Sara's Story

 
 
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This past week, Stella asked us if she had autism. I have been dreading this question for years and stayed awake a million nights puzzling over what words to use to explain something with so many faces. Learning she had autism was no surprise to Beau and I. We searched and fought for years for her diagnosis and knew the words before they even left the psychologist’s mouth... but hearing Stella use the word was enough to suck all the air out of my lungs. Whatever I tell her will shape how she views autism and her own self image. I answered her—yes, she did. It was just one part of her and we loved that part, just like all the rest of her. She asked if Beau had autism, if I had autism, if the boys did. When I told her no, she frowned slightly and said, “I don’t want to have it if Weston and Jamison don’t too.” We looked up people who had/have autism just like her and they made me read every single name and description and with each one, she smiled bigger and bigger. There were inventors and scientists and artists and writers. She looked at me and said, “Maybe everyone should have autism like me.” I expected tears over a confirmation that she is indeed different, like she has always felt, but instead, she just blew. me. away. 
We went for a walk a few days later and she was beaming the whole way, hugging on to me. I asked if it felt good to be outside in the wind, and she looked up at me and said, “It feels good to be me, Mum.”