MISSION AND VISION
Black Autism Support Society, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt resource support agency that addresses the intersection of race and autism. Support is addressed through four pillars: Social Justice, Individual/Family, Education, and Spirituality. Our mission is to address support gaps and challenge the narrative in supporting autism in the black community. Our vision is to provide individuals and families in the black community as well as those who serve them the tools and connections needed to increase quality of life.
Our motto is "Bridging Gaps and Making Waves". BASS strives to identify and address support gaps both outside and within the black community for families impacted by autism. We also are committed to challenging the narrative of support in the black church, schools, justice system, and more.
Over half of parents with children on the spectrum report having concerns their child will interact with law enforcement. In a 2017 report, 1 in 5 people killed by law enforcement suffered from a mental health disability or were having a mental health crisis. People of color are more likely to be killed by law enforcement regardless of disability. There are only a handful of states that have implemented mandatory autism training for local law enforcement. These factors create a potential volatile situation when law enforcement engage with black individuals with autism. BASS aims to highlight stories of individuals who have been harmed by law enforcement in the black autism community. We also provide resources and support for families with concerns and aim to challenge local law enforcement agencies to implement mandatory live and effective autism training for law enforcement officers.
BASS recognizes the autism experience looks and feels different for most black families as opposed to the majority culture. With generational trauma and pressure to hide any mental or physical challenges, black families have been conditioned to address issues in isolation. BASS strives to fill in gaps, addressing marriage realities, fatherhood, exhaustion, parenting, sexuality, and more. BASS believes autism may change how families function, but does not deny those families the ability to experience wholeness and joy. BASS engages on the individual level and with groups, offering guidance and support, and connecting families with additional resources.
Research on the School-to-Prison Pipeline revealed the increased probability that black children would be disciplined or even expelled from schools compared to their white peers for similar or lesser offenses. Therefore, black children who are challenged with cognitive abilities, emotional health, mental wellness, or socioeconomic concerns are often labeled negatively in school and not given much grace. BASS aims to challenge this narrative, by highlighting diagnosis delays, educating individuals and parents on their rights and the IEP process, holding open discussions with educators and parents, etc. A village can successfully help raise any child as long as each individual in the village sees that child as fully human.
The black church was birthed out of Africa and culminated in slavery. In its early forms, it was a place where black men were respected and held in high regard, a stark opposite from slavery and Jim Crow eras. This theme has been the very fabric of the black church for centuries. Recently there has been a push for inclusion of women, and LGBTQAI+ in some congregations. Differently abled congregants are often on the margins. Few black churches (typically mega churches in autism clusters) have formed a functioning special needs ministry. As the incidence of autism continues to increase, BASS challenges the black church to understand the role of individuals with autism in the church's long term survival. BASS advocates for these churches to recognize the needs of their differently abled congregants and seek logical and effective means to meet those needs.