I know you have heard of autism. I know you may think you know what it means. I know you probably know of somebody who is on the spectrum or has a child on the spectrum. I know you have probably seen feature stories or read articles about amazing autistic minds and talents. But I wonder if you know much beyond what you have seen on a TV show or what you’ve heard in passing.
Do you know autism can be nonverbal, but it can also be very verbal? Do you know autism can be anti-social, but it can also be very social? Do you know autism can be debilitating, but it can also be enabling? Do you know autism can be sensory defensive, but it can also be sensory seeking? Do you know autism can mean aversive to touch, but it can also mean needing touch and pressure?
Do you know autism can mean brilliant, but it can also mean challenged? Do you know autism can mean gifted, but it can also mean in need of special education? Do you know autism can look like rocking and jumping and flapping, but it can also look calm, collected and introverted?
Do you know autism can occur by itself, but it can also be accompanied by other disorders that can make it that much harder?
Do you know someone with autism may be able to read and write, but may never be able to talk? Do you know someone with autism may be able to talk, but may never be able to read and write?
Do you know autism can make it next to impossible to sleep? Do you know autism can result in aggression when over-stimulated or dysregulated? Do you know autism can mean overly friendly and unable to read social cues?
Do you know autism can mean speaking too loudly for the venue, but can also mean speaking too quietly to be understood?
Do you know autism can bring on extreme interests, but can also mean extreme disinterest in surroundings, people or toys?
Autism can mean he can’t look you in the eye, but it can also mean talking to you just a couple inches from your face or reaching out to hold a stranger’s hand.
Autism can mean bolting and wandering and flight risks, but it can also mean debilitating anxiety that makes it impossible to leave the house.
Autism can mean one day he needs snuggles at every opportunity, but the next day he may scream he hates everyone over and over again.
Autism can mean not being able to dress oneself, but can also mean taking off clothes when angry or uncomfortable.
Autism can mean slower processing time, but can also mean unbelievable memory.
Autism can mean excitement for life and unmatched joy, but it can also mean lifelong struggles and sometimes needing lifelong care.
Did you know autism is so much more than we know or understand and the spectrum varies widely from person to person? Did you know the challenges and joys of living with autism vary widely even from one day to the next?
Maybe you didn’t know. But now you know. And the next time you might be tempted to make a judgmental look or comment, you no longer have the excuse that you didn’t know.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by From Motherhood by Mandy Farmer. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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