I’m Thankful for you: My Sister, My Rock

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Deakyn is our almost four year old son who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and is nonverbal.

He was diagnosed earlier this year but we knew before that. He showed what we now know now were early signs when he was younger. Not knowing a lot about autism, just that it was something other people’s children had and that it wouldn’t happen to my family, we didn’t consider it

We came into the autism world blind but ready to learn.

He was a happy baby and a good sleeper but never required a lot from anyone and it didn’t seem to bother him when I would be gone for work all day.

This just made me think that I had a ridiculously independent baby, until he was one.

Then the screaming and melt downs started. He didn’t sleep, eating habits got bad and there was no reasoning with him.

He didn’t start talking when we anticipated he would. He didn’t respond and avoided eye contact leading us to think he was just ignoring us and had become a difficult child.

His pediatrician recommended we start with speech therapy, which we did. It’s never brought any words for us causing us to feel frustrated because being new to this, we thought speech therapy would make our nonverbal son speak like magic.

But the months went by and still no words so we looked at the therapist more as a teacher for us on how to handle certain situations and what to do at home to help develop his speech.

She invited him into her preschool at 2.5 years old and has continued and moved into the 3-4 year old class with a fantastic teacher and her team who work with him in an ABA style.

I love all these ladies and am so appreciative for what they do and that they share in my love and excitement for all of his milestones met.

We appreciate all our family who’ve supported us in this journey of learning and discovering what autism means in our family and always treating Deakyn with love.

Today though, I want to take a minute and thank my sister-in-law who has been incredibly involved in our journey with Deakyn.

She loves him and has the patience and understanding for him that not everyone can.

Cassandra lived with us for his first year of his life and moved up the road and continued to watch him while I worked. She would rock him when as he screamed, wake up and take him from me in the mornings so I could sleep.

She never acts like taking him for the day or week or just to run errands is going to be a bother.

She makes her home autism friendly and creates a no stress environment for us as parents who come and visit and are no longer in our element.

She reads the autism articles I find, follows the blogs I send her, she cries with me over the sad, hard and happy moments with Deakyn and never passes any judgment.

She looks for ways to stay involved even though we live a state away now and continues to educate herself and those around her about autism and how every kid with autism is their own person.

She looks for and notices kids in her community that remind her of Deakyn and asks to hear about their story and shares ours.

She is one of the greatest people I know and has been a rock in our autism journey.

Thank you Aunt Cassandra!

Written by, Shalisa Brown

You can follow their journey on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/deaksdestinations/.

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

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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