EntSun News

Despite Rising Rates of Autism Diagnosis in Black Children, New Film Highlights How Black Families Systematically Struggle to Get Equitable Services

EntSun News/11022902
Navigating Autism In Communities Of Color Film
'Navigating Autism In Communities of Color' Aims to Share the Realities of How Parents Are Empowered to Take Action Despite Structural Inequities

ATLANTA - EntSun -- The new documentary film, Navigating Autism in Communities of Color, from Multiple Autism Collective, features the stories of six Black families in Atlanta, Georgia sharing their unique struggles accessing an autism diagnosis and locating quality services and resources for their children in a structurally unequal society.

Navigating Autism in Communities of Color emphasizes the determination of these six Black families for equitable access to services, their hope for their children's future, and their efforts to push for the acceptance of autistic people within their communities. "The film is just one page in a book, adding to the story about how people are navigating this challenge," says director John Thornton. " We want to get people in the room, to get them talking about it. We hope people want to learn more."

This documentary, created through an academic and community partnership inspired by autism inequities research conducted by Jennifer Singh and directed by John Thornton of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech, is produced in collaboration with Camille Proctor, founder of The Color of Autism Foundation. The Multiple Autisms Collective team endeavors to share a realistic landscape of the structural barriers and optimism Black families experience in navigating their lives after receiving an autism diagnosis. "The reason I chose to be part of this project was because I wanted to depict [the experience of raising a Black autistic child] as it is being lived," says Proctor. "Too often when we see documentaries they're kind of watered down, and I wanted to make sure [the audience sees] the raw emotions and frustrations of living in a [major] city like Atlanta [while] not being able to access things."

More on EntSun News
1 in 36 children in the U.S. are autistic.  Yet, according to one of the largest U.S. studies to date on the timing of an autism diagnosis, African American children, on average, do not receive an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis until three years after their parents initially voice concerns to their pediatrician. Comparatively, white children are diagnosed an average of six months earlier than African American children. Such a delay can impact eligibility for early intervention programs or delay services that can help with early child development. This study was led by Dr. John Constantino, Chief, Behavioral and Mental Health at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

After viewing the film, Constantino was impressed, proclaiming, "It was truly sensational! It was an overwhelming 'glass-half-full' representation of humanity, acceptance, and transcendence among courageous families of color who affirmed first and foremost hope and respect for the lives of their children and their families." He continues, "I believe that all families affected by autism will benefit from the experience of viewing such an affirmation of the human spirit."

"Structural inequities can shape the differences we see in autism diagnosis and access to services based on race and ethnicity," says Singh. "People aren't reaching their full potential. It's an injustice, and that's why we made the film."

More on EntSun News
The production team and several cast members are currently booking media interviews.



Eboné Smiley, The Smiley Effect

Source: Multiple Autisms Collective
Filed Under: Family, Education, Film

Show All News | Report Violation