Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

LAWRENCE – Miranda Carman could not acquire a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder for her son till he was previous his fourth birthday. Following years of waiting, she hoped her son’s diagnosis would lastly open the door to intervention solutions.

But Carman, a Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen and licensed clinical social worker, quickly discovered that there was only a single applied behavioral solutions provider accessible in her location of Oklahoma, and her insurance coverage would not cover her son’s remedy. To access care, Carman left her job to function for the Indian Well being Service, which provided insurance coverage that would cover her son’s therapy.

It is sharing stories such as this one particular that are the foundation of Black Feathers, a new podcast with ties to University of Kansas analysis that supplies a platform for discussions on disability inside tribal nations. The podcast is providing a reside episode on March 21.

The show is hosted by Cherokee Nation citizen Crystal Hernandez, Psy.D., M.B.A., and Choctaw Nation citizen Shauna Humphreys, M.S., L.P.C., each authorities in mental overall health. Episodes concentrate on Native American experiences with intellectual disabilities, mastering disabilities, mental overall health, anxiousness issues and healthcare access, amongst other subjects. It is the only podcast by and for Native Americans focused on intellectual and developmental disabilities, Hernandez mentioned.

“A lot of instances, we are stripped of our voices, and solutions and choices are produced devoid of us,” added Hernandez, who is a mother of an autistic son. “It’s definitely vital that we’re heard or observed for who we are, and that items are not constructed about us, for us—but are constructed with us, and by way of us.”

Hernandez is the executive director of the Oklahoma Forensic Center and is a board member of the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma. Humphreys is a licensed specialist counselor and an advocate for mental healthcare in tribal nations. She is the behavioral overall health director for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She also brings her experiences as a mother of 5 young children to the podcast.

Hernandez mentioned there are lots of missed possibilities for additional inclusive and additional accessible solutions for developmental disabilities in Native American communities.

“We have to do far better as a men and women and as a technique,” she mentioned.

In search of facts

Black Feathers grew out of a will need to gather facts about tribal communities across the U.S. in a way that was also culturally sensitive. Information is essential to show policy makers and other folks who could allocate sources what solutions are necessary, and how supports will need to be structured in a way to be culturally rooted and proper, Hernandez mentioned.

Shea Tanis, associate analysis professor, leads the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities. In 2018, an advisory group to the project requested that researchers companion with tribal communities to comprehend the journey of Indigenous men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their households, Tanis mentioned.

“These are not communities that normally get captured in our information,” she mentioned. “So, the genesis came from our group wanting to investigate additional.”

For instance, only one particular-quarter of autism intervention research supplied information on the race and ethnicity of participants, according to a study published in Autism in January 2022 that looked at information from additional 1,013 research from 1990-2017. For these research in which race was identified, the assessment located white participants produced up 64.eight% of the total portion studied. This was distantly followed by Hispanic/Latino participants at 9.four%, Black participants at 7.7% and Asian participants at six.four%. There was only a single Native American participant identified across all research surveyed.

As plans for the analysis by way of the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities project had been beneath way, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the group to believe differently about how they could companion with tribal nations.

“What we did rather is began obtaining a pivot conversation about options,” Hernandez mentioned. “And so, from that, I mentioned, ‘Well, what about a podcast?’”

To collect information, the podcast has a two-prong strategy. 1st, Hernandez and Humphreys mentioned the podcast serves as a platform for men and women from any federally recognized tribal nation and from non-federally recognized tribes to speak about their experiences, to really feel significantly less alone and be empowered to share their voices.

Second, Tanis mentioned, a kind on the Black Feathers website offers a space for tribal citizens to contribute about their experiences connected to disabilities.

“It will assist us develop vital mass to drive innovation toward culturally-rooted solutions and supports by way of information,” Tanis mentioned.

Storytelling concentrate

Hernandez mentioned that she and Tanis have had lots of conversations about meaningful methods to attain in, align and generate stories out of information and out of stories themselves. Private stories, they agreed, would be central to the function.

“In the native culture, storytelling is substantial,” Humphreys added. “And a podcast is possibly a contemporary way of storytelling.”

As a guest of the third episode of the podcast, Carman spoke about how her son, like lots of young children with autism, loved the water. Also, standard of autistic young children, he loved to wander.

“It was the scariest issue as a parent,” mentioned Carman.

Carman’s story illustrated the every day stresses of parenting an autistic kid in a way that raw numbers do not usually reveal.

“I imply, the magnitude of that anxiety, and that anxiousness, is difficult to describe,” Hernandez mentioned. “It’s just a level of be concerned that unless you have knowledgeable it, you will in no way comprehend it.” 

Humphreys hopes the podcast assists lead to far better solutions for men and women who will need them. 

“And not just our loved ones members, but our complete tribe, our communities, the state, the United States. Let’s just preserve it going. Let’s hope it has a ripple impact,” she mentioned. 

Listeners also can register to participate in a reside webinar version of the podcast that will be held on Tuesday, March 21. Visit to participate. To subscribe and listen to Black Feathers episodes, visit

By Editor