Empowering Black Autistic Children: Revamping Michigan’s Education



Black children with autism often face delayed diagnoses due to biases that misinterpret autism symptoms as normal behaviors. Michael Griffie, a father of a child with autism, aims to raise awareness about these issues and has joined the board of the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM) for that purpose. The Skillman Foundation, an advocate for educational equity, has granted $100,000 to AAoM to dismantle systemic barriers hindering equitable educational opportunities for students with disabilities in Michigan.

Delayed Autism Diagnosis in Black Children Linked to Biases

Black children with autism face a lengthy diagnosis process, primarily due to biases that wrongly categorize signs of autism as typical behaviors. Misinterpreted conditions include delayed language skills, sensitivity to slight changes, repetitive movements like hand-flapping or body-rocking, and intense interests.

Autism Advocate Calls for Increased Awareness

Michael Griffie, a father of a child with autism, board member of the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM), and experienced advocate, is striving to increase awareness and understanding of autism, especially in Black communities. Griffie shares his experiences raising his son Ethan, who showcases common autism indicators such as jumping and flapping during public outings like basketball games.

Education Equity Dialogue for Children with Disabilities

Michigan organizations emphasize inclusive education for children with disabilities. The Skillman Foundation and AAoM have partnered to tackle concerning statistics and obstacles facing these children. The Skillman Foundation, an established advocate for educational equity, has granted $100,000 to AAoM to support initiatives addressing systemic barriers in education.

Challenges in the Education System

Colleen Allen, President and CEO of AAoM, stresses the need for reform in Michigan’s education system. Allen cites Michigan’s low ranking nationally for education and alarming graduation rates for students with disabilities. The AAoM is working to spread awareness about the proper handling of cases involving children with disabilities and providing parents with effective advocacy strategies.

The Role of Parents in Advocacy

Parents play an essential role in advocating for their children’s right to a quality education. Unfortunately, some educational institutions do not consistently comply with these laws, emphasizing the importance of initiatives like those funded by The Skillman Foundation. Parent involvement in this discussion is crucial as they can provide a nuanced understanding of the gaps and effective strategies to address them.

The Autism Alliance of Michigan’s Impact

With The Skillman Foundation’s grant, AAoM will enhance its efforts to champion equitable education for children with special needs. Working to address systemic issues and fostering collaboration among various stakeholders, AAoM aims to make Michigan a top 10 state for special education outcomes. Contact AAoM at 877-463-2266 (AAOM) or email navigator@aaomi.org for resources, providers, and information.

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