1.) She understands a lot of what you say, even if she doesn’t respond.
Lila is actually very intelligent. Along with being autistic, she also has sensory processing disorder – and has trouble processing everything, especially in an environment where she is over-stimulated. She will also most likely be diagnosed with apraxia, which is a brain/mouth connection issue – which is why she has trouble speaking and currently uses picture cards to communicate.
2.) She knows exactly how you feel about her, even if you don’t say a word.
She’s incredibly intuitive, and can easily pick up on the feelings and energy of others.
3.) If she pays attention to you or shows you affection, that’s a huge compliment.
She’s not seeking to please anyone, so if she does this – she truly means it. She also may show you affection in a way you’re not used to seeing (ie giving you something seemingly random like a hat or sunglasses, looking you in the eyes, smiling, etc.)
4.) If she flaps, spins, or stims in any way – please don’t feel awkward!
It’s OK to look – “stimming” is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or the repetitive movement of objects. It’s a way for Lila to help manage her anxiety and to help handle overwhelming sensory input.
5.) She’s not so incredibly different from other kids.
Her brain is wired differently, she experiences things more acutely, but she is a child first and foremost. She may respond differently than you’re used to, but don’t feel you need to talk to her or treat her any different than you would a typical child her age.