The adage “don’t air family laundry in public” has caused many African-Americans to deny grief, pain, suffering, and mental illness. We’re a strong resilient people. If we survived slavery, surely we can overcome other ailments? Mind you, there are historical reasons why some tend not to seek medical attention or therapy. Science and medicine typically treated African-Americans as guinea pigs under the unfounded belief that we did not feel pain to justify operating on us without anesthesia. The stories of Anarcha, Tuskegee experiment and Henrietta Lacks warranted a healthy mistrust of the medical profession from the black community. Even today, studies show black children and adults do not receive the same pain treatment as their white counterparts. This mistrust of the healthcare industry has lead many blacks to only seek medical attention when it is urgent, typically too late for preventative care. Unfortunately, this mistrust hurts the black community when dealing with developmental disorders like autism where early intervention is key.
For more information on autism in the black community, read my latest article on the Huffington Post.