Concerns of An African American Special Needs Mother
Posted on 10/07/20 in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by Salina Miller
Black families have already identified our African American males as an endangered species. For that reason, everything we teach them is for survival. Dealing with the police is not an exception to this rule. We teach our black children to respond to all demands from the police with no questions or resistance. Even if the demands are unreasonable, disrespectful, and even unconstitutional. Again, the goal is for survival.
I have two sons, ages 20 and 16. One has a disability, one does not. When teaching my son without a disability how to respond to the police, it requires more explanation and breaking down the resistance that he may have, especially when he knows his rights are being violated because he is being targeted for being black. I am equally fearful for my son with special needs. The difference between my fear for my two sons is that one has more of an opportunity to survive a horrible encounter with police over the other. My fear is magnified more for my son who does not have that skill for survival. My son with a disability has to be protected by systematic changes in the community and within law enforcement.
Our first responders lack education and training, and seem to have a fear of not knowing how to deal with individuals with disabilities, circumstances, and situations that warrant police involvement. There are also cultural differences with people of color, so this amplifies the challenges that we already face as parents to children who are black and special needs.
Therefore, what we can do as a community is build partnerships with first responders, police and other local organizations that support individuals with disabilities.
Milestones Autism Resources is working to educate all members of our community by providing resources and training, to create a more educated support system for individuals and their families. We encourage families to:
1. Talk to local organizations like Milestones Autism Resources about offering trainings to law enforcement, individuals on the spectrum and families. 2. Go down to your local police department and introduce your loved one, tell their story and at the same time, bring awareness as a parent about people on the spectrum and what they may encounter. 3. Create safety plans for your family that include all the major players in their life. It is important that we become the change agents needed to help make our communities safer for our families.
Have questions or need help getting start? The Milestones team can help. Give our free autism Helpdesk a call at 216.464.7600 ext. 200
ABOUT THE WRITER
As Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, Salina Miller helps Milestones more effectively reach out to, partner with, and serve all people affected by autism across all of our programs. Salina is the proud mother of two sons, and is the founder of Mother 2 Mother which runs support groups for mothers of special needs children. She previously worked at The Word Church in an administrative capacity and as a Parent Rep for Warrensville Heights Schools.