I’m Thankful For You: My Daughter, My Son’s Best Friend

(Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Amy Vipond and is part of Cooper’s, ‘I’m Thankful For You’ Campaign.)

This November, I am so thankful for my daughter Olivia, who is 4 1/2 who is literally my son, Jace’s, best friend. She doesn’t see him as different, she only sees him as her brother, or ”baby” as she still calls him!

When Olivia was younger, she had a speech delay. She could only say a handful of words, but everything else was right on track for her development. So we got her into Early On, which provides speech therapy in your home once a week. Olivia began to progress quickly and soon went into a classroom setting and blossomed! She’s now almost caught up with her peers and doing amazingly well in pre-school!

When Jace was born, he was taken to the NICU after my c-section due to fast breathing (tachypnea) for 10 hours. Longest 10 hours of my life. When I finally got to hold him, he was perfect! He was barely fussy, loved to snuggle, and a great eater! He had me wrapped around his little finger! Once we were home, he got more fussy, as babies do, but no other issues for many months!

He was a little late on crawling and walking, but within range, with no babbling or attempt to say any words, he seemed to ignore us a lot. Needless to say, we got him into Early On. He made little progress over the course of several months. After much persistence, we got him evaluated and diagnosed on April 10, 2017 at 11:34am. I even remember the exact time I heard the words. The exact time my world stopped. A month later, I had him in ABA therapy.

Now, since the day we brought Jace home, Olivia loved him. She would watch him, give him toys – even when he couldn’t play with them yet. She would make him smile and laugh all the time. It was amazing to watch. When Jace got diagnosed, my world stopped. I fell apart over and over and over again and broke down into tears more times than I care to admit. While my world changed, Jace’s didn’t. He was still my beautiful, amazing, 2 year old boy.

Olivia, bless her heart, came up to me and sat on my lap while I was trying to fight back the tears during an impromptu crying fit, and said to me, “Mommy sad. Mommy crying?” And I said, “Yeah, mommy’s sad about baby.” She looked over at Jace, watching a movie, and she said “Baby’s watching tv. Baby’s okay!” And she walked over and tapped him lightly on the head, “See? Baby’s fine!” Oh the wisdom she has at 4 years old. Jace is okay. Jace is fine. It’s me who has to change. Me who has to accept his reality. I love her so much for her acceptance of him. She never asks “why doesn’t Jace talk? Why does Jace hit his head? Why won’t Jace play with me?” It’s like she accepts him how he is and never complains about it. It amazes me.

When I think of who I’m most thankful for, it’s not the doctors, it’s not the teachers or the therapists (although I am super thankful for them everyday!) No, I’m thankful for my daughter. I am so thankful for her kindness, her sweet innocence, and most of all, for the amazing love she has for her brother. It’s incredible to witness the love she has for him and how she cares about how he is, at just 4 years old. 

Olivia gives Jace hugs and kisses, tickles him, keeps him from running off or falling down the stairs. She plays with him the way HE likes to play, forgetting what she wanted to do. She’ll chase him and play tag all night if we let them. She invites him to play with her and friends at the park. She doesn’t see him as different. She includes him, understands he can’t talk yet, and knows when something is wrong with him. She doesn’t see him as a burden. I am so thankful for such a caring sweet daughter. I only hope as they grow, they get closer and their friendship remains.

Without Olivia, I don’t know how we would get through his breakdowns and his rough days. She brings a smile to everyone and she’s just so much fun. She bring us happiness and hope, and I couldn’t imagine our life without her!

You can still nominate the doctors, therapists, teachers, friends and family that make a difference in your special needs world. Click HERE to learn how!

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!


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