I guess I'd better introduce myself. I'm Shanell, wife to Alex, mother to Ninja Kate (6) and Princess Grace (8), servant to Bill Bailey and Steph Curry, the cats and fur magnet to Oakley the autism service dog. I wrote a letter a few years ago about a lovely gentleman who bonded with Kate on a plane ride and it received quite a bit of attention. So, for that reason some people have decided that I might be able to offer some insight into the business of autism. I have, in the past, become an unofficial authority on a few things, like 'the best foundation for covering bite marks on your cheeks' (that's autism folks) or 'how to pretend, at the liquor store, that you are buying that much wine for a party', but I have never had any authority in the arena of autism. It is with this new found jurisdiction that I impart on you, not wisdom, not advice and likely not even good judgement but an authentic look into our life. So study with circumspect the words of this tired autism mom and don't take anything too seriously because we sure as hell don't.
I suppose you'll want me to go back to the beginning. The beginning is not the day of diagnosis or even the months leading up to it, but the birth of our Kate and how our world immediately got a little more badass. Kate wasn't going to fit into any prescribed box or meet the requirements of any list written by the so-called baby experts. Kate was born a ninja and even though it took us a long time to understand it, we were living the autism life long before that diagnosis was even a consideration.
I'll caution you now, that Kate's autism is hers and hers alone. No two children with autism present the same so if your father's boss' dog walker has autism you'll have ask him about his experience. In fact the somber truth of it is, Kate is truly the only one who could genuinely detail her experience. Since autism is, frustratingly enough, a disorder affecting communication, she may never be able to express this herself. For the time being, I will do my best to share her world with you.
If you are ever lucky enough to meet Kate, it will probably be the best part of your day, but before you do, you must first undergo the scrutiny of her best friend and big sister Grace, who is as delicate as Kate is robust and as tender as Kate is tough. Miss Grace is a guardian to her sister in ways that will make your eyes leak. Now before we take the serious turn I warned you about, please remember, as lovely as these little girls are they still find sleep maddeningly unessential and they watch YouTube videos on a loop like deranged little maniacs. It isn't easy, but it's funny and beautiful and surprising and remarkable and if you're into that kind of thing you might be perfect for our team.
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