GREENSBORO, N.C. — A Triad-based child psychologist is going the extra mile to protect children on the autism spectrum.
Dr. Barbara Bear is a certified autism specialist and child psychologist, who is currently studying to be a children’s legal advocate to defend kids inside the courtroom.
“I can be a child psychologist, but I also want to be a child legal advocate because I feel like they don’t have voices in the courtroom. The people that interview them may not be fluent in autism spectrum speech,” she says.
According to Bear, children with autism are ten times more likely to be abused than neurotypical children. She says communication can be a challenge for children with autism, and people interviewing them may not know how to effectively communicate with them.
Advocating for children with autism is personal for Bear as a mother of four. Two of her youngest children were diagnosed with autism. She noticed the signs and symptoms early on and chose early intervention to develop skills.
“He’s a testimony to how early intervention works. It’s a lot of specialists coming in, it’s expensive, insurance doesn’t cover it, but it’s the best investment you could make,” she says of her son.
Bear says it was difficult to find a school that offered the resources her youngest son needed. Once they found a program for him, the pandemic shut schools down. Bear worked to retain her son’s progress.
“I would develop curriculum for him, everyday,” Bear says.
She says children’s voices, especially those with autism, are often overlooked. In an effort to fight this, Bear began law school at Loyola University Chicago. In a few years, she will be an active children’s legal advocate to uplift children’s voices in the courtroom.
For more information on Dr. Bear’s extensive advocacy work, visit her website here.