MEET THE GUEST:
Maria Davis-Pierre is the founder of Autism in Black Inc. She is a therapist, coach, speaker, author, and advocate. After going through the process of getting her daughter diagnosed at 18 months, Maria changed her specialty and began working heavily in the Autism community. In January of 2018, Maria launched her 2nd private practice Autism in Black Inc., which aims to provide support to black parents who have a child on the spectrum, through educational and advocacy services. Autism in Black Inc. is dedicated to bringing awareness and acceptance to Autism Spectrum Disorder and reducing the stigma associated with ASD in the black community.
Maria is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in the state of Florida. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors of Science in Sociology and went on to obtain a Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.
Maria’s passion is being an autism advocate with her mission being to bring awareness to the impact culture can have regarding an ASD diagnosis. You can go to http://www.autisminblack.org to subscribe to the monthly newsletter and check out all the other great resources on the site.
In this episode, Maria shares how her journey with autism began early when her daughter Malia was born premature and it was obvious to her by six months that Malia had sensory-related challenges. As a therapist herself, she knew the power of early intervention and pursued the support of several specialists and neurologists who refused to offer a diagnosis until she reached the age of three. Maria fought for this diagnosis by showing up in the office day after day until the doctor understood how serious she was, and surrendered. As she began to receive more in-home services, Maria became more glaringly aware of how culturally insensitive most providers are, which prompted her to start advocating for black parents of kids with autism. She knows how to thoughtfully address the fears and priorities of these parents because she is one. Maria encourages parents to stay present in their challenges by doing regular daily self-care that includes a personal check-in, prayer, meditation, exercise, and being committed to little things like eating a hot meal. She has also developed a self-care affirmation journal which can help you lay the foundation for daily self-care, complete prompts, routines, infographics, and calming coloring pages.
In this episode, we cover:
- Maria’s challenging journey to obtain an autism diagnosis for her daughter before the age of 1.
- How providers often fail to take culture into consideration as they offer services.
- Some practical tools you can use to make mama self-care a daily practice.
“I know often times as mothers-especially as black mothers we don’t like to ask for help because we feel that if we ask for help, then we’re not strong. The strength is in asking for help, knowing when you need help, knowing that you have a support circle that you can depend on.”