Autism and Acceptance

It is a strange experience, going to a school to talk about your child’s “educational plan.” Whether the meeting goes good or bad, the process itself is somehow draining. To be honest, after 14, almost 15 years of sitting around tables with teachers and therapists of varying specialities I have become an expert at blocking out what I don’t want to hear or numbers I would rather not focus on.

At our most recent meeting I let my guard slip, I glanced at numbers I have long since decided are unimportant and by the time the meeting was over I found my crazy-self googling what they meant before my daughter arrived with her backpack in hand.

With every step we took down the noisy high school hallway I felt out of place. Aside from feeling like I was trapped in Abercrombie rather than wandering through Ann Taylor, I felt the numbers, the labels constricting the line we walked.

My daughter led the way, leaning towards her bag to cover one ear, crunching her shoulder to protect the other. Homecoming festivities were booming through every hallway and it was all I could do not to track down the PA system and ask for silence because the noise was too much for her, too much for both of us.

She maneuvered crowded halls and I brought her attention to students saying hello, asking where she was going, telling her to have a good weekend and commenting on her cool soccer shirt. In a school of thousands so many know her and love her.

My daughter may be 1 in 88 but she is not numbers or charts or progress reports. She is a brown-haired, blue-eyed girl  who is loved by everyone who takes the time to look past a label. 

go sign


At Childswork today I’m discussing our decision to talk, or not talk, about autism with Ashlyn. Would love to hear what you think of our approach.




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  1. says

    Thank You for your courage! And your support of my new book! I hope that it is extremely helpful to families who feel alone so that they do not have to go through what we endured, as I’m certain you know. You are an inspirational person & I hope to see you on my g+ LIVE Show once it gains some steam for this Fall/Winter :) Always takes time ….right. Blessings to you and yours. Meredith

  2. says

    You are doing such a fabulous job at raising a beautiful individual…individual. She is not a diagnosis. She has a diagnosis but that doesn’t define her beauty.
    Love you both
    Kimberly recently posted..When Words Fail

  3. says

    So I know I commented on your FB post the other day on this, but I haven’t read it until now. So I totally didn’t even see the part that you tune out as well. If it’s something new, I don’t. But to hear it all repeated over and over. . .and when the therapist starts talking about Julia to the new person . . .it’s too much to sit there and listen to people talk about your daughter in medical terms about what she can’t do. Not to mention that then her medical history is sitting right there, and her medical history includes Caitlin, so it’s a double whammy. It makes her seem so abnormal, and when we’re away from everybody else, she’s just normal.

    • says

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Ashlyn has tested so low from the very beginning so I had to block out the test results early on because I just didn’t see what they were saying. Now I have become a pro (most of the time) at blocking it all out. Going through McKenna’s medical history is totally draining because Hadley always comes up and we both know how unemotionally many people address the subject.

  4. Kristi says

    Caring for an autistic child can be tiring, difficult, and draining. However, it can also be fulfilling and rewarding. Just as there is no rule-book for parenting, there is no how-to guide on caring for a child with autism.

  5. says

    I have an autistic 9th grader in my Spanish 2 class this year. Today was a tough day for him and I felt tears well up in my eyes. The thing that helps him calm down is when his case worker says, “B, what would your mom want you to do right now?” And he took a deep breath and said, “take a breath and calm down and talk about it.” It was all I could do to not lunge forward and hug him. I suddenly saw my own children (not autistic, but my children the way he is his mom’s child). Labels don’t matter. They don’t. All we want is success and love for our children.

    Also, I thought of you since he is 14 or 15 years old and new to high school stuff. It is also homecoming week in our district.

    I know I don’t comment much anymore, but I had to come back and put my words here today.

    Go Ashlyn. Go you.
    Kate recently posted..spread way too thin

    • says

      Thanks Katie, it is so hard for these kids to make it day in and day out in a high school setting. I’m amazed at what they can make it through.

  6. says

    I think it’s so great that she has so many who love her and support her. “Labels” shouldn’t matter any way. She is who she is, and anyone who can’t take time to see that, isn’t worth her time.
    Courtney Kirkland recently posted..My Favorite Moments