Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder can be filled with chaos and anxiety – but also with joy and love.
In honour of Autism Awareness Month, we asked members of the HuffPost Parents Facebook community to share what autism looks like in their families. Though no two stories are the same, these parents want what all parents want ― for their children to experience happiness and acceptance.
Keep scrolling to see and read what autism means for 11 different families.
"Severe autism looks at the world in the way others might not. It’s a challenge sometimes, but oh, is it worth it at the end of the day!"
"Autism is about smiles! It's the little things that make them enjoy life! This is Derrick, he's 10."
"Determination with a fair amount of heartache."
"Autism is celebrating each developmental milestone in a BIG way! (Potty training number two at 6 years old.) Jantis, now age 7."
"Autism looks like two little girls. As a neuro divergent family, we listen to them and work to change the world for them, not them for the world. We don’t label them like hot sauce, we don’t wear puzzle pieces, but we celebrate and encourage their unique and incredible view on the world. They have taught me how to be better and appreciate so much more because their point of view is pretty awesome. Why change it?"
Holley Brianna Burnett
"In our house, autism looks like a normal 5-year-old boy, who is completely free of social norms, and who can freely be whoever he chooses to be."
Amanda Lynn Milham
"This is what our autism baby needs -- a lot of tactile pressure! Tactile pressure is her calming! She is 6 and also has two rare chromosome deletions. ... No matter her obstacles, she loves to be a cheerleader!"
"You’d never know. Until you had to have a conversation or ask him to complete a task. Some days are really good. Others I’m just praying we all survive until bedtime. But the best days are the ones when out of nowhere, I hear a genuine laugh or even get a hug."
Sylvie Js Duclos
"My autistic girl loves cars and is making a driving movie. She's 15 years old."
"Autism looks like two siblings loving each other. Both have autism and both are delightful."
Kimberly Cherry Shiver
"Children with autism see things differently than we do. The way you hold a flower, twirl a blade of grass through your fingertips amazes me. What we take for granted, you notice. Because I believe, I know, in your world, there are beautiful colors, laughter and soft sounds."
Some quotes have been edited or condensed for clarity.