For Danyale Sturdivant and her son Joshua, an afternoon walk around their neighborhood is the perfect ending to the day, and a chance for Joshua to showcase his impressive knowledge of dogs.
“I think it’s Bernese mountain dog mixed with something,” he said to his mother.
“What kind of dog is that?” Joshua asked a neighbor.
“It's a Bernese mountain dog with a little bit of poodle,” came the answer.
Joshua has lived with autism since infancy, but it wasn’t until their recent move to the Capital Region that his mother noticed a lack of resources and providers that identify with her son.
“There is an intersect between race and disability, and that’s what we walk with everyday,” Sturdivant said.
It’s why she founded the organization Living Autism Out Loud.
In between her job as a social worker and full-time mom, she works on presentations to educate service providers for autistic people of color.
“I’m hoping that providers will be culturally responsive and are asking those engaging questions to bring families of color into their service,” she said.
The initial idea for the nonprofit was sparked by Joshua in 2018, but it was her late mother's words of wisdom that played a huge role in getting it off the ground in January.
“She always told me, 'you fought to be here, and Joshua’s a fighter.' And I think about that and what she must have gone through all those years ago when services were not readily available,” Sturdivant said.
She’s hopeful her work will provide a wider access to resources, so families similar to her will feel they never have to walk alone.
You can find out more about her organization on its website, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.