Meet Debi and her 17-year-old daughter Adora! Adora is diagnosed with autism and hydrocephalus. Here, Debi shares with us about their journey together and the significance of representation for Black girls on the autism spectrum.
-Tell us about Adora. Her personality. Her interests. As her mother, what made her special from the time you held her to the young woman she is becoming today?
Adora; the youngest of 4, is a happy & loving,17-year-old who loves to doodle & create comic strips. She is a wiz with coding applications, especially SCRATCH. She is interested in the world of the Super Mario brothers and Disney animated movies. Her most recent favorites are Ron’s Gone Wrong and Big Hero 6.
We were told that Adora would only live 36 seconds after birth. You see she proved them wrong! We celebrate every day that she is on this earth.
-Black girls are underrepresented when it comes to having autism. Now there are a few contributing factors—but certainly not limited to socioeconomic challenges, healthcare bias, and gender-race inequality. Not to mention, black families are usually not rushing to the pediatrician. Throw in history’s dark past of experiments on our people...and, well, culturally we do not like to believe that "something is 'wrong' with our children." What are your thoughts on this?
I strongly believe that socioeconomics, lack of education & knowledge of resources are contributing factors in properly identifying girls with autism. Culturally we do not like to believe that "something is 'wrong' with our children." However, black families who delay the evaluation process are missing valuable resources and services that would enhance their child’s life.
-On a final note, children have a way of teaching us something about ourselves. What has Adora taught you?
Small, genuine acts of kindness go a long way. Adora makes it a goal to speak to everyone she encounters. She’s also taught me that every day is THE DAY to give out a compliment, whether it is to say, “I like your shirt” or “Nice hair color!”
Interview conducted by Anastasia Ford, DPSS—Akoma Cares