Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The face of Autism - Becoming informed

While going through my Masters Program at the University of Florida for Special Education, I learned some valuable lessons about how to treat people with disabilities.

One message that stuck with me was to not define a person by their condition. You should never refer to a person as "an autistic child." Instead, say "a child with autism."

"People before the condition," is what I learned and what I hope to leave with you today.

My niece is a brilliant, beautiful girl, full of joy and energy. She has suffered mild to severe seizures since birth. It's been a few years since her last severe seizure, but doctors believe she continues to have silent ones.

The seizures left her with delays in cognition, coordination, and most of her motor skills. She was formally diagnosed with autism two years ago.

The most heartbreaking piece to our puzzle is not the challenges she faces; she is determined to succeed. It's not the added responsibility to her single mom; my sister is the most hardworking person I know!

The hardest part is dealing with people who don't understand; seeing adults ignore her because they've given up on her, and watching kids exclude her because she is different.

As her family, we can chalk it up to ignorance when we hear people judge her or her mom, but as a nine-year-old girl, sensitive about her self-image, it is beyond damaging.

That's why autism awareness is so important. Education is the key! An informed public can make a difference. I invite you to get to know a family with a child who has autism. Your life will be better by it.

I recently saw this quote in Pinterest and couldn't have said it better myself.

Make a difference! Be informed.

Thanks for reading!




  1. So well written, Debra! A trooper: We see the determination, hard work, at first, trying to diminish tears, frustrations, struggles, rejection or avoidance by others, stares, trying to fit in. What do you get? A strong, beautiful family. Lots of wisdom and love seasoned with experience there.

  2. I adore you Debra! Thank you for sharing even though you made me cry : ) Your niece is beautiful and blessed to be surrounded by a family like yours. I send you all one BIG hug and lots of prayers. <3

    1. Claudia! You are one of my heroes, Lady! Thank you so much for reading. I believe God very carefully selects the right families to bless with these children. So glad He thought enough of you and me ;) *HUGS*