Quality of education services
The second front in the battle to treat autism is via educational services. This can be done privately, however due to high costs most receive services via their local public school district. Their in lies the challenge.
It is well known and documented that urban school districts and even some older inner ring suburban school districts are under funded and in dire need of finances and even restructuring. Most serve a high percentage of children living in poverty and those who are not English proficient. This requires additional funding to provide these extra services, however funding is usually not adequate. Since schools are funded largely by local property taxes middle class suburban districts have seen their tax base grow while older districts have seen them shrink.
These days the best way to get your child access to better services is to move to a well funded school district. However this is nearly impossible for the poor and for many working class families because they simply cannot afford to live in the areas with the quality of services they need.
Discrimination in School Discipline/Diagnosis
Due to many factors there is the perception in America that Black youth are generally unruly, criminal, and frequent discipline problems. This is especially true for young Black boys. For lack of time, space and debate this web site will not get into the factors that cause this point of view but will recognize it as being an accurate perception.
The fact that this perception exists causes additional problems when it comes to properly diagnosing autism in African American children. Since it has been documented that Autism is about four times more common in boys than girls you can see how this all ties into the bigger issue. Black children with autism are more often misdiagnosed with other disorders or behavioral problems. Many times its ADHD, organic psychoses, mental retardation, or conduct disorder. Other times its viewed as just bad behavior and a lack of "home training' and therefore ignored.
Although it’s the doctors who usually see the first signs of autism, it’s the school districts who provide treatment for those who cannot afford private treatment. Since health insurance does not cover most autism related services most Black children are served by their local public school district.
It is suggested that parents get as involved as possible with their children’s education and that goes especially for those receiving special services.
Parents must know their rights and be familiar with the laws. African American parents need to attend all meetings regarding the education, progress, and changes in services for their children. There is always a way to accomplish this. Do not be afraid to reschedule or debate. Also meeting can be conducted over the phone if necessary.
Involvement is absolutely necessary regardless of the location or reputation of the school district. A parents failure to attend meetings give educators the impression they don’t care. In many cases the system will take that same attitude. But if you get to know the teachers, administrator, and specialist well, they will be aware of your expectations and usually will do their best to make sure you are satisfied. This works with general education students as well