When She Asked, “What is Autism?”

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But mama,
“What is autism?” My sweet daughter innocently asked me.
I let out a long sigh I had been holding in while she asked. And I let out what sounded like a laugh, only because it was a hard question that I truly didn’t have an answer for.

“What is autism?” That’s a question I’ve asked myself so many sleepless nights.

How do you explain autism to another person, especially a child.
While I am still searching for the answer to “what autism is”, I do have a really good answer for what autism is not.
Autism is not a journey we planned for, expected, or thought about before we were on it.
Autism is not a sad life, a life that deserves less quality, or a life that isn’t worth living.
Autism is not “retarded”, and nothing makes me cringe faster than when I hear this word being used.
Autism is not easy, but it also isn’t void of joy and love.
Autism is not picture perfect. In fact, most days it is messy and chaotic, and comes at you full speed.
Autism is not the same from one child to the next, or even one day to the other. Autism is not predictable, and does not follow textbook or movie examples that have been shown to us.
Autism is not ever taking no for an answer, settling for less, or standing on the sideline and watching life happen around you.

But I can tell you autism is not “less”, it has in fact created a life of more.

More community.
More gratitude.
More strength.
More love.
More living life on purpose.
Taking no moment or milestone for granted, and seeing the incredible victories that happen every single day.
Autism is not easy, and it is not the life we imagined we would be living, but this journey has taught me the greatest lessons of my life.
Autism is living without fear, it’s seeing the world differently but never seeing or judging the differences in others. It’s about watching your brother teach us all about gratitude and joy every single day, and learning to love others through the “hardest days”.
Autism is what makes him beautifully different, and all of us learning how to reach our greatest potential alongside him each and every day.
Written by Amanda  DeLuca of Jackson’s Journey, Jackson’s Voice.
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Amanda DeLuca

Amanda DeLuca lives in Ohio with her husband Sal, and is a mom of 2 to Monroe, and Jackson. Her son is on the autism spectrum and is what inspired her to begin her journey through advocacy in the IEP process. Amanda works in educational advocacy and proudly serves family both locally and remotely to empower them to come to the IEP table with confidence while working collaboratively with their team. Amanda is a business owner, proudly serves as board president for The More Than Project, enjoys teaching at her dance studio, and writing for her blog Jackson’s Journey, Jackson’s Voice.

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