Autism Disparities for Black Families – Using Causal Loops to Explain the Dynamic Nature of Oppression

On July 24, 2019, Dr. Lovelace was invited to present her research at the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). The IACC is a Federal advisory committee that coordinates Federal efforts and provides advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Her presentation, Disparity Personalized: Centering the African American Voices of the Autism Community in a Research Framework, focused on understanding the lived experiences of Black individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and the dynamic nature of the systems that reduce their independence, access, and opportunity. Using System Dynamics, a process for the informal and formal modeling of the complex parts of a system, Dr. Lovelace and her research team presented the public look at a two-year project on autism.

This research accomplishes two goals, elevating the experiences of Black individuals with autism and their caregivers as well as premiering a method for linking together the parts of mixed-methods research so that it can be competitive at the federal level for funding support. This presentation highlighted work in her 2018 publication, Experiences of African American Mothers of Sons with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Lessons for Improving Service Delivery . Taking a community-engaged approach to mixed-methods, Dr. Lovelace’s presentation charged participants to consider

“A different way of looking at the social world that actively invites [us] to participate in dialogue…multiple ways of seeing and hearing, multiple ways of making sense of the social world, and multiple standpoints on what is important and to be valued and cherished.”

Greene (2007) p. 20

Stay tuned for more as Dr. Lovelace and her research lab continue to explore Community-Based System Dynamics.