speech development which may result in low self-esteem especially in puberty.
Some of the ways of addressing low muscle tone in black autistic girls include using tools, massages and PROMPT.
5. Sensory Sensitivities
People living with autism are either very sensitive to light, touch, smell and sound or not sensitive at all. Scientists are yet to give reasons why autistic people have sensory sensitivities. However, researchers argue that these sensitivities could be either genetic or environmental. Sensory sensitivities hinder autistic black girls from participantin in daily activities.
To address this, measures such as resting, sensory stimulation and staying away from trigger environments are recommended.
Autistic children behave differently from their peers. This difference is exhibited in the way they speak, think and behave. Parents and teachers always ask themselves how they can support autistic black girls in school. Here are some tips for teachers and parents on how to support black autistic girls in school.
1. Pairing the Autistic Child
In a normal school setting, autistic children are stigmatized due to their behaviors. Autistic children therefore, have a high chance of having social anxiety than children with other developmental disabilities. Teacher should be intentional when pairing up autistic children to help them feel included in school activities.
2. Keeping Them Active
It is essential to keep autistic black girls active by enrolling them in sports, art and music. Teachers and parents should identify a child’s interest and help them nurture their talents and expend physical energy hence enhancing concentration for other tasks. In the current world, black autistic girls stand a chance to do better than normal girls when they are all rounded.
3. Create a Bond and a Relationship
Since autistic children struggle to express themselves verbally, it is crucial for teachers to initiate activities such as playing. An autistic black girls should feel needed and wanted to become active. Another way of developing a bond with an autistic girl is by immersing oneself in her interests. For instance, if a girl likes to play with dolls, a teacher can center his activities towards playing with dolls to keep the child active and interested. Being proud of your child’s achievements is also essential in creating a strong bond with them.
4. Create a Schedule
A little structure and schedules, makes life predictable. The same applies when dealing with autistic black girls. They need to know what to anticipate every day and how to prepare themselves. For instance, an autistic black girl should predict play time, sleep time and feeding time. A schedule should be placed where the child can see it. Scheduling creates order and prevents breakdowns and stress. Researchers argue that autistic children like routines and interrupting this routine might throw them off.
5. Multi-stakeholder Collaboration
Autistic girls require medical and non-medical attention when in school. Teachers, students, parents and therapists should work together to help them excel in all areas. For example, during a break down, teachers should know how to handle an autistic child without causing panic among other students. Parents and caregivers should also be on their toes and ready to show up in school in case of an emergency.
Autism affects people across the globe and is not limited to one’s age, race or family background. Over the past few decades, researchers have dedicated their efforts and resources to identify barriers to autism services. They are:
1. Community and Cultural Factors
African-American children are less likely to receive diagnosis at an early age hence missing out on early interventions that affects a child’s development. Due to cultural factors in black communities, a child who exhibits unusual and disruptive behaviors is considered mannerless and a sign of bad parenting.
2. Financial Barriers
Medical costs and non-medical costs of children living with ASD are higher than those of children living with other developmental disabilities. Children with ASD require special attention in terms of school childcare settings and transportation arrangements. Black communities struggling to eke out a living may struggle to access these basic services for children living with ASD.
3. Systemic Barriers
These include lack of coordination between agencies and failure by pediatricians to refer children with ASD for further treatment. Some pediatricians are reluctant to refer children showing less severe symptoms for diagnosis and early treatment. Lack of access to pediatricians especially among children living in child protective services. Black mothers also describe the process of diagnosis and treatment as stressful and lengthy.
Treating children living with ASD is expensive. National data indicate that there is high usage by children with ASD compared to children living with other developmental disorders. High costs of treatment cover psychiatric services and prescription medication. Lack of insurance among some low-income black families hinders access to diagnosis and treatment of autism.
Parents of autism spectrum disorder children face isolation, humiliation and exclusion. Children with ASD may show aggression therefore, making it difficult for the parents to handle such children. Moreover, autistic children are isolated by other children due to lack of awareness and knowledge on autism.
If you care for someone with Autism then I’m certain you can agree with me that many days your patience is tested. You cannot give in to manipulative behaviors. YOu have to say what you mean, and mean what you say. In my experience caring for someone with Autism there has been a lot of tough love. There have been many nights where I feel like a horrible mother because of how “stern/strict I have to be at times”. Routine is necessary, structure is crucial, and there has to be rules and consequences/rewards in place. I have been guilty of saying no, then giving in because I feel bad. Trust me, once your loved one/child has figured out where your soft spot is and how they can manipulate to get what they wont, they will and it only becomes worse as they get older. Consistency will save your life. Having a solid routine that is not overwhelming will help your days carry out much smoother. At the present moment we are trying Tiimo and so far we love the features it has vs. Goally. This visual planner will help with focus, schedules, routines and reminders for Camryn and I. It’s important that your loved one understands the routine and everyone feels comfortable with the routine/schedule.
