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Shanell Mouland Headshot

Our Little Girl With Autism, and Her Changing World

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She's getting so big. Every time I look at her I can't believe she's ours. This little turtle-loving doll, that gives so much more love to the world than she could ever take, is our girl.

She starts preschool soon. I know she doesn't really fit in. I know she doesn't really understand. None of that matters. She doesn't care about what I "know." She doesn't care about what you "think." She's just happy and ready for whatever comes, in the most authentic and pure way.

She thinks you're wonderful, you know.

She's maybe never laid eyes on you, but the day she does, if you let her, she will show you how amazing she thinks you are with hugs and smiles and babble that means she is so excited to be with you she's temporarily lost her language. Her arms will flap like she's about to take flight and she'll be up on her toes because she is thrilled to be with you. Can you imagine how good that feels for us? She greets us like that every single day.

She's getting better at answering questions. We've been working really hard. If you ask her what her favorite turtle's name is, she'll touch her chin and look to the ceiling (because she knows this is how one "thinks") and she'll say: "Hmm, wet me Fink?" And then she'll say "Waph," because Raphael is the coolest turtle these days.

Her world is changing again. I hope her new world will be as good to her as she is to it.

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