TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — April is National Autism Awareness month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorder affects about 1 in 44 U.S. children.
And while the CDC notes that the disorder is 1.1 times more likely to affect white children than black children, a 20-20 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that Black children with ASD were diagnosed an average of more than three years after their parents expressed concerns about their development.
That's where Anita Whitby-Davis comes in.
She's the director of Blautism in Tallahassee.
It's a non-profit working in part to educate people both inside and outside of the black community about the barriers that keep children from being quickly and correctly diagnosed.
"Autism tends to be a secret held in the the African American community, and I don't want that," Whitby-Davis says. "It's what I call the secret of the diagnosis. ... And in that silence of the diagnoses, we've got to stop it, because the children are the ones that ultimately suffer from it."
She adds that undiagnosed autism can be mistaken for behavioral problems that can cause students to face unnecessary disciplinary action.
Blautism Education has several events planned this month to help raise awareness.
You can find them at MPAC's artcase in Railroad Square on April 24th from noon to 5pm.
You'll be able to join in on arts and crafts, visit with vendors, and listen in on a panel discussion from people on the autism spectrum.
You can also stop by the Cool Breeze Art and Jazz Festival this Saturday in Cascades Park where Mayor Pro-Tem Curtis Richardson is expected to recognize Whitby-Davis and the work she's done for those with autism in our community.