With much of my life and the majority of my social media posts revolving around autism, the impact that diagnosis has on each member of our family – particularly my daughter, often goes unaddressed.

Parenting neurotypical children while simultaneously managing the ups and downs and countless unknowns of a special needs child is extremely hard.

It forces us to navigate parenthood a bit differently.

Although I don’t talk about her as much as I should (partly to honor her wishes), I absolutely love bragging about my beautiful, brilliant, hilarious, talented and kind hearted daughter, Kendall anytime I get the chance.

Being the sister to a special needs older brother does not come without many challenges and obstacles that force her to learn about the world from a different vantage point.

While siblings are typically our first playmates and our best friends, Kendall was destined for a different childhood from what most kids experience. She has a brother, but she is, in many ways, alone.

As much as I try to put myself in Kendall’s shoes, I struggle to fully comprehend what it must be like having a sibling you cannot communicate with, play with or relate to in any way.

Although she essentially became the “Little, Big Sister,” at birth, I hope she recognizes there are incredible gifts that come with having a special sibling like Skyler.

Being a ‘warrior sister’ has provided her with a different set of tools in her toolbox to tackle the unique challenges parenthood may bring her one day.

She might be more patient, more understanding, more flexible, more spontaneous, more giving, more forgiving, more accepting and more loving… because of autism, not in spite of it.

Autism is a part of my family’s journey and it forever will be. We do what we can to get through every challenge TOGETHER and find the beauty in autism and the beauty in our special family.

As it is my daily mission to advocate for Skyler, it is also equally important that I ensure autism doesn’t stifle Kendall’s dreams for an incredible future.

Kendall is a wonderful sister, daughter and friend to all. I’m beyond proud of her big heart, maturity and intuitive nature.

I’m blessed beyond measure.