When My Daughter Told Me She Knew She Was 'Different'


My daughter was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. She is now 4, and much of our life revolves around planning. We plan applied behavior analysis (ABA) appointments, occupational therapy appointments, IEP meetings, swim lessons, play dates and exit strategies, in case things get rough when going out and we need to leave.

However, never once as a mom had I planned on how to explain autism to my daughter. She is only 4 after all; I’d have plenty of time to plan for that conversation later.

Boy, was I ever wrong. I remember the exact moment when I felt my heart stop and my gut twist in knots. It was the exact same moment my daughter looked in my eyes and told me, “Mom, I know I’m different than other kids.”

I blinked rapidly, inhaled a large breath, forcing my thoughts to gather. I couldn’t even get myself together before my daughter interrupted my inner panic attack with her pure awesomeness and said, “I think I may be like Spider-Man or Batman or Darth Vader! But my arm doesn’t have any slime… yet.”

Then off she disappeared around the corner, singing the Spider-Man theme song.

I made a silent plan of action immediately following my daughter’s mind-blowing awareness. My plan is now to make sure my daughter (and others) always see her differences as an ability, not a disability.

If she can see her ability, then Spider-Man, Batman and Darth Vader will have nothing on her.

young girl chasing bubbles in the woods
Emalie’s daughter.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share a conversation you’ve had that changed the way you think about a disability, disease or mental illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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