‘We’re not odd’: Autism event advocates for acceptance, coming together as one community

April is Autism Acceptance Month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – April 1 marks the beginning of Autism Acceptance Month.

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental difference in the United States, with one in 36 children receiving a diagnosis, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control.

Living with autism is more common than most think. More than 5.8 million adults are autistic.

Hanah Rosales was diagnosed at five years old and says initially her symptoms were misdiagnosed.

“There were a lot of differences in the way I communicate. Just very straightforward, withdrawn socially and it was labeled a lot as depression,” said Rosales.

Delayed social communication and interaction skills are common early signs of autism, according to the CDC.

“There was just this invisible wall between me and other people,” Rosales said.

Through years of research and connecting to the right resources, she learned that she isn’t different from anyone else, but her thought process is.

Now Rosales works as an applied behavior analysis therapist with the Growing Together Behavior Center, a school for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

In the past two years, she helped dozens of kids embrace who they are.

The center’s event Saturday is highlighting the fact that our differences can bring us together and debunk common misconceptions about autism through community awareness.

“We’re not odd or left out we’re just part of a community. We communicate differently. We act a little different, but underneath it all, we’re all the same in one community,” Rosales said. “People have a very set idea about what they think autism is and what it looks like and events like this really help show the diversity of the neurodivergent community.”

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.