A Thousand Worries

Black Women Mothering Autistic Sons

By Jeannine E. Dingus-Eason

Subjects: Education, Gender Studies, African American Studies, Health, Special Education, Anthropology Of Education
Series: SUNY series in Black Women's Wellness
Hardcover : 9781438496122, 235 pages, January 2024
Paperback : 9781438496139, 235 pages, July 2024

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Table of contents

Prelude: “I Am Caleb’s Mom”

1. Study Overview

2. The Making of Black Autism Mothers

3. “Black Mommas Need Action Items”

4. Black Mothers at the Intersection of Race, Class, Gender, and Autism

5. Education at the Intersection of Race, Class, Gender, and Autism

6. Black Is the New Autism: BAMs and Autism Representation

7. BAMs and the Future


Deeply engaging study of how fourteen Black mothers—including the author—support and advocate for their autistic sons.


Autism is rising across the United States but disproportionately affects Black children and their families. While White middle-class families tend to be the focus of autism research and services, A Thousand Worries tells the stories of fifteen Black mothers of autistic sons, including the author’s own story. Interweaving her personal experience and research findings, Jeannine E. Dingus-Eason examines the intersections of race, class, and gender and the complexities of parenting, care, and services for Black autism mothers, or BAMs. Dingus-Eason shows how BAMs leverage their faith, support networks, and knowledge of autism to advocate for their sons in cultural and sociopolitical contexts that consistently dehumanize, criminalize, and adultify Black boys. A Thousand Worries will give families, scholars, and practitioners in education, social work, human services, and health insight into not only BAMs' many concerns and challenges but also their strengths, strategies, and abiding love. At times moving, uplifting, funny, and raw, their testimonies illuminate the power dynamics between parents and providers, the value of supportive partnerships and mutual trust, and the need for culturally responsive services.

Jeannine E. Dingus-Eason is Dean of the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College.


"Dingus-Eason deftly captures Black mothers' savvy, resilience, agency, protectiveness, wisdom, and critiques in the face of systemic inequities. The book offers both a nuanced, strength-based view of Black families and a holistic portrait of the social service, health, education, and law enforcement sectors. Accessible, poignant, and compelling, it will appeal to scholars from multiple disciplines and Black families caring for children with autism." — Camille M. Wilson, coeditor of Advancing Equity and Achievement in America’s Diverse Schools: Inclusive Theories, Policies, and Practices