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Autism is still misunderstood. 8 parents share what you should know about it.

'When my child flips out, he's not giving me a hard time — he's having a hard time.'

Although 1 in 68 children in America have been identified with autism spectrum disorder, many people still don't understand it.

Quick, what's the first thing you think of when you hear the word "autism"? It only happens to white families? It's only an issue for boys? Kids with ASD have no emotions?

The misconceptions are everywhere. Even in 2016, some people are like...


GIF from "Modern Family."

It's one thing to read books or studies on ASD to correct those assumptions, but it's another to hear it from the people who raise children with ASD. To that end, we reached out to a few of them.

Eight parents shared the one thing they wish people knew about raising a child with ASD.

1. I don't want my child to be labeled.

It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but Sonya wants to be clear about how her child should be addressed. He's not an autistic child — he's a child with autism or ASD. Making that subtle change makes a big difference.

Photo from Sonya, used with permission.

"We don't say things like, 'This is my asthmatic sister' or 'This is my cancerous uncle,'" Sonya told Upworthy. "Changing the language lessens the stigma and allows others to see they are a person before a diagnosis."

2. My son is highly intelligent.

Natasha wants to quiet the noise she hears about the lack of intelligence of children with ASD.

Photo from Natasha, used with permission.

"Those with ASD, like my son, are highly intelligent but learn differently," Natasha told Upworthy. "They are both mentally and emotionally intelligent, but one may need to look and listen differently to grasp their greatness."

3. My child is happy.

Maya notices how happy her son is, along with other kids with ASD. She just wants people to look past what's on the surface to see it.


Photo from Maya, used with permission.

"It's beautiful to see how rich their world can be even when they seem to stare in an empty space," Maya told Upworthy. "They enjoy such happiness."

4. I want more schools to truly understand what it's like to work with children with ASD.

Being a teacher is a very difficult, and Katherine understands that. She just wishes more schools would be more proactive when working with children with ASD. That includes doing more to fight bullying and understand meltdowns.

Photo from Katherine, used with permission.

"Teachers who feel overwhelmed by students with ASD need to speak out and get the help they need in their classrooms," Katherine told Upworthy. "These children are precious, and I want my grandson and others like him to be happy and understood."

5. I want people to know that being quiet doesn't mean being unaware.

Tamara's son may not be extremely talkative, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know what's going on around him. That's the case with many kids with ASD.

Photo from Tamara, used with permission.

"Nonverbal does not mean that they can't communicate in their own way or that they aren't aware of how you treat them," Tamara told Upworthy.

6. I want people to know that my child is talented.

Jody knows children with ASD can do a lot of amazing things. She wants others to know, too.

Photo from Jody, used with permission.

"Our sweet boy may not be able to speak or dress himself, but he is as gentle and innocent as an angel and can play piano by ear," Jody told Upworthy.

7. I want people to know that safety is a big issue for children with ASD.

Travis, a dad to a son with ASD, believes that keeping him safe is a challenge that many simply don't understand. He recalls times when his son left the house and failed to respond to his own name, and that is beyond scary.


Wandering is a major concern for parents raising kids with ASD. Photo from iStock.

"I wish people would realize that I can't just let him run off and play," Travis told Upworthy. "Some kids with ASD need constant supervision for their own safety as well as the safety of others."

8. I am not sad.

A lot of people want to offer sympathy to Jo Ellen, but she's not interested in it. As a matter of fact, she's quite happy and so is her daughter.

Photo from Jo Ellen, used with permission.

"I want people to ask me about what makes her excited because I would love to tell them about her fascination with elephants instead," Jo Ellen told Upworthy.

April is Autism Awareness Month, so kudos to these parents for doing their part to raise awareness of an often misunderstood condition.

10/10. The Mayyas dance.

We can almost always expect to see amazing acts and rare skills on “America’s Got Talent.” But sometimes, we get even more than that.

The Mayyas, a Lebanese women’s dance troupe whose name means “proud walk of a lioness,” delivered a performance so mesmerizing that judge Simon Cowell called it the “best dance act” the show has ever seen, winning them an almost instant golden buzzer.

Perhaps this victory comes as no surprise, considering that the Mayyas had previously won “Arab’s Got Talent” in 2019 and competed on “Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.” But truly, it’s what motivates them to take to the stage that’s remarkable.

“Lebanon is a very beautiful country, but we live a daily struggle," one of the dancers said to the judges just moments before their audition. Another explained, “being a dancer as a female Arab is not fully supported yet.”

Nadim Cherfan, the team’s choreographer, added that “Lebanon is not considered a place where you can build a career out of dancing, so it’s really hard, and harder for women.”

Still, Cherfan shared that it was a previous “AGT” star who inspired the Mayyas to defy the odds and audition anyway. Nightbirde, a breakout singer who also earned a golden buzzer before tragically passing away in February 2021 due to cancer, had told the audience, “You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” The dance team took the advice to heart.

For the Mayyas, coming onto the “AGT” stage became more than an audition opportunity. Getting emotional, one of the dancers declared that it was “our only chance to prove to the world what Arab women can do, the art we can create, the fights we fight.”

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