Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Does the Word Autism Mean to You?

With statistics like 1 in 70 boys diagnosed with autism, if you don’t have a child with an autism diagnosis you likely know someone who does and have created a meaning for the word in your mind.

I invite you to sit for a moment and open up your awareness to what words, what feelings, what images come up for you when you think of the word autism. 

Are they words and images that bring up feelings associated with fear, pain, suffering, anger, or guilt?

Have you noticed that as a society, we’ve been programmed to respond in fear and despair when a child is diagnosed with autism?  I’m not saying those feelings are invalid in any way or that our children are not suffering.   What I want you to consider is how you respond to the meaning behind a word.

With the start of Autism Awareness Month tomorrow I want to bring more awareness to the way we as a society think about autism and the feelings associated with the word.  I want to invite more acceptance and understanding for our children and families living with the diagnosis every day. 

When you open up to see and hear the unique ways children with autism express themselves, you can begin to see how accurately they respond to their environment.  They are not clouded by social conditioning and conformity but rather live according to what is alive in them and what feels good or doesn’t feel good in that moment.  They teach us to be present.

If you do associate autism with feelings that create fear, stress and anxiety, I invite you to consider finding one example of how autism has changed you for the better.  For me, I’ve learned to live more in the present moment and see every behavior from my son as a form of communication.

I will continue to find ways to help his healing journey and ease his life in the body he’s been given and I will do it to the best of my ability with peace, love and acceptance for everything that he is.

Here's to a month filled with more awareness AND acceptance.


As a Mind-Body and Equus Coach, Diane Hunter helps parents reconnect with their inner guidance system to find a sense of peace and a deeper connection with themselves and their child.  She writes on her blog to share her stories with others and share how to listen beyond words, open up to the power of non-verbal communication and find freedom from physical and emotional pain.  On most days you’ll find her hanging with her greatest teachers, her children, and her husband in their home in Los Gatos, CA. 


  1. Love it! Here's to more acceptance for our kiddos.

  2. It has changed a lot over the years, what I thought autism meant. It used to mostly mean tantrums and screams. Now it mostly means freedom and unconditional love.

  3. Autism has changed and enriched my life in ways I never imagined, professionally and personally. I've was never fearful or anxious, but I was many times overwhelmed and exhausted. Would I trade any of the expereinces that I've had because my son has autism. Nope, not a single one. It was a growing experience for myself as well as my son. I would not be the person I am today had I not traveled this path, and I am happy with the destination I've reached. I expect this to grow and change, and I look forward to what is to come.

  4. Michelle - there was a day when autism meant tantrum and screaming to me as well and so, so grateful it no longer comes anywhere near that meaning.
    Susan - thank you for your comments and for being open to all the infinite possibilities. Beautiful!

  5. Autism-hmmmm to be honest I don't have a clear definition yet. When I think of it I think of a bright blue eye blond hair bundle of joy and frustration. She is my boyfriends daughter (5 yrs old). I fell in love with her from the moment I meet her (later I fell in love with her Now I am frustrated with it all. I don't understand all that there is to Autism and her father doesn't know what to say to me about it. He answers are very short. I feel like there is so much to learn and like I am on the outside looking in. We live together as a family with his other daughter (9yrs old), my daughter (15 yrs old) and my son (14 yrs old). Our situation is about to change in unexpected ways. The mom of his daughters is moving to the city where we live. She has cancer. She is unaware of my involvement in their lives. She is highly jealous of her replacement in his life and the girls life so we have kept me a secret to some degree. I am only a family friend in her eyes. I am unsure of what will be happening next in our lives. I do know for a fact that the girls love their mom and I can never replace her nor do I want to. I have children of my own and they have a step-mom so I do understand how she feels. Sweet little G (5yr old) says she has 2 mommies. She really does understand the difference between us. She wants us to be friends and love each other. I pray life could be so simple as her sweet outlook. Sorry it is sooo long. I need to vent. Thank you for your writings. They help me in so many ways. God bless!

  6. For many autism still means tantrums and screaming, even in "children" who are now 17, 18, 19 years old. For those parents I am sure autism isn't so easy to accept. Watching a child have the mental capacity of a two year old in an adult body is very painful.

  7. Sunny - thank you for your comment and your kind words. It sounds like you have tremendous love for little G. I love your statement, "I pray life could be so simple as her sweet outlook." Let her show you how. My hunch is she's pure love and expresses herself honestly and does not get caught up in stories from the past or fears of the future. She's not worried about all the drama of a blended family, she loves each one of you deeply. What a powerful message. Love blows fear to pieces.
    And when you commented you don't understand all that there is to autism, you are so not alone. I imagine you would be on quite a long search to find anyone that truly does.
    Two things I've learned is that when my son feels safe, he's calm. Secondly, he lives in the present. He doesn't hang onto stories, he responds to what is in his environment at any given moment. When I'm in a state of peace, that feels so much better to him. He may still be affected by other sensory influences in his environment but by me staying calm, I provide a space of safety for him meeting that basic human need. When that need is met, connection is possible. From what you write, it sounds to me like you provide a safe place for your boyfriend's daughter. She's so fortunate to have you in her live, loving her.
    Take good care. With love and healing, Diane

  8. L - yes, I hear you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Sending you love and healing.

  9. It used to mean non stop harassment, shouting and screaming. It still does occasionally but more often than not it just means accepting he's different.

  10. L - yes, I hear you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Sending you love and healing.-online replica Richard Mille RM016