What is Autism to Hopebridge?
March 29, 2022
March 29, 2022
With one in 36 children now diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), most everyone is connected to someone affected by it in one way or another. Autism is as the name suggests – a spectrum – so even those directly impacted by ASD may not fully understand it because of its varying levels, along with the associated challenges and strengths that differ from person to person.
It’s impossible to cover the full and true meaning of autism in one blog post. Instead, by capturing our Hopebridge community’s feelings about it, we hope this post can connect you tighter to those touched by autism in your life. We also hope to provide a little clarity and reassurance to anyone new to the diagnosis.
You may already know the clinical definition, but what is autism in an everyday sense to our kiddos, their families and the Hopebridge team? To them, it’s something that can’t be answered in a single sentence, list of autism symptoms or even a full research paper of medical jargon. To them, it’s so much more, and its range is broader than can be put into words.
Here is a glimpse of what autism means to the Hopebridge community:
“Penny’s brain works a little differently, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Autism is more about teaching us how to adapt to the way she learns. Autism can be scary, but it can also be awesome. As adults, our minds become closed. We have ideas on the way things are supposed to be, but autism can give us a new way of looking at life.”
– Mindy, mother to Penny, Hopebridge Center in Dublin, OH
“Autism is nothing more than a label. It’s a diagnosis. As a clinical provider, I don’t treat a diagnosis, I treat a child. I treat the areas that a child is struggling with in life. The diagnosis itself doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. I only use it to guide me in a direction to start my therapy services. It gives warnings for anything contraindicative. It helps me anticipate things I might want to look further into with that individual. But really, I’m looking at the child and the family and where they need help. It’s not really about the diagnosis…it’s where we can impact their lives.”
– Kim Strunk, Hopebridge founder
“Autism is a beautiful thing. A completely neurotypical child teaches so much, but kids like Sawyer can do it in more profound ways. Throughout all of this, he has taught me patience, love and acceptance with a deeper understanding and I am grateful for it.”
– Tiauna, mother to Sawyer, Hopebridge Center in Denver, CO
“I understand some parents choose to wait to get an evaluation, but it was my goal to find out as early as possible for my sons. Receiving the autism diagnosis was not so much about giving them a label as it was about opening the door to the services they need for a better life.”
– Laura, mom to Neil, Eric, Drew and James, Hopebridge Center in Glendale, AZ
“Together, we can show that autism is ‘different, not less.’ Not everyone knows how to hear someone on the spectrum, but once you know how to listen, you realize there is so much to say.”
– Hopebridge BCBA Cami Gilman, Evansville, IN
“When I first heard he had autism, I was really sad. As I started to learn more about it and meet other kids on the spectrum, I realized there is no reason to feel down about it. It took me a while to see that because of the stigma around autism. His dad and I always want Bryson to know that his diagnoses do not hinder his potential. He can do the same things as everyone else; it just might take him a different road to get there.”
– Caylin, mom to Bryson, Hopebridge Center in Milford, OH
“Autism doesn’t have to be scary. It’s natural that we parents go through a lot of emotions in the beginning, but it’s important to remember that our children have abilities that many others may not have.”
– Ariana, mother to Aurora, Hopebridge Center in Jeffersonville, IN
“Every day with these kiddos is a fun, fresh start. I love stepping back and trying to see things through their lenses; looking at how we can make things fun for them and help them better experience the world around them. I never feel like I’m in front of them or behind them; I’m beside them.”
– Hopebridge BCBA Sarah Price, Hopebridge Center in Bowling Green, KY
“My son was the same kid walking out of the evaluation office as he was walking in the door, and knowing he has autism isn’t going to alter that. Autism doesn’t change who he is; it’s just something that influences our way of life. To me, it just means he can be himself. We don’t have to fit him into any mold. He has complete freedom.”
– Hannah, mom to Kyran, Hopebridge Center in Richmond, IN
“Norah is not autism. She happens to have autism, but she is still Norah. Autism is her superpower. I believe all individuals on the spectrum have some sort of gift. I know Norah has hers and we are yet to figure it out, but it’s definitely there. She’s exceptional and a blessing and so strikingly different that I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
– Angelica, mother to Norah, Hopebridge Center in Roswell, GA
“People with autism see things differently through their minds and eyes. Yes, these individuals may be ‘different’ – as everyone is – but that is not a negative thing. Each is special in his or her own unique way and we have a lot to learn from them. Autism is truly like a puzzle; we have to put together the pieces to find out what works for each person.”
– Richard, father to Jacob, Hopebridge Center in Cincinnati, OH
“Each kid with autism is like a little box of jewels. There is so much possibility inside; you just have to find all the right keys to access all of it.”
– Hopebridge BCBA Jamie Hill, Indianapolis, IN
“In some ways, autism is cruel; it ties my son’s tongue and jumbles his mind, but it can also be beautiful. My son has a unique appreciation for things we all overlook: how light reflects on the ground, how leaves sound crackling under his feet and how the wind feels on his face. He is never in such a hurry that he doesn’t appreciate these things. What I love most about autism is his absolute pure joy and happiness for the simple things. I have learned so much from him because of autism.”
– Wendy, mom to Cash, Hopebridge Center in Miamisburg, OH
“There is no one else like my son. I don’t think about a disability or what he can’t do. He’s special, but I think all kids are special. Kids with autism are special kids, but not special needs kids.”
– Nicole, mother to Kobe, Hopebridge Center in Greenwood, IN
“When I evaluate a child who has the autism diagnosis, I look at how the factors that align with autism, such as the difficulties in communication, sensory-processing, and restrictive and repetitive patterns of behaviors are impacting their daily routines. However, the biggest emphasis is placed on identifying this child’s strengths and how we can use those to minimize his or her challenges.”
– Hopebridge Occupational Therapist and BCBA, Haley Hatfield, Carmel, IN
“My son wants nothing more than to be accepted and loved the way you and I do. People with autism are still people with feelings. The only difference is they may express them differently than we do.”
– Bobby, dad to Zack, Hopebridge Center in Louisville, KY
“Autism is a special thing. Everyone has their own personality and ASD is something that just adds to it. Some kids may not be able to communicate verbally but will hum along to a song with you. Other kids are so creative and smart in completely different ways with different abilities.”
– Hopebridge RBT and BAF student, Katie Johnson, Indianapolis, IN
“Autism allows kids to act a little different from a social standpoint, but a lot of people don’t realize that is not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to enter their world to be able to understand them. Autistic kids see more than whatever they are looking at; they have the ability to see beyond the point most of us can see.”
– Abby, mom to Tasneem, Hopebridge Center in Westlake, OH
“To me, autism is a set of differences that can make certain aspects of an individual’s life easier or harder, both for themselves and those around them. As a BCBA, it comes down to this: we just have to figure out what each child’s strengths and weaknesses are, then build upon them.”
– Hopebridge BCBA Taylor Thomas, Marion, IN
“All individuals with autism are very different. As people in this community say, ‘If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.’ This means, of course, that individuals on the autism spectrum have a wide range of abilities and/or challenges.”
– Kevin, dad to Homer, Hopebridge Center in Terre Haute, IN
Are you interested in learning more about ASD? While we don’t get into the signs of autism, how to obtain an official autism diagnosis, or ABA therapy as a treatment opportunity in this post, check out the rest of the content on our blog to dive deeper into these topics.
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