My One

April is Autism Awareness month. I could not be more honored to share a very special interview here today.

My daughter, an amazing, beautiful teenager, who just so happens to have autism, shares her thoughts…

What does it feel like to have autism?

Strange. It feels like you can’t do everything that you want to do because you don’t fit in most of the time. You feel like you are trapped inside your own world.

What are some good things about having autism?

I get to go on a smaller school bus that is quieter than a big one. I get to relate with other special needs kids. I can understand little kids with autism more than other people can.  I get to be manager of my high school soccer team and I have a lot of jobs I do to help them.

What are some not so good things about having autism?

Sometimes you have meltdowns. The smallest thing in your routine can mess your whole day up.

Some people don’t understand you.

Sometimes you get helped too much and you don’t need that much help.

I really hate loud noises and fire alarms.

It is hard to know when to stop doing something that you are doing.

What do you want to tell people about your life as a teenager with autism?

I can’t deal with changes as easy as other people.

Autism makes it hard to concentrate.

Autism is an obstacle I have to overcome every day.

Even though it is hard to do homework you can still make it through school. I am getting all A’s and one B on my report card.

What would you tell other kids with autism?

Ask for help when you need it. Use your resources. Get involved in Special Olympics because that is how I made a lot of friends.

Even though you have autism you can still do what you put your mind to.

Autism is just a word, it is not you, it is just one word to describe you.

What would you like other people to know about people with autism?

That we are not different, that we are just the same as you.

We can do everything we want to do when we put our minds to work.

at the shore

Note from me:

As a mom, this was a bittersweet interview to conduct, painful and hopeful. Ashlyn shares so much strength and wisdom here but what she doesn’t share are the many struggles that make up her every day because she does not even realize they are struggles.

This is just life for her, a courageous, difficult, beautiful life.

Autism affects 1 in 110 children.

She is my one.

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  1. Nancy Percha says

    Dear Ashlyn,
    I am one of your Grama’s friends. She has told me so much about you and how wonderful you are! She is so proud of you. You are a wonderful courageous young women! It is truly so good of you to share your feelings with us. I have a friend who has a little boy who has autism also, and you have helped me understand a little more how he feels. You are doing so much good by helping others understand what they need to do to help people with autism.God bless you! You are such a kind sweet girl.
    Sincerly,
    Nancy

  2. says

    She is amazing, beautiful, and brave. This interview is so insightful…thank you both for sharing. I think many people have the misconception that children with autism do not have self awareness, this just proves that is not the case.

    “Trapped in your own world”…that pretty much says it all.

    Thanks to both of you! I believe the more people that read this, the more understanding and compassionate they will be. XO
    Melissa recently posted..Autism Awareness MonthFrom Early Intervention to Compassion and Support

  3. says

    What an incredible interview! Thanks so much for sharing your daughter with us. I am a teacher for kids with ASD. Most of my students are not able to express themselves in this way but I’ve had a couple who can understand their differences enough to explain to us what it can be like. So amazing.

    I found your blog through Confessions of a Dr Mom.

    I am blogging all month long about Autism Awareness. I hope you’ll stop by and spread the word!
    http://www.barbaramanatee.blogspot.com

  4. says

    Ashlyn, You have my favorite name of all time. I love it. If I had another baby girl, I would want to name her Ashlyn. You are wonderful and bright and I can tell how much you and your mother love each other when I read her posts. That’s why I’m especially glad I got to read a post from your point of view. Thank you for taking the time because I know teenagers? Are busy. I have a boy who will be 14 soon and a girl who will be 12 this summer and we are always busy. So nicely done.

    Jessica – You sure do make some beautiful, special children. All of them. Love to you. A lot.
    julie recently posted..Today call me prompt

  5. says

    What a fantastic look into your daughters life.
    My favorite quote, and one I think everyone should take away with them “Autism is just a word, it is not you,”
    How proud you must be.
    Leighann recently posted..Day 64

  6. says

    Your daughter sounds simply amazing and she is lucky to have you as her *one* mom.

    I love the beauty and wisdom of these lines:
    “Even though you have autism you can still do what you put your mind to.
    Autism is just a word, it is not you, it is just one word to describe you.”

