One in 68 children is now identified with an autism spectrum disorder. However, the diagnosis means something different to each person and family affected by it. “If you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” Stephen M. Shore, EdD once said. In celebration of World Autism Awareness Day and National Autism Awareness Month, we asked the HuffPost Parents community on Facebook to tells us what autism is — and what it is not — in their unique experiences. Here are their answers.
Autism is confusing and funny and remarkable and scary and beautiful and misunderstood.
Autism is not your fault. — Shanell Mouland
Autism is a component of what makes her/him unique.
Autism is not the sum of all her/his parts. — Becca Blanks-Ratliff
Autism is the greatest lesson in discovering how strong I am as a woman, and a mother.
Autism is not something that makes my child less of a person. — Amanda Nelson-Van Wagenen
Autism is a disorder that affects the ability to participate in social interactions and communicate socially.
Autism is not the same as mental retardation. — Alycia Halladay, Ph.D., senior director of environmental and clinical sciences for Autism Speaks
Autism is an infectious laugh, feeling and giving everything to emotions, confusion.
Autism is not friendless, dull, what you fear it will be. — Denise Henry
Autism is complicated.
Autism is not something you should have to apologize for. –Natalie Gerber
Autism is heartbreaking, frustrating, joyous and exciting, all at the same time. It’s a guessing game, sometimes. Once you enter her autism world, you see things of wonder and beauty.
Autism is not the parents or child’s fault. It isn’t wrong, it isn’t bad parenting or a spoiled child. What you see is both parent and child doing the very best they can in a world that can be chaotic. — Flo Halter
Autism is a part of our son, and therefore a part of our entire family.
Autism is not going to tear us apart, instead it will serve as yet another bond that brings us closer together. — Jamie Krug
Autism is showing that brilliant minds think differently and we need to open up our eyes and see what they see to truly understand that.
Autism is not a cookie cutter diagnosis, its called a spectrum for a reason. — Laura Shrestha
Autism is seeing things in life differently than most people.
Autism is not a social death sentence. — De Reichle
Autism is a journey that opens your heart to a new world, a place I could never have imagined, even in my wildest dreams. Our autism world is wild, colorful, loud, entertaining, sometimes scary, intriguing, complicated, thoughtful, interesting and full of little miracles.
Autism is not easy, it’s not patient and it’s not always kind. Autism is not poor parenting. — Allie Smith
Autism is hard, isolating, adventurous, ever changing, beautiful, smart, amazing, interpreting, exhausting, loving.
Autism is not the end of the world, it’s the beginning. — Heather Coleen Swiger
Autism is just a label that gets my son what he needs.
Autism is not the most profound part of who he is. — Mariah DiPlacido
Autism is a disorder that locks my son into his own mind… It is confusing, heartbreaking, and maddening.
Autism is not what defines my son. It is not something to be whispered about behind our backs at the supermarket when he is having a meltdown. — Elizabeth Ann Garrison
Autism is people: fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, your friends or just a friend of a friend. Autism is people just like you who want the same things you want.
Autism is not catching; it’s not communicable. Autism is not curable; it isn’t a disease. — Jim Walter
Autism is a very different path of human interaction and experiencing the world more purely.
Autism is not violent, tragic, scary or even confusing. — Mary L Sheldon
Autism is happiness, understanding, joy, compassion, sweetness, capable, trust, and a million other tiny and huge words, acronyms, feelings, thoughts.
Autism is not hatred, bullying, the R word. — Heather Saltzer
Autism is understanding that certain sounds, social situations, and smells can upset him — and accommodating those needs — shows him he is intensely loved, and gives him the dignity and peace of mind all children deserve.
Autism is not a disease, medical, a life sentence, or a purely childhood condition. — Shannon Des Roches Rosa
Autism is a colorful puzzle, there is no black and white. It is a different experience for each individual. It is a challenge, it is a conundrum.
Autism is not an excuse, it is not a simple diagnosis, it is not the end of the world…. It is not easy! — Kelly Woodworth
Autism is bittersweet. You worry what your child’s life will be like and are overjoyed when they overcome obstacles.
Autism is not going away. — Yoly Ovalle
Autism is the most mysterious, misunderstood and profoundly dynamic of all the human conditions. Being an Autism parent is the single most difficult and yet rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced.
Autism is not being taken seriously. There are so many people with Autism and their families that struggle every single day, with little or no help and support. — Rob Gorski
Autism is a different way of relating to the world around you. It is a different set of experiences.
Autism is not what I would wish for my son, but it is not a monster or evil. We just have to learn a different perspective for our lives. –Amanda Orgel Ferguson
Autism is a whole different way of living in the world. Nothing is “normal.”
Autism is not a person who doesn’t know how to love. They just show their feelings differently. — Randi Neigeborn Arnett
Autism is our normal. Raising a child with autism is all that I know and I have the same dreams and expectations as any other mother has for their child.
Autism is not the worst thing that has happened to my son. The worst thing has been the lack of resources that will help him and being misunderstood by others. — Lisa Quinones-Fontanez
Autism is frustration and love and fun and sadness.
Autism is not the end, it is not easy, it is not going to determine my daughter’s future. — Jen Eastwood
Autism is a reevaluation of what it means to love, support, parent, finance, educate, and accept your child.
Autism is not absolute limitations, unhappy, solitary, incapable, unloveable. — Lisa Brooks Blanchard
Autism is loving your child for exactly who they are instead of who you thought they would be. An opportunity for those who live with these extraordinary people to view the world through an entirely different paradigm.
Autism is not a curse. — Theresa Noble-Ainsworth
Autism is a naturally occurring part of the human condition, and as such it can have both positive and challenging attributes. It is not possible to separate the autism from the young man; It is intrinsic to his sense of who he is, and who we know him to be.
Autism is not a precursor to mayhem or violence; it is not to be feared, but accepted. And with that acceptance will come the services and supports that may be necessary for individuals on the spectrum. — Jennifer Myers
Autism is frustrating, challenging, fascinating, scary, a different way of seeing the world, unconditional love, innocent, pure of heart, affectionate and more.
Autism is not contagious, not the only characteristic of a person, not anything to be ashamed about. — Beth Durbin Gotwalt
Autism is a differing neurology from what is considered “typical” by most, it is a different way of being. It allows my kids and me to observe the world in great detail, seeing a lot of the beauty that others miss.
Autism is not an illness or an epidemic, nor is it a health crisis. It is not something that needs to be combated. Autism is not about being less than others and it is not about being broken or damaged (we do not need to be “fixed”). — Renee Salas
Autism is tickles, laughs, sleepless nights, kisses, self-injury, beauty, frustration, joy, sadness, love.
Autism is not an end. — Barbara Bickel Hafer
Autism is a pain in the ass turned into blessings and wonderful gifts.
Autism is not anything to be dismissed, ignored, generalized. — Fayemarie Anderson Carter
Autism is knowing what you want to say, even if words fail you.
Autism is not the “big bad.” — Jen Pattison Troester
Autism is my children and it’s me, and probably someone you know and love, too. It’s expecting anything and always presuming competence.
Autism is not new, nor is it something to be feared. Autistic adults and children deserve acceptance, understanding and support. At their core, autistic rights are human rights. There’s room for all different kinds of minds. Love always, not fear. — Courtney Alison