During the month of April, the WSS Foundation recognizes “Autism Acceptance Month” in order to increase knowledge and understanding on the shared diagnoses many in our community have with WSS and autism. This post comes from Jillian Ahlgrim, who is a mom of a WSS warrior and shares many resources and recommendations for those navigating a similar journey.

By: Jillian Ahlgrim, Colorado, USA

I have mixed feelings about the month of April.

My incredible wild child entered this world halfway through the month. She had a head full of hair, a cry that filled the NICU (when she finally found her voice), and so far in her twelve years, a lifetime of duping me. We have the most stereotypical mother/daughter relationship that you could possibly imagine – which both delights and horrifies me.

My daughter is diagnosed with Wiedemann-Steiner Syndrome and a year ago, she also received a diagnosis of autism (a medical confirmation after a twelve-year hunch of mine).

So, the recognition of autism during the month of April has resonated deeply with our family.

Lately, April feels like I must play a never-ending game of goalie to defend my daughter’s very worth and dignity. Just as the way of recognizing autism in April has evolved from “Autism Awareness” to “Autism Acceptance,” there needs to be more understanding. I hope in the future, April is known as “Autism Appreciation Month” because of the numerous gifts this neurotype has given our world. There’s simply too many to list.

Since my daughter’s autism diagnosis, I’ve been following so many autistic voices. These incredible individuals have helped me understand, not only my daughter, but our entire family in a better way than I ever believed was imaginable. We are radically changing our lives with the information we’ve been given, and now without guilt or pretense.

One thing I’ve learned is that understanding and belonging are paramount. No matter what your neurotype, disability, or support needs are, the act of being seen, accepted, and valued is what is the most important to the human spirit. Find a friend, someone who is different from you. I promise it’s worth it.

So, I want to introduce these resources to my WSS friends and community because of how crucial they have been to our journey over the last year. I hope they provide you with as much love, value, laughter, and insight, as they have to us.

Book Recommendations for Parents:

  • Neurotribes by Steven Silberman
  • The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
  • Look at Me in the Eye by Melanie Heyworth
  • Sincerely, Your Autistic Child by Emily Paige Ballou
  • Sharon Davenport by Monénike Giwe Onaiwn

Book Recommendations for Kids:

  • Uniquely Wired by Julie Cook
  • Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap by Clay Morton
  • Just Right for You by Melanie Heyworth
  • Some Brains by Nelly Thomas

YouTube/Video Recommendations:

  • This is probably my favorite video. It’s engaging, the narrators voice is soothing, and I love the simplistic normalization of ALL neurotypes: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwRrVw-CRo
  • More Than One NeuroType
  • Autism Appreciation
  • Yo Samdy Sam
  • Chloe Hayden
  • Neurodivergent Doctor

Facebook Pages to Follow:

  • Yellow Ladybugs
  • Autistic Girls and Women
  • Kristy Forbes – Autism and ND Support
  • At Peace Parenting
  • Autistic, Actually
  • Harry Thompson – PDA
  • Extraordinaire NEST – Neurodivergent Education Support and Training
  • The Odd Mom Out