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Our Mission


Friends of Zyion seeks to positively transform the lives of children of color diagnosed with autism or other neurodivergent disorders, and those that care for them, through providing resources, services and collaborative partnerships.

Our Vision


Friends of Zyion envisions a world of infinite opportunities for children of color with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and those that care for them.


Friends of Zyion was founded by author, mental health and youth advocate, Derrick Jakolby Washington in January 2023. The organization was founded and named after Washington’s niece, Zyion, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. After a trip home to visit, Washington attended a gymnastics class with his niece and witnessed the instructor give every student in the class an award, except Zyion. To make matters worse, when they arrived home, Zyion (unable to fully articulate her emotions) began to play a cartoon on repeat that essentially described how bad it felt to be left out. Washington states that this "broke his heart." In that moment, Derrick wanted to write an affirmation to his niece to encourage, uplift and acknowledge his family’s love for her. From that affirmation the book, “A Special Little Girl” was birthed.

Washington also began researching organizations that support children diagnosed with autism, specifically those that work with children of color. He was appalled to find that there weren't many. Understanding the lack of resources afforded to children of color diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Washington wanted to curate a space that would address these inequities and provide infinite opportunities for children and their families. Friends of Zyion is meant to be a resource to the families and communities that need support the most.

Teacher and Young Student


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