In honor of Autism Acceptance Month

Happy Autism Acceptance month! So far, I’ve spent April doing my best to amplify the voices of autistic people on social media — the advocates who have been irreplaceable in my parenting journey since our almost-3-year-old, Koimburi, was diagnosed last July.

In that same spirit, I’m here to share 5 facts I’d like our loved ones to know about autism — with links to learn more on each topic from advocates who are actually autistic.

I recognize that most of our friends and family aren’t exposed to autistic perspectives on a daily basis. The…


How to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

Last Sunday, my husband and I were on a Zoom call with friends, and the conversation drifted to how excited we were to be getting our vaccines. Hunja had just gotten his, along with a few others on the call, and the rest of us were feeling hopeful about getting it soon.

After listening patiently to our excited chatter, Hunja — if I can describe how I felt in the moment — rained on our parade. He spoke about his heartache at the horrific disparities in how the vaccines are being distributed globally…


Becoming a mother is beautiful, thrilling, and deeply fulfilling. It’s also all-consuming, and can bring us to a place where we have trouble remembering who we are. In Part 1, we discussed that two things can be true: becoming a mother forever changes us, AND, at our core, our unique wiring and the passions and dreams inside of us haven’t disappeared. We talked about how changing our definition of “productive” can help us regain a sense of accomplishment, and how expressing our passions and interests in the act of parenting can help us still feel like ourselves.

Today, I’ll touch…


“Parents need to focus on healing and empowering themselves. They must shift their beliefs about autism. Once the parent knows who they are, the child will respond.” — Lori Shayew

A note: I wasn’t sure whether to share this story. I want everything I share about autism to be from a perspective of joy, strength, and empowerment. I want my writing to reflect that every facet of my son is a gift; it’s not autism, but the world’s response to it, that brings any fear, inconvenience, or negativity into the equation. But I want to be transparent at this moment…


How I’m making peace with “me” in motherhood

Do you sometimes feel you’ve been eclipsed in motherhood? Me too.

When I became a mom, I didn’t realize that when I met my first little blessing, I’d also be meeting another completely new person: me.

It’s not that I was suddenly unrecognizable, but a gulf now seemed to separate the old me from the new one. That disconnect was jarring. How I spent my time, the things I cared about and prioritized, where I invested my emotional energy — it all changed, and left me dizzy in the process.

The innumerable ways motherhood changes us are both remarkable and disorienting. The capacity…


How growing in discipline — gently and graciously — has brought me wellness and joy

Credit: brainenergysupportteam.org

Do me a favor. In your mind, picture your most grace-filled friend: the one who consoles you when you’ve blown all your new year’s resolutions, normalizes your struggles, and reminds you that your worth is not defined by your accomplishments.

Oh, hiiiiii! *waves frantically* It’s me! I have all the grace, for myself and everybody else. …


On reveling in the present moment as you grow into all that you are: autistic, loving, joyful, and free

My precious one,

I love your smile. I’ve never seen such twinkling eyes, such pure sweetness. I thank God for each smile, each laugh, remembering when they were much harder to come by not so long ago.

I love your energy — how you sprint across the room out of pure excitement, over and over again, squealing with glee and clapping along to Cocomelon. The pitter-patter of your feet is unmistakable from every corner of the house.

I love your determination — the force with which you grab my hand and lead me to wherever I’m needed. The way you…


In 2021, I decided that I’m going to write.

It started out as a whisper. While making my (first-ever) vision board last month, the word “WRITE” in a cute font stood out in a magazine, so I pasted it right at the top. I’ve always loved to write; I love the way it pulls tangled thoughts out of my brain, and I’m fortunate that my job requires a good deal of it. Even just taking the time to write a long Facebook post on a social issue or a reflective Instagram caption brings me energy and clarity like little else…


“I learned a long time ago that my children would inherit one of two things: either God’s promises, or my fears.” — Lisa Bevere

My favorite humans.

I don’t consider myself a fearful person. I’m free-spirited, tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and don’t map out my future with much detail.

Enter parenting.

Suddenly two people exist in my world who make my heart burst with love, and whose destinies are seemingly up to me to decide. Will they be kind? Will they be socially conscious? Will they love God? Will they love themselves? Will they make wise decisions? I want…


The pulpit at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

I took this photo from behind the pastor’s pulpit at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. While interning for the SPLC in Montgomery, AL in 2008, I had the honor of attending this church, where Dr. King began his journey as a pastor and organizer.

As a teen, I was enthralled by the history of the Civil Rights Movement, but that summer in Montgomery was revelatory. It pushed my mind to see beyond the isolated stories of “heroes” who were always pictured in black and white, in some seemingly faraway time and place. I began to see in full color: to picture…

Ellie Hunja

Passionate about: my faith, my kids, racial justice, autism awareness, foster care, mental health, ending mass incarceration, empathy, adventures, and dessert.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store