Pam Malhi is the mother of 20-year-old Aaisha who lives with autism.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, kicking off Autism Awareness Month. As the name suggests, we aim to raise more awareness and acceptance of autism.
It is the fastest growing disability in modern Britain. One in every 68 children are diagnosed with autism. It's a life long disability and it has no cure. It's an invisible disability - you can't tell just by looking at someone that they have autism. The spectrum is huge and no two people with autism are the same. They may have similar traits but they all lack skills in their development and in understanding the world.
I'm a huge autism advocate and I'm extremely proud of my daughter. She is my world, along with her two siblings. Autism is a journey that nobody can ever truly prepare you for. There are many positives, many negatives and some life-changing milestones on this journey. It's always going to be filled with bitter and sweet moments.
I want to raise as much as awareness and acceptance as I can for everyone affected. I'm almost 20 years in on this journey.
I've been told "I'm brave", "I'm inspiring", "I'm amazing". The truth is, I'm not any of those things.
I'm simply a mother.
A mother who is trying to do the best she can. A mother whose heart breaks on a daily basis.
A mother who knows her daughter will never grow up. A mother who's scared for the future of her daughter.
A mother who still cries to sleep some nights. A mother who at times feels completely useless.
A mother who watches her grown adult daughter still behaving like a 2-year-old. A mother for who time stands still for her daughter.
A mother who has never experienced a real conversation with her daughter. A mother who will never get to see her daughter say "I do" or have her own children.
A mother who knows her daughter will never have an independent life. A mother who so wishes there was a cure!
So you see, it's not really inspiring at all! In all honesty, it's cruel. It hurts. It's tough.
But she's my daughter. SHE's inspiring!!
I will never give up on her. Autism effects everyone living with it. Her siblings have had to grow up before their time, they've had to make many scarifies, they've missed out on a "normal" childhood. They know more about autism than they probably do anything else. Autism chips away at you each day.
However, no matter how tough it really is, I wouldn't be without her. I wouldn't know what to do with myself. This has become our life and it's our "normal". No-one truly understands what it's really like unless you, too, are living with it. I know it's because of my daughter I am who I am. It's because of her I have more compassion, more understanding, more humanity.
She has made me this way.
Without her, I probably would be wrapped in my own world, where my little problems would seem huge and I wouldn't understand what real difficulties are - that's the truth! So you see, I owe her so much. Because of her, we, as a family unit, are better people. We take nothing for granted. We have an amazing bond, full of unconditional love. We share others joys and sorrows like they are our own. We are not bitter.
We don't know what the future holds but what we do know is that we will continue to be her lifeline. We will continue to support her no matter how hard or tough it gets. We will get through the bad days together and laugh together through the good days. We will never give up on her or lose faith.
We will love her unconditionally and we will be her eyes, her ears, her voice, her rock and anything else we need to be. She will always come first.
Maybe now you can understand why raising awareness and acceptance is vital and so important to those living with it. I want my daughter to experience as much of the world as she can without stares or rude remarks.
I want her to experience all the things we take for granted. Above all else, I want her to be accepted for the beautiful young lady she is.
She didn't ask for autism. As her family, we ask for awareness and acceptance.
These are the views of mother Pam Malhi and do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.