    Many hugs to you both.
    Tonya recently posted..Project Smile – March

  7. says

    This is beyond awesome. I can’t even begin quoting lines because I’d copy the whole thing in. I hope my Audrey grows up to be like Ashlyn…she already shares the same repulsion to the camera flash :) Thanks so much for this!
    Lynn recently posted..This Is Me- Painted Blue

    • says

      Thanks Lynn, I was so proud of all that she said here and the way she expressed herself. Hearing her answers makes me wish I had asked her these questions a long time ago. Can’t wait to hear what Audrey has to say in a few years.

  8. Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds says

    This is touching and such a great resource for parents with young children. How valuable to have her personal insight!
    Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds recently posted..People think Im stylish!

  9. says

    Thank you so much, dear Ashlyn, for sharing your wisdom. This interview will help many to better understand autism; I know it has helped me. It’s not always easy to speak up about these things… sometimes we just want to keep our troubles to ourselves. BUT, I have learned (and you will too!), when you share your struggles with others, the burden becomes lighter. You are very brave to do this. I admire you! Thanks again…
    Deb recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – decadence

  10. says

    What an amazing daughter you have! Her answers to your questions are so well put. You must be very proud! Thank you so much for posting this! Autism is a scary word and I know your post of your interview will help many by lessening some of those fears. As an aside I am wondering if you and your daughter have ever watched the show Parenthood and if you have how you feel about the character Max?
    Thanks again for sharing!!
    :) amy

    • says

      We have watched Parenthood, well, I have. I think they do a great job with Max on that show and the struggles that he and his parents face. It is the first time I have seen a show portray a realistic individual with autism.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • says

      Thanks Dani, I think we should too. Maybe I’ll give her a regular feature, although this was a lot of work for her, I’m not sure I could get her to agree to more.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment Alexandra. I would love for her to write a book. She tried very hard to put her thoughts into words and came back to me with more and more feelings to share for this post. To say I am proud of her is such an understatement.

  11. says

    Ashlyn, You did a beautiful job here! I really loved learning more about you and your days through *your* words. You’re lovely!

    Jessica, This was incredible! *You* are incredible! You know that, right?! XO

  12. says

    Well said, Ashlyn. Not only are you a big help to your soccer team, but you have helped all of us know about autism. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. And, also. I really hate loud noises and fire alarms, too. Just like you!
    Shanon

  13. says

    Oh, what a very sweet interview…and very touching, with the questions coming from her mom. I can feel your love shining through, Jessica.

    My favorite line? “Autism is just a word, it is not you, it is just one word to describe you.”

    That right there says volumes. Nobody would describe me by only my hair color, the strength of my glasses prescription, or the crazy way I have to organize my spice rack. And nobody should define a person with autism with only that.
    Sherri recently posted..He Blinded Me with Science

  14. says

    Aw, this is great Ashlyn (and mom!) I love how you opened up to us here and let us know what it’s like to have Autism. You are a brave and beautiful young lady. And love your outfit to go for the soccer game, you look so lovely! :)
    Elaine recently posted..Dank Oooh!

  15. says

    Hi Ashlyn
    You have such a sensible courageous ‘voice’. Your answers are honest and helpful. Good on you- you have so much to offer- we – ALL OF US struggle in different ways to relate and achieve in this somewhat difficult world but it is that much more demanding for you. Great advice for others. You are impressive! Your parents must be so proud of you. It is great that you feel quietly good yourself, and that you have that ‘can do’ attitude.
    Oona recently posted..What makes a happy healthy learning environment

  16. Jennifer says

    Hi Ashlyn, I loved your post! Thank you for sharing your story with us. You’re such a gorgeous girl and so smart too. Great job on the grades and the positive attitude. You inspire!

  17. says

    Ashlyn,

    Thank you so much for writing this. This really helps me understand how kids with autism feel. I appreciate you sharing your experiences with us, and I’m so happy to hear how well you are doing. I think your tips to other kids will be very helpful for other families.

    Thank you again!
    Mama Track recently posted..Why is a Sippy Cup in the Wine Rack

  18. Dpringle says

    Thank you for sharing! You were very brave.

    I will share with my son, who has autism.

  19. Liz says

    Ashlyn,
    Just wanted to tell you again how great I think you are! I love your courage, honesty and openness. You’re a truly gifted young lady that I am so glad I met. You and your mom are both HUGE inspirations to me. :)

    Liz
    (Lucian, Zoe and Aiden’s Mom)

  20. says

    My daughter Maj hates the flash as well.

    Indoor photos? Her eyes tend to be closed.

    Sunlight also annoys her, so outdoor photos are always of Maj in her sunglasses.

    She has beautiful eyes.

