What does Autism look like?

Posted on November 16 2014

I remember the first time I asked that question.

My husband and I were doing a little shopping when a seemingly sweet older lady stopped for a little small talk.  She immediately noticed my daughter engrossed in her iPad.  The iPad which was once my toy, and now her security blanket, it's been our saving grace, the one thing she can turn to whenever she needs to shut out the overwhelming noises, sights, and sounds in day-to-day lives.  It makes life tolerable for her, for me, and for all the passer-byes who don't even know it!

When the question was asked, "Don't you worry that she's not getting the social interaction she needs because she's engrossed in her iPad?" I though to my self, I'll just take a moment to simply explain.  "She is Autistic, so yes, social interaction will be a challenge for us her entire life, but here in a brightly lit store, which is loud, and very busy, it gives her something to focus on and a little sense of control and safety." 

And her response, which I wish had actually left me speechless.  "Wow, she's so beautiful, I never would have known".  And that's when it happened, I found myself in one of those slow motion time warps, where I envisioned a dozen things to scream at this woman... all of which took a split second, because I snapped at her almost immediately.  "What does Autism look like?" 

When my husband gently took my arm, It took everything I had to simply walk away.

In retrospect, it was one of those opportunities I should have taken to simply educate a naive woman about autism; physical features (in most cases) have nothing to do with the actual diagnosis of Autism.  And all Autistic children are beautiful to those of us who who love and care and support them in their daily lives.