Shelby Cordon was diagnosed with autism after a family friend noticed she didn’t have the vocabulary a child her age typically would. Shelby is bright and intelligent, but—like many people with autism—she communicates differently and experiences the world in ways that most of us don’t.

Her father, Jose Cordon, says, “we have a saying around the house. Why be Elsa or any other Disney princess when you can be Shelby?” And it’s that level of acceptance people in the autism community want others to embrace.

Understanding and acceptance is vital, as one study found one in 44 children in a certain age bracket had been diagnosed with autism. That number is up 178% from the amount diagnosed in 2000.

To help inform people about autism, April has been known as Autism Awareness Month, but last year, those in the autism community rebranded it to Autism Acceptance Month in an effort to help people move beyond just awareness and into a place of understanding and embracing people with autism.

On this episode of our podcast “The Word,” we will meet 7-year-old Shelby Cordon and her father Jose Cordon, as we explore what life is like for a child in Long Beach living with autism.

For additional resources, contact the Center for Autism and Related Disorders here.

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