As a young mom, Celia Sanchez felt like an outsider.

Sanchez, who became a mom 11 years ago at age 23, had many run-ins with fellow parents that she won't soon forget.

"When I would take my children to day care, I felt kind of ... like I didn't look like the other moms," Sanchez said. "They were much older than me. I just felt kind of separated from them. I would get a lot of 'Oh you're so young to be a mom,' 'You don't really look like a mom,' and I always thought that was a silly thing to say: 'Oh you don't look like a mom.'"

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This story was originally published on The Mighty.

I’ve seen the looks. I’ve heard the whispers. Nobody actually says it to my face, but I see them wonder. “Are you sure she has autism?”

People have a narrow view of autism. They seem to think they would be able to spot a child with autism a mile away. They envision a nonverbal child lining up his cars. They envision a child who can recite statistics about Mars.

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Mary Walls Penney isn't an easy person to miss.

A nurse living in West Virginia, Penney's got rainbow-colored hair, piercings in her tongue and ears, and visible tattoos all over. 

As for her personality? I have no idea, because I've never met her!

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