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For the final #BlackHistoryMonth feature, we want to introduce Chiquita Hubbard. A mother, a nurse, an advocate, Chiquita wears a lot of hats. Her son Jordan attends the ACEing Autism program in Williamsburg, VA and she picks up her cousin Robert so he can take part in it as well. When her children were first diagnosed, Chiquita felt as much a sense of relief – to have a diagnosis – as she felt overwhelmed by the newly founded responsibilities. “Raising children is a challenge but it brings out the best in you, I believe.”

Chiquita travels 45 minutes from her house to Williamsburg so her son and cousin can participate in the program. “I feel that resources are limited, and I had to travel to have my son engage in recreational activities. I had to locate the resources myself, they were not advertised to those in my community.”

As an African American woman, Chiquita feels that raising children on the spectrum has been even more complicated. “I feel judged and obligated to explain my child’s behavior and disability to others because of their lack of knowledge. It’s also scary for me because my son is oblivious to the dangers and prejudices, which makes children diagnosed with a disability more likely to be victimized.” 

To help her son, Chiquita teaches him to remain calm and stay close, especially when they are out in the public. She also has a proposal from her group asking her community, emergency personnel, and businesses to work together to share information and resources that could aid the disabled.I want to work together to ensure that no one is neglected in receiving assistance that could benefit them,” Chiquita revealed.

In order to help others in her situation, Chiquita founded the Living With Disabilities organization so other families could find the resources necessary to help them, all in one place. “I started my support group because a lot of people felt alone and unaware of resources that are said to be for everyone but exclude us,” Chiquita explained. “I wanted to help others in the community that are disabled by providing them with resources or outlets to show them that we can live with our disabilities.”

By sharing her story, Chiquita hopes to continue the discussion on what it means to be African American within the autism community. She also wants to show the efficacy of the resources available to families affected by autism. “Robert is grateful for an outlet where he gets to be active and socialize. He built his confidence and even made a friend,” she tells us. “Jordan learned how to create and follow a schedule and directions and discovered that he doesn’t have to be intimidated by trying new things.”

In addition to all her roles, Chiquita is also a trained advocate with the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. When asked how she juggles being a mother to two children on the spectrum, a nurse, and her advocacy work, she quickly chimed in: “I don’t allow myself to slow down because I don’t have the option to do so.”

Thank you for everything you do Chiquita!