Meelah Williams: Advocating for Autism Awareness
Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson. The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans. Please feel free to send them questions via email@example.com. We promise to keep it anonymous.
Best known as the lead vocalist of the popular ‘90s trio 702, Meelah Williams has been working hard to revitalize her career and is looking forward to the April 23rd premiere of her new platform, R&B Divas Atlanta on TV One at 10/9c. As mom to Zac, a 5-year old son she shares with Musiq Soulchild, she is also on a mission to bring awareness to autism and developmental delays. We talked to Williams about her amazing journey in music, motherhood and reality TV.
JET: Many know you as the lead vocalist of the multiplatinum group 702 that dominated the ‘90s. Tell us a little bit about what you have been up to since the group disbanded?
Meelah Williams: 702’s last album was released in 2003 and since then I have just been staying under the radar doing appearances with other artists and co-writing. I also just released a children’s album called We Are Different and it’s available on iTunes and Amazon right now. It was inspired by my 5-year-old son. He’s means everything to me and I’m so motivated and inspired by him.
JET: What impact has being a mom had on your career and your goals?
MW: I’m more driven now than ever by my son, Zac. It has motivated me to do something more. I realize that my purpose here on Earth is not about me. It’s bigger than me. It’s amazing how God works. Now I see that I have a platform and I have a voice and now I can use it for more than just selfish gain … I’m just so excited!
JET: Your son has also inspired you to also become very active in raising autism awareness. What has that journey been like for you?
MW: He was diagnosed in October of last year with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). We’ve had him in different therapies since he was quite young, even before the autism diagnosis. It was good that we started early intervention, which is very conducive to his development. We’ve had him in speech therapy and occupational therapy for a while now and he is doing well! I have a foundation now that I just established called P.R.O.U.D (Parents Reaching Out to Understand Developmental Delays) and I just want to be a support system for parents of special needs children, because it’s tough.
JET: Did you notice something was different with the development of your child, or was it hard to know what to look for as a first-time parent?
MW: In the beginning, he was fine. He was walking really early, and babbling all the time. Things seemed perfectly normal. At about 12 months, his dad, his pediatrician, and I noticed that he wasn’t saying ‘Mama’ yet, and not really saying anything recognizable. That’s when they suggested we enter him into speech therapy. As time went on, we learned that he had developmental delays with his language. He’s made such progress, but still has a way to go.
JET: What would you say to a parent who has just received the diagnosis that their child has special needs, or developmental delays?
MW: Don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault! Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. You always try to do your best: going to appointments, taking vitamins, eating healthy and you think if you are doing everything you can that you will be exempt from having anything but a healthy child, but ultimately it’s just about God’s will. It’s okay to talk about it, seek help and gain knowledge. I’m just grateful that I have the platform on R&B Divas to share my story and show what I go through raising a special needs child and bring awareness to it. Just know that special children are given to special people!
JET: Speaking of R&B Divas, what has reality show life been like for you?
Meelah: It’s been an experience! It has been a lot of fun and you never know what to expect. It was well worth it and I felt like it was very therapeutic.
JET: What can we expect to see this upcoming season on R&B Divas Atlanta?
Meelah: Everybody has their own story and goes through their highs and lows. You’re definitely going to laugh. But I think you’ll see a very nice variety of different types of women aiming for the same thing- independence in this industry. I hope that I can bring younger fans and a new demographic to the show.
Don’t forget the Season Premiere of R&B Divas Atlanta Season 3 is on Wednesday, April 23rd on TV One at 10/9c!
(Feature Image Photo Credit: Alex Martinez)
It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!
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Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall Magazine and host the Urban Housecall Radio Show. For more from the doctors, visit their website at www.urbanhousecallmagazine.com, like them on Facebook UrbanHousecallMagazine, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!