What I See when I Look at You

Before you were diagnosed sweet boy, I prayed for a lot of things.

I prayed for answers. I prayed to find doctors that would listen to me. I prayed for strength to never give up.

And I will admit, that I was so scared of the ‘word’ autism, that I prayed it was anything else.

A speech delay. A developmental delay. A hearing loss.

I prayed that you were just a late bloomer. That you were strong willed.

Anything but that word that people were afraid to say out loud.

Once you were diagnosed, my prayers changed again. Almost manically.

I prayed to make you better. To make your life and my life easier.

I had you and your brother. I was a 30 year old mother who felt like she was failing. Pretty much at everything.

So, I prayed that I could find you the right services. I prayed that I could find you help.

I prayed to find peace in your diagnosis.

I prayed that it would get easier.

And I still prayed for strength.

I prayed that I could get ahead of this diagnosis called autism. I was exhausted from chasing help.

I prayed that you were high functioning. That you would talk.

That you would make a friend. Go to public school. That you would just be the quirky kid.

That you could still lead a typical life.

That you would graduate high school. Move out. Get a job. Have a girlfriend.

I prayed for huge, big things. Speech. Self care. Independent living. Because those were the things weighing me down at the time.

As you got older I prayed that we could figure out how to help you.

We learned that severe autism was a thing. And that it wasn’t going away.

We learned that some kids never learn to talk. They stay nonverbal forever.

I prayed to find peace in that. To find the beauty in silence. In no words.

I prayed the word ‘autism’ wouldn’t define you. Or our family. I prayed that we could live the life we wanted too.

I prayed that we could go on vacations. Show you the world. Take you to movies and zoos.

Now you are eight sweet boy. We have been doing this for a while. A long while if you ask me.

Some days, the ones where you weren’t sleeping, felt like an eternity. The weeks and months where you were struggling and regressing felt even longer.

But, despite all that, we are in a good place now kid.

It’s almost surreal in a way to think about how much you’ve learned in the past year. Amazing really.

And our family has changed too. You have a baby brother. Sawyer is halfway through kindergarten. And me, well, I feel like I can breathe finally.

See, things started falling into place.

We settled in at your therapy center. We found great people to have in your life. People that really, really care about you. And want you to succeed.

We found a few people to help us as home. So we could take your brothers out into the world when you are more comfortable at home.

We found the right medications for you too. Ones that seem to calm your brain and body and allow you to be in our world.

And I settled down. For the first seven years of your life I was running a race. More. More. More.

I can say to you that your mom was crazy at times. So desperate to help you. Desperate to make your life better.

I had to get ahead of the struggles. I had to make a plan and have goals.

I had to get you healthy. And then sleeping. Then eating. Then playing.

And it was a race against time. Or at least I thought it was.

I was a blur. And because of it I truly feel like I missed a lot.

The hard screamed louder than the joy.

The struggles louder than the laughs.

But I’ve changed Cooper.

Eight years in and I’ve settled into autism.

And you have too kid. You are your own delightful, funny, amazing person. You are an absolute joy.

When I look at you, I don’t see sad. I see an absolutely beautiful life. And a little boy who is going to change the world just by being himself.

I used to pray for many things. And while I still pray for strength, understanding, acceptance and communication, I mainly just pray for one thing.

Now, I just need you happy kid. I need that smile every single day. I need your giggles and your squeals.

I need you to know how truly loved you are.

It’s funny how it changes.

I used to think I could never be happy unless you talked. Learned to drive a car. Graduated from High School.

Not anymore. I am happy if you are happy Cooper. That’s what matters to me now.

I think about all the therapy sessions I dragged you too. Some good. Some bad. Some pointless.

I think about the doctors we visited. Some across the state. Each one bringing a rejuvenated sense of hope.

We’d go. It would be a nightmare. These so called doctors couldn’t give me any hope. They didn’t have any answers.

We’d get back to the car. I’d cry the whole way home.

You’d be smiling and laughing in the backseat. Happy to be back in the car. With your mom and dad. And your treasures. Heading home to your happy place. With your family.

I’d look at you smiling, holding onto photos of your family, flapping your arms to a song, and wonder how you could be so happy. Didn’t you know how hard this all was?

You were missing out on life. How did you not know that?

And finally I realized, you weren’t looking for answers. I was. You weren’t desperate like I was. You weren’t sad.

You were happy kid.

Thank you for waiting for me. Oh, so patiently. Almost like you knew I’d catch on eventually. Silly mama.

True happiness is what matters Cooper. You had that. You always have.

Thank you for showing me that.

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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 our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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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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