Parenting a Child with Nonverbal Autism


You will forever have hope that the next year will be when they begin to talk, then you realize it been almost 18 years since the diagnosis.

Many years ago, right after Jake was diagnosed, my heart hurt, and I was seeking how to express who my sweet boy was. So I wrote this poem.

Looking back on my writing, I truly had no idea the journey ahead of us, but it’s played out just like I wrote, so many years ago.

A poem for my son.

My boy, Jake

The wonder of his voice; a word not spoken so easily.

The comforting feeling of his touch; to embrace that very moment.

The smile on his face; a wonderfully made boy.

The sparkle in his eyes; maybe a twinkle in disguise.

The joy felt in his heart; what laughter it brings.

The perseverance in his soul; so amazing to see.

The confidence in his mind; waiting so patiently.

The little boy in him; my boy Jake.

-Written by Luanne Helms, mother of Jake Helms in 2002-

It changes everything.

When they can’t communicate simple things, nor if there is something wrong physically, the worry and anguish is almost unbearable.

Feeling like your failing your child just because you can’t fix it, or even know what is going on. When you are their primary caretaker and you spend most of the time without conversation.

I sometimes feel myself becoming nonverbal, not knowing how to express my needs, not that many would even begin to understand anyway.

The loneliness of the invites that don’t come, not that you can just “go”, anyway.

Planning anything with this type autism is like a grand production, praying and thinking of every possible trigger, ways to escape if needed to quickly.

Parenting and planning for a fun day out or an appointment isn’t as joyful, or easy as picking up the phone, it’s wondering by that day will your child be able to handle the sensory overload of a doctor’s office, park, or church.

Eventually just choosing to not go. It’s easier that way.

Putting on a smile on the outside, when your worried on the inside, going and doing it, being on guard of insensitive people, dangers and triggers.

Autism awareness is every single day, 24 hours a day, in this house. It’s not just a word to bring awareness too. It’s a lifestyle.

It changes everything.

Yes, my son, You Are Great!

Written by, Luanne Helms

Luanne Helms lives in Opelika, Alabama with her husband, Jason Helms and her 19 year old son Jake. Luanne is the Area coordinator for the Autism society of Alabama for East Alabama.

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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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