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Innocently Puzzled

Kinsli Joi. It’s befitting that, that’s your name because that’s exactly what you’ve brought my family, joy. You first came to us as just a little baby who attended my mom’s daycare. Now, you’re a God-sibling we can’t get rid of lol. As you grow and become the little girl, young lady and woman God wants you to be, I pray you always spread that beautiful smile, infectious laughter, and teach the world simply by being.

For those of you who don’t know, April is Autism Awareness Month. I thought it be fitting to close out this month with a little education with the help of "Shinkyyy" as we affectionately call her.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects about 1 in 54 children in the United States today.

There is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.

Kinsli is a 3 year old with autism. She is smart and energetic, but struggles with verbal communication. Trust me when I say, she does not let that stop her. She WILL get her point across by any means necessary lol. She is now going to school to receive the proper tools and therapy she needs to be as successful as she can. As her friends and family, it’s important that we support not only Kinsli by encouraging her to use her words, but also supporting her mother by showing her that she has a village.

If you have a child or know of a child who seems to be developing later than most, I encourage you to have them tested. It’s okay to be afraid, but don’t let that fear hinder you or your child. Autism doesn’t make you a bad parent/guardian nor does it make the child any less than their peers.

Accepting and aiding in the development of a child with autism is a bit more natural for myself and family, due to the fact that between my Mom, Gran, and Aunt, they combined have over 25 years of working with and teaching adolescents with special needs and disabilities. Love. All children need love and attention no matter the circumstance. Let’s continue to spread love by bringing awareness to Autism, educating ourselves, and sharing stories.

As we continue to educated one another, I have to commend the television industry for the strides they are making in creating shows with all types of people in them. Two of my favorite shows are about people with Autism and how they navigate their lives through their lens. The Good Doctor shows on ABC or Hulu and Atypical is on Netflix. I encourage you to check them out. They showcase how bright and interesting the minds of those with autism can be.

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