An 8-year-old girl is changing the narrative on autism.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to be a misunderstood neurodevelopmental disease, and people who have it present in many different ways. As a result, there are many prejudices and mistakes that people can make in association with it, particularly when it comes to young girls.

That’s why this story of an eight-year-old girl named Ana is so powerful. Thanks to an enlightening interview with the child, she’s making headlines for breaking stereotypes.

An Eight-Year-Old Genius

little girl

The world was introduced to Ana in late March when Special Books By Special Kids shared a video interview with her. In it, people met the bright eight-year-old, who has a genius IQ and holds memberships in the Davidson Young Scholars community and Mensa.

Ana is homeschooled and has already completed Grade 4. She’s also fluent in English and Spanish and has created a fictional purple planet called Hypothia. It has its own ecosystem and societal structure. One day, Ana wants to become an astrophysicist and study space.

This child also happens to have ASD and a physical disability called arthrogryposis, which affects the joints in all four of her limbs. However, she thinks that makes her even more special.

“Having all of those things is really just a blessing to me,” she said. “I want myself to be different. I really like everything about me.”

Breaking Preconceived Notions

Ana says people often comment that she’s too smart to have autism. However, she really wants people to know that one has nothing to do with the other.

According to Ana’s mom, many people have these preconceived notions because most people’s exposure has been to children with ASD Levels 2 or 3.

“They’re used to seeing maybe some of the ways that children find it difficult to express themselves when they have autism or the ways that they need to express themselves because they’re nonverbal or they’re struggling with overstimulation and things of that nature,” she explained.

As a result, she said people look at Ana and say “crazy things” like she “speaks too well” to be autistic, or she doesn’t “look” autistic, or she reads too well.

“Just because a child can’t communicate verbally doesn’t mean they’re not intelligent,” she added. “Highly intelligent in fact. I think people just need to understand, you know, there’s a saying in the community, if you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.”

By sharing their story, Ana and her parents hope they can shed more light on ASD and help others understand that each child with autism is unique.

“Everybody’s different and I want [everyone] out here and watching to respect everybody else with their differences,” Ana said. “Everybody should be different. I think everybody should be happy just the way they are.”

Embracing Our Differences

As Ana herself said, everybody should be different, but it’s only when we embrace those differences that we can truly learn from one another and grow as people. Her story is a nice reminder that intelligence comes in many different forms, and we should never assume to know how someone truly is without getting to know them first.

When you’ve only seen certain portrayals of disease and disorders in the past, it can be tough to move forward and break stereotypes. But by asking questions, keeping an open mind, and reminding ourselves that there is a lot we don’t know about any given subject, change is definitely possible.