27TH Annual Child and Adolescent Mental Health Conference

The Minnesota Association for children’s mental health (MACMH) gathered at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) to host the 27TH Annual Child and Adolescent Mental Health Conference, where they featured 85 workshops centered on new, upcoming information and resources for families with children living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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Currently, Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 36 children, according to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) 2020 statistics. This number is elevated from the prior 2018 data, where 1 in 44 children were diagnosed. More and more children are experiencing the disorder, making the need for community resources and knowledge is to expand.

Sheletta Brundidge, CEO and founder of SHElettaMakesMeLaugh.com a social justice production company, and mother to three children with autism, was made aware of the lack of representation regarding minorities with special needs as main characters in children’s books, so she acted.

“As a parent, I need to hear from these professionals. I need to know the latest information in research. I need to know the tools that they’re using and the new devices,” says Brundidge. “It’s not just about getting the kid the help or getting the kid better. If they go back to the home and the parents are not educated about the tools and resources that the therapists are using to help the children grow and develop along the autism journey.”

It was her daughter’s lived experience that inspired her to create children’s books of awareness and inclusivity toward minority children with special needs. Brundidge has written four books: Cameron Goes to School; Daniel Finds His Voice; Brandon Spots His Sign; A Walk to the Store.

“We’ve got this book because before that all the books that were coming out about autism were for parents.” continues Brundidge “My daughter’s book helped open up communication. It was really about educating her friends about autism and what to do and how you can be a helper.”