8 Words that Changed how I View the Word 'Normal' after my Daughter's Autism Diagnosis

"Normal" is such a weird word. To me, it has connotations of boring, unexciting, run-of-the-mill. I would never want to be referred to as "normal" -- I feel it is bland, safe and average. But "normal" can also mean the center, the equilibrium, the thing that always happens, nothing bad, nothing too extreme, just the everyday stuff that goes on. I always felt that "normal" was some badge of acceptance, that you have managed to achieve a middling level of human ability; you were not odd, you were not different, you did not stand out, and in my naive young mind, I thought that everyone's "normal" was the same. That everyone was striving to be the same "normal," that we were all connected to a collective brain that pulled and pushed us to conform. That there was a "normal" ideal that we were all striving for, and any deviation from this goal was wrong.

The day our daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder will forever be etched in my memory, a date in the diary that will ping with recollection as each year goes by -- but I will also remember one key phrase the consultant uttered. This phrase was like an illuminated neon sign in a sea of muted words, ideas, strategies and diagnoses that would require many weeks and months for them to be truly understood. That simple, life-changing phrase was: "Your normal will not be anyone else's normal."

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