So your parental instincts were spot on? And let me guess, there was a whole lot of big phrases and new terms that were thrown at you all at once and you have no idea what to make of any of it. To top it off, you are a parent of a child of color; an identity that by itself is challenging enough. Now you have a diagnosis. Things are about to get a lot more complicated! But does it have to?
I’m Robin and for as long as you’ll allow, I will be your unofficial guide on all things special needs. As a mom with three children with different medical, behavioral, and educational challenges, I know all too well the overwhelming feeling of being hit with a slew of information while feeling very isolated among those whom we call our own. In communities of color, it can be very alienating when you even suspect that your child might be a little different. Culturally it has been ingrained in us to avoid any possible labels on us and our children, as those labels have in the past been used to categorize entire groups of people. The history of the public school system and communities of color haven’t been sunshine and roses either. And there still is an unspoken air of mistrust of medical providers leading to a stigma of mental and behavioral health in communities of color. All these things cause many of our children to go years without interventions and services they need to be successful. This, my friends, has to stop!
My goal with this blog is to share my experiences with Autism, ADHD, and speech irregularities in a real and honest way so that I can educate, encourage, and empower other parents of children of color with special needs. Know that you are not alone and that there is an entire community of people LIKE YOU. We will explore all the things you will need to know when navigating through your diagnosis- everything from finding the right kind of services for you, how to appropriately advocate for your child, the difference between an IFSP, an IEP, and a 504 plan, and how to go about everyday life helping your child and your family live their new normal.
Your child isn’t his or her diagnosis. It is our job to help them, and ourselves, understand and embrace this fact and celebrate the differences that make him or her special. A black bird might be seen as being bad or negative. However, in many cultures, the color black represents potential or freedom. Our children might be misunderstood, but with the proper guidance and nurturing, their potential is limitless.