Growing up, I didn’t know about autism. Over three decades ago, it was a term that was as foreign to us as the internet, smartphones, and social media. Even without the knowledge, I lived autism every day. You see, I am autistic and so was my little brother.
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Back then, we were just considered “weird,” “strange,” and “shy.” Our mom had taken us to a multitude of doctors trying to find us the help and services we so desperately needed. It wasn’t until I was out on my own that my younger brother received his Autism diagnosis at age 10.
If I could go back even 10 years in time, there are many things I would want my twenty-something self to know about autism. More than that, there is so much I wish I could tell the many psychologist and psychiatrists we would see in the coming years about autism.
Fast forward to now, I am a happily married mom of four amazing children. Within our home, we have four autism diagnosis—all three of my biological children, and myself. My autism diagnosis came at age 33 after my children received their diagnoses. While my son received his diagnosis at 23-months-old, my daughters did not receive theirs until ages 8 and 11.
With modern medicine and understanding of psychology, early autism diagnosis are possible. These diagnoses now happen as early as 18-months-old, and the early interventions can be life-changing for so many. So, one would think that my family’s story would be something only seen in the past.
Now that I understand autism, for myself and my family, I have spent many years working with other families to help them receive the resources and support they need. While there are many stories of early diagnosis, there are just as many late ones.
As we are in autism awareness month, it is the perfect time to share the many things I want people to know about autism. While there are countless things, these are the ones that I feel are most important to change perspective. Knowing these few things will help provide autism acceptance and reduce the stigma families feel about pursuing a possible autism diagnosis.