April 10, 2015

Autism is a Dirty Word.

author pic for autism piece

Autism is a dirty word in my house.

I’ve tried to make autism a positive attribute and something for my daughter to embrace for her uniqueness—but it hasn’t worked. The reminder that there is something reportedly “wrong” with her just makes her feel awful about herself.

Why would I want to do that?

So, no ribbons, no shirts, no wristbands showing love and support for autism.

And you know what? It’s okay.

We don’t need to embrace autism—I just need to embrace my daughter.

Autism doesn’t define her as a person.

Yes it’s a diagnosis she has and it has helped to get the services she needs. But my daughter decides what defines her. She chooses her look, her style, her humor, her interests, her silliness and her famous sarcastic saying of “Don’t judge me!”—which I love and cracks me up every time she says it.

The thing with autism is that, if you’ve met one autistic child, then you’ve met one autistic child.

You can’t pigeon hole them and stuff them into a box, for every single child on the spectrum is different and has different issues to deal with.

It’s a myth that all autistic children are antisocial. That is one of the things my daughter longs for the most—to have friends. The problem lies with the other kids and parents isolating her and making her feel weird and worthless.

Teach your children love and compassion for every person, so that no one has to feel this way.

It’s another myth that autistic children are not empathic.

My daughter cares so deeply for other people that she is overwhelmed by her feelings, to the point where it causes her to just shut down.

We are constantly working on skills and learning different ways to cope with different issues. I don’t always talk about them—it’s just something that is a part of our daily lives and has become our normal.

I think the hardest thing that I’ve had to deal with is certain people and family members thinking that my daughter is not autistic. It really hurts to hear that, because it negates our struggles and triumphs.

So, please don’t ever tell a parent that—even if it sounds like a positive statement to you.

You will never ever know the struggles, until you have dealt with autism first hand.


Relephant Reads:

The Truth About Autism Awareness

How to Love Someone on the Autism Spectrum


Author: Christina Gand

Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll/ Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of the author, flickr


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Christina Gand