My Son Doesn’t Have A Special Talent

We had our son Cody’s transitional IEP meeting today. We talked about the program Cody will be attending after High School and if it will be a good fit for him.

As we went around the table everyone introducing themselves, I found myself torn with emotion. Here I sit with the teachers, coordinators, OT, speech pathologist, and caseworkers who all were instrumental in helping Cody get where he is today.

And it seems with every IEP meeting I always ask myself the same questions.

‘Am I doing the right thing?’ ‘Will Cody do well in his new surroundings?’

If Cody had the language and understanding he would be able to attend his own IEP meetings. He would have a say in how he’s feeling and ultimately what he wants.

But that is not the case and for my son, I am his voice.

Oh, sure I videotape him having short back and forth conversations and using one to three word phrases on topics that he truly loves but in a meeting like this he would have no idea what we were asking of him. It’s very hard to still be speaking for your child when this is the time in his life that he should be able to say what he needs or wants.

I can only take my queues from the IEP team and together we implement a plan and hope he will transition well and ultimately thrive.

As everyone was reading their reports about Cody I started to wonder if they were embellishing because it is so difficult to see him fail. Each one was so encouraging. As they were telling me how far he has come and how great he was doing I started having a hard time believing it.

Every time I get coloring pages sent home or a card with handwriting on it and I always think..’who wrote this?’

I’m not trying to be negative or mean it’s just that I’ve never seen Cody do these things and I’ve been with him his entire life.

I’ve wondered if my son will ever be able to read his mail? Will he ever have his own checking account? Will he ever be able to go to the grocery store alone?

I feel like today the answer to these questions is definitely no but I am still hopeful. Maybe he’ll do these things with assistance and that’s okay but I also want him to feel like he’s of value in this world.

I want so badly for him to have a place and to feel wanted. I’ve truly never wanted anything so badly.

My son is diagnosed with autism. My son does not have a special talent. My son can’t even write his name completely or put his pants on the right way every day. He struggles with being calm every single day of his life.

He’s funny, quirky, loves food and loves to dance. It’s hard for him to relax. And when I read him a story each night, as I tuck him in bed, I have a hard time getting him just to lay his head on the pillow. He’s never not moving. He’s rigid and has a hard time throwing things away and repeats the same thing over and over again.

This is what my son’s autism looks like. My son doesn’t have a special talent. He can’t sing or play the piano or run a marathon but he still is very, very special to me.

Written by Leasa Hoogerwerf

My name is Leasa.  I am the mom of Cody who is 17 years old and diagnosed with severe autism.  We were told to institutionalize him early on and decided to do the complete opposite keep him with us, love him and work with him nonstop.  Cody spoke his very first word at 9 years old.  I started Cody Speaks to document our journey and share with others hope and encouragement.

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This post originally appeared on Leasa’s Facebook Page.

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  • Carmen

    June 21, 2018 at 2:44 pm
    Reply

    Beautifully expressed. When enduring the stress of parenting and caregiving a special needs child it can be hard to see the talents and abilities they […] Read MoreBeautifully expressed. When enduring the stress of parenting and caregiving a special needs child it can be hard to see the talents and abilities they came into this world with. I do believe each child/adult/ human being has them , each one - not just the NT ones. And I say that bc we used to attend a school where the main focus was finding those individual “gifts” and “talents”. I might even venture to say those gifts can develop (or not) or change throughout life (or not) For a example babies cannot play the piano, or do advanced algebra but they are teachers. They teach us to love them no matter how much they cry or or poop or not sleep! I don’t have that gift. I can’t teach people to love me by just being me lol, bc I have been given responsibility to use my other gifts. My friends gift is mothering. She says she has no real special talents but she is one great mom. People with disabilities can can continue to Teach throughout their life. Or show us how to love a good meal. I have a number of mom friends with eating issues that cannot let themselves enjoy a meal. Its not a gift, it’s a struggle. and I know this might sound like a lot of abstract information, but ever since we attended that school I’ve come to believe we each can use our gifts to share love in this world and some gifts aren’t viewed in our cultural as totally awesome and amazing like an incredible singer or dancer , but it’s those people with the gifts of endurance, teaching, forgiving, eating! That leave the biggest imprints on our hearts. Beyoncé is a beautiful singer but it’s the girl with Cerebral palsey at school I see everyday who endures her life that teaches me and her teachers the most about living a meaningful life. You are a wonderful mother , I enjoy your posts greatly 💝 Read Less

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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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