Also, if the routine must be changed discuss it with your child or loved one before the change is made to eliminate additional anxiety, fear, concern.
ALSO, VISUAL SCHEDULEs ARE HELPFUL IN THE BATHROOM, BEDROOM, KITCHEN, ETC. HAVING A Calendar THAT IS PICTURE FRIENDLY WILL ALSO HELP WITH ORIENTATION, REMINDERS AND DATES. CAMRYN IS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL NOW AND HAS CERTAIN TASKS AND CHORES MASTERED TO WHERE SHE DOES NOT NEED REMINDERS. she is ABLE TO COMPLETE certain tasks INDEPENDENTLY, HOWEVER WE DID USE VISUAL REMINDERS IN AREAS OF OUR HOME.
YOUR Family’s ROUTINE WONT LOOK LIKE ANOTHER FAMILYS ROUTINE AND THATS OK. YOU MUST DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND KEEPS THINGS SMOOTH AND EFFECTIVE. IT WILL BE TRIAL AND ERROR. YOU WILL MESS UP AND GET OFf SCHEDULE, THATS OK. GET BACK ON AND KEEP TRYING, KEEP PUSHING TOWARDS GOALS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS; meeting MILESTONES. I WOULD BE A COMPLETE LIE IF I SAID ITS GOING TO BE OK. THE SHIT WILL BE HARD, BUT YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT.
PHOTO CREDIT: MAMA
PHOTO CREDIT: MAMA
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), commonly known as autism, is a developmental disability that can potentially cause substantial social, behavioral, and communication challenges.
One of the unique characteristics of this condition is that people with ASD have nothing that sets them apart from other people. Moreover, as the term ‘spectrum’ suggests, there is no one type of ASD but various subtypes that are influenced by different environmental and genetic factors.
Usually, how people with autism go about their lives ranges from highly skilled to severely challenged. For instance, some individuals are known to have high-functioning autism which manifests itself in the form of highly developed reading or writing skills. This, however, is not an official medical diagnosis. Such people may be able to live independently while others may need significant support to learn, communicate and improve their problem-solving skills.
Because the majority of children with autism will behave ‘normally’ (sit, crawl and walk on time), one may fail to notice the signs of ASD in the first few months of life. Some of the symptoms to watch out for include difficulty in interaction or understanding how other people feel or think.
Today, researchers believe that early intervention can produce positive outcomes for individuals with autism. It is, therefore, important to learn about how to identify signs of autism and gain access to interventions that can improve future outcomes. In Virginia, there are a variety of autism resources that provide these services for Black families.
Dominion Youth Services provides (DYS) personalized autism and behavior services that are designed to improve the quality of families with children experiencing behavioral challenges. The organization has a private day school where students can receive the emotional, academic and behavioral support they require. The educational services provided by DYS provide one-on-one support for students experiencing behavioral challenges. Through the organization, people with autism can access individualized training to help them function independently. DYS has locations in various parts of Virginia including Alexandria, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach.
Another autism resource for Black families is the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence. One of the resources available at VCU Autism Center for Excellence is a course for new parents. Others include webcasts ad seminars.
we are very excited about summer camp at Talisman! Camryn will be attending for the first time next month. Talisman summer camp is catered and designed to accomodate and serve youth ages 6-22 who have a Autism and/or ADHD DIAGNOSIS. The camp also ACCOMMODATES children who have other special needs. the camp accepts youth ages 6-22. Depending on the age group/diagnosis the camp has a program catered for your childs needs. the two videos below provide insight on the camp details and location.
THE CAMP IS LOCATED AT: 64 GAP CREEK ROAD ZIRCONIA, NC 28790.
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 828.697.6313
WE ARE EXCITED AND CANT WAIT FOR OUR SUMMER SESSION. CAMRYN WILL BE ATTENDING A TWO WEEK SUMMER SESSION (SIGHT-AUTISM CATERED), SINCE THIS IS OUR FIRST TIME ATTENDING A CAMP AWAY FROM HOME. PRICES VARY FROM 1,650-4,750 DEPENDING ON THE LENGTH OF THE SUMMER SESSION YOU CHOOSE.
****IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT TALISMAN SUMMER CAMP****
QR CODE FOR TALISMAN SUMMER CAMP SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.
I DID RESEARCH DIFFERENT AUTISM/ADHD SUMMER CAMPS AND THERE ARE A FEW OUT THERE HOWEVER THIS CAMP FIT OUR NEEDS. THIS PARTICULAR LOCATION WAS CLOSER TO US AND I FELT MORE COMFORTABLE AFTER MY RESEARCH OF THE DIFFERENT CAMPS AND PROGRAMS THAT THE CAMPS OFFERED.
HERE IS A LINK YOU CAN CLICK THAT OFFERS A LIST OF OTHER AUTISM/ADHD SUMMER CAMPS YOUR CHILD/TEEN/YOUNG ADULT CAN ATTEND!