How to Help a Child with Autism + Overcoming Racial Disparities in Healthcare (with Stephanie Keeney Parks)

In this podcast (episode #315) and blog, I speak with UCLA doctoral student Stephanie Keeney Parks about healthcare disparities in America, managing autism, changing the mental healthcare landscape, advice for parents with autistic children, and more!

Based on her own experiences as a mother to an autistic child, Stephanie decided to focus her anthropological research on autism and mental healthcare in America at UCLA, focusing on racial disparities in American healthcare.

Disability doesn’t just happen in the home. It happens at church, at swimming lessons, at school, at the grocery store and so on. It is all the time, everywhere. The study of anthropology helps us study what disability and healthcare looks like for individuals and families on a day-to-day level, and how to improve access to necessary services for ALL people.

When it comes to disabilities, examining the language we use and the underlying ideologies that shape our thinking is so important. What do different labels mean to different families? And what do these labels mean to clinicians? 

As Stephanie notes, many individuals and families have to deal with racial disparities in healthcare, which not only impacts how they access health services, but also how they are treated by healthcare professionals. This is why we need to make space to engage with the different ways healthcare is addressed globally, and work to make healthcare more equitable for all people. We need to educate not only the people seeking access to different health services, but also healthcare professionals in both academic and clinical environments. 

For more on autism, health disparities and mental healthcare, listen to my podcast with Stephanie (episode #315) and check out her website. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).    

To learn more about how to manage your mental health and help others, join me at our 7th Annual Mental Health Solutions Retreat, December 2-4, 2021! The core focus of this conference is to give you simple, practical, applicable, scalable, and scientific solutions to help you take back control of your mental health, help others, and make impactful changes in your community. You will also learn how to manage the day-to-day stressors of life as well as those acute stressors that blindside us. Our goal is to address your most pressing mental health concerns, help you find answers, and equip you with the knowledge and resources you need to make the change from a life of barely surviving to one where you are thriving. Register today at! 

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Podcast Highlights 

2:30, 10:45, 34:00 Why Stephanie’s anthropological research is so important 

3:22 Stephanie’s own experiences as a mother to a child with autism 

5:30, 11:50, 19:50 Racial disparities in healthcare & what this means for many families 

16:00 How the autism label can fail many people 

17:30 Language & disability: how are they related?  

24:50 How we can start addressing inequities in healthcare  

26:40 Why context & a person’s whole story is so important in healthcare 

28:00 Why medical education needs to change  

39:20 Advice for parents of color with autistic children 

This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.   

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact 

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