Navigating Autism: Recognizing Symptoms and the Diagnostic Journey for Black Parents.


As parents, the journey of understanding and supporting our children is unique and deeply personal. When it comes to autism, recognizing the signs early on is crucial for effective intervention and support. My son was diagnosed at age 2. But to be honest, I saw the signs after he turned one. I just wasn’t prepared to accept it. 

In this blog post, we will explore common autism symptoms and the diagnostic process tailored to the experiences of Black parents.

 Understanding Autism Symptoms:

 Autism manifests differently in each child, but some common signs include challenges in social interaction, communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and sensory sensitivities. 

One of the first signs that I noticed with Eliot was his lack of speech. He wasn’t making the sounds that toddlers his age were making. It’s essential to be aware of the diverse ways autism may present itself. However, it’s just as necessary to be honest about what we see within our child/ children.  Yes, it is hard to acknowledge that your child is different. But you are only hurting your child by denying them from getting the help that they deserve.

 Cultural Considerations:

   Acknowledge cultural nuances and variations in how autism is perceived within the Black community. Some behaviors might be misunderstood or overlooked due to cultural differences, making it crucial to approach autism awareness with cultural sensitivity.  In the African community, we are great at making excuses for things in our children. “ He is a boy. They don’t take as fast as girls.” “He’s your first child; he will grow out of it.” “My brother and cousin’s son were the same way. It’s okay.” One of the things that my mom used to say was, “Your cousin didn’t talk until he was 6. Eliot will be okay.” we want to be sensitive but be mindful that we do not make excuses and waste time. 

Early Intervention Importance:

   Those early years are critical. As a black parent, we may encounter unique challenges in accessing resources, whether it’s getting insurance to cover the cost of therapy or finding a provider that connects with your child. The sooner we get started with therapy, the better the outcome will be for your child.

Accessing Community Support:

   One of the things that I did after Eliot got his diagnosis was to find a Facebook community. This helped me a lot. These communities can provide valuable insights and encouragement throughout the diagnostic journey. I could ask questions and share my frustration. This blog is your community. I’m available to answer questions. However, I encourage you also to join those Facebook mom groups. Or find a support group in your community. I recommend contacting your local early intervention center to get more information on support groups in your city.

Educational Advocacy:

   One of the things that make having a child on the spectrum so draining is the fact that you, as the parent, have to go to war for the services that your child will need. You will have to advocate for your child. People might not like you, and that is okay. The right people will. You will have to fire a therapist, and that is okay. Understanding the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process and being an active advocate within educational settings can significantly impact your child’s learning experience. One thing that I always do, even now, is to take someone with me to every IEP meeting just in case I get overwhelmed and forget something. 

Culturally Inclusive Therapies:

   Explore therapeutic approaches that consider cultural backgrounds. Seek therapists and interventions that acknowledge and respect cultural differences, creating an environment where you and your child feel understood and supported. As I said before, it’s okay to walk away if your needs are not being met or request a new therapist. 

Overcoming Stigmas:

   Addressing any stigmas or misconceptions surrounding autism within the family and the community is vital. Start By fostering open conversations. I think it’s important to share the diagnosis when you are mentally prepared. Allow others to ask questions and educate them on things about your child. Enough for them to do their research on Autism. Can work towards creating a more inclusive and understanding environment for children with autism.

Resources for Black Families:

1. **Black Autism:**

   – Website: [Black Autism](

   – Dedicated to providing resources, support, and advocacy for Black families with children on the autism spectrum.

2. **National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI):**

   – Website: [NBCDI](

   – Offers programs and resources to promote healthy development and educational success for Black children, including those with autism.

3. **African American Autism Support:**

   – Facebook Group: [African American Autism Support](

   – A supportive online community where Black parents can connect, share experiences, and find autism-related resources.

4. **Diverse Autism Communities on Instagram:**

   – Follow accounts like [@autisminblack]( and [@blackautism]( for information, stories, and community support.

5. **Melody of Autism:**

   – Website: [Melody of Autism](

   – Focuses on empowering Black families affected by autism through education, advocacy, and community engagement.

6. **Books for Children and Parents: **

  “I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism” by Pat Thomas 

“The Sparkle Box” by Jill Hardie.

8. **Local Support Groups: **

   – Check with local community centers, churches, or schools for autism support groups catering to Black families. These groups offer a platform for sharing experiences and resources.

9. **Autism Society – African American Initiatives:**

   – Website: [Autism Society – African American Initiatives](

   – Provides information, resources, and support specifically tailored to African American families affected by autism.

10. **Culturally Inclusive Therapies: **

Seek out therapists and intervention programs that prioritize cultural competence. Local autism organizations may be able to provide recommendations for services that understand and respect the cultural backgrounds of Black families.

Remember to explore online and local resources to build a comprehensive support network for your family. Connecting with other Black families on similar journeys can be invaluable.

9. Self-Care for Parents:

 After Eliot’s diagnosis, I went through a phase of being depressed and feeling very alone, even though I was not all alone. You have to take care of yourself. Get into therapy. Try to do the things that you enjoy doing. Go for a walk, go to the movies, listen to music. Whatever keeps you grounded, try to do it.  Connecting with mental health resources within the community can provide the necessary support for navigating the challenges ahead.


Navigating autism as a Black parent involves a unique set of considerations. By raising awareness, seeking culturally inclusive support, and advocating for our children, we can ensure they receive the care and understanding they deserve. Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and your child’s unique strengths will shine with the right support and love.

You got this, and we got you🙌🏿


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