    Just like you, Ashlyn.

    Thank you for sharing here today.

  21. says

    Amazing. Beautiful. My favorite quote: “Sometimes you get helped too much and you don’t need that much help.” What an incredibly reflective and grown up thing to realize!

  22. Kyle says

    Ashlyn is a rock star. I know I speak for everyone in saying that we’re all in awe of what she’s accomplished in the past, nearly, 16 years and how amazing of a young woman she has become. Couldn’t be prouder to be her uncle.

    “Autism is just a word, it is not you, it is just one word to describe you.”….beautifully said.

  23. says

    Wow, Jessica. Hearing those words from your child had to be so heart-breaking, even though autism is your reality. Kudos to her for being confident in herself despite her challenges.
    liz recently posted..Hey It&8217s OK- Friday

  24. says

    Jessica, this was so special. Thank you for sharing. It is really interesting to get a perspective of her life from her point of view. Congratulations to your daughter for her grades, that is such an accomplishment!

  25. says

    I truly enjoyed getting to meet such a beautiful young woman!

    Thank you for this look into the struggle but the beauty of autism. I love that you talk to your daughter about her autism, yet it is so apparent the trust in your relationship with each other that you face the good and bad together.
    Crayon Wrangler recently posted..Broken Strength

  26. says

    This is fantastic! Ashlyn has such an amazing sense of self – more than most teenagers!

    I love the line about not always needing help. I must remember that as Moe gets bigger.
    Jennie B recently posted..Lighting It Up Blue

  27. says

    Proud of BOTH of you for putting yourselves out there.
    What a wonderful interview, yes, truly your most special guest ever.
    We so look forward to meeting you when you get those tix in hand and head down to sunny Florida.
    Love from
    The girls at The Morgan House
    Nicole, Chelsea and Tas xxx

  28. says

    This is fabulous!!
    Give her our HEARTFELT thanks x 100 for sharing what it’s like FOR HER. hearing from her makes it so much “easier” to grasp…not that I can really imagine what it’s like but…aah. I’m rambling…thank you.
    Priscilla-The Wheelchair Mommy recently posted..Blog Party

  29. says

    What a great interview, Ashlyn! I have heard from my sister what a phenomenal girl you are. Reading through the comments, it’s great to see how your words are helping others. You should be proud of that. Thanks for sharing & keep up the good grades!
    Elena recently posted..My Little Swimmer

  30. says

    My BFF daughter has bipolar and Autism. My oldest son has bipolar and Aspie.. I know what you are saying. I am so glad that you told everyone who may not know, or for those who have just learned that their child is their one, that there is hope. There is a future and promise. Keep being you you are beautiful

  31. says

    Thank you Ashlyn for sharing! I’m not sure how much your words bring hope to parents of younger kids on the spectrum, who can’t really tell their parents what their autism makes them feel. You are an amazing young woman.
    Heather recently posted..Wrapped Right Around His Finger

  32. says

    Hi there. I’m an autistic adult and the parent of 2 autistic children. I came across your post on Twitter, and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading it. Please know that you are not alone, and that you are beautiful just the way you are. Wishing you both much success. :-)
    outoutout recently posted..outoutout- @PSBmad Aww thanks! -

  33. says

    This is wonderful. Thank you to Ashlyn for sharing. As a mum of a child with Autism who has also a number of other issues including extremely limited vocabulary it is so useful and insightful to hear someone with Autism talk about her own experiences. I cannot ask my own daughter and although of course they are two different girls and therefore have two different experiences it is still wonderful to hear Ashlyn speak so positively.

    I am sure there are times it isn’t always as straight forward but thank you again.
    Penbleth recently posted..Old movies- cheesy dialogue and woollen wraps

  34. says

    Ashlyn, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to today. Your mom is really something special, a very generous woman, and you are clearly following right in her footsteps.

    I have an eight year old son who has autism, and he can’t yet tell me, as clearly as you can, what he is thinking and feeling.

    Your words help to give me insight into his world, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are an awesome young woman. You go, girl!
    Varda (SquashedMom) recently posted..Y is a Crooked Letter

  35. says

    This was beautiful, ((hugs)) to you both. My son is 5yrs old and every day I wish I could understand him the way you just expressed yourself. Your words help, and I hope one day his words can help others as well.
    Lisa recently posted..The Wait Finger

  36. Nana says

    She is your one. She is many people’s one. She is amazing. She has a path because you have made one for her, brick by brick, and she walks the path.

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