5 Ways to Live a Good Life According to a Little Girl With Autism

My daughter, Kate, seems to be free of the issues plaguing many of us, such as insecurity, fearfulness and doubt. They’re not a part of her world, and I wanted to know why. I learned a few lessons about living a good life based on the way she lives hers.

1. Hug people and make them smile. 

Kate, loves to give hugs to people whether it’s appropriate or not. She will crawl into the lap of a stranger if you let her. But you know what? They always smile. They always instantly feel happier once receiving a Kate hug. So this lesson boils down to: hug people (when they want to be hugged) and make them smile.

2. Don’t judge others.

Kate likes every single person she meets. She doesn’t care what you’re wearing or what you do. She doesn’t care if you have money or not. She doesn’t care if you have a disability or if you’ve made mistakes. She’s happy to be in your company. She routinely greets strangers with a big “Hi” as we walk around town. She’s an equal opportunity lover of people. Lesson two: you should be too.

3. Be sincere.

Kate never lies. She never pretends to be something she is not. One of the myths of autism is that people with autism can’t tell a lie, and I do not want to perpetuate that myth with this lesson, but at the moment she’s as authentic as they come. For example, you can ask, “Kate, did you put your banana between the couch cushions?” and you will get a “Yes, Mama” and a huge smile. You will always know where you stand with Kate. Lesson three: be genuine to yourself and others.

4. Give it your all.

Kate doesn’t hold back. No matter the situation, she gives all of her energy and effort to what she’s doing. To Kate, there’s nothing she can’t do. She can tackle the gymnastic equipment without trepidation. She can (try to) jump off the boat and go for a swim (while it’s moving!). She is fearless (which can be stressful for us, but a quality we understand to be freeing). Lesson four: don’t be afraid to go all out, whatever the task.

5. Live in the moment.

Kate doesn’t regret yesterday or worry about tomorrow. She lives for today. She doesn’t hold a grudge or dwell on the past. She doesn’t fret about what will happen in the future. She’s present in the moment. She doesn’t live in her head like some of us get caught up doing. Lesson five: enjoy the moment you’re in. Be present and be mindful.

A version of this post originally appeared on Go Team Kate.

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