The 4 Things that Helped our Son the Most

Many of you have been following our story for years. Some even since Cooper was three when I started this blog.

You’ve seen the ups and downs. The highs and the lows. You watched me struggle. And Cooper too.

Severe autism is a roller coaster. There is no doubt about that.

Today, he is 8 and doing so great. He is potty trained, sleeping, walking in the community, acknowledging people and his brothers, and starting to communicate.

Yes, his diagnosis is still severe, nonverbal autism with a side of Apraxia and a few other things mixed in. But he is thriving.

His anxiety is down. He is happy, healthy and learning and that’s all that has ever mattered to us.

These are the four things that most significantly contributed to our son’s success. Each one played a HUGE role in getting him to where he is today.

Find the right therapies

This is the hugest, most complicated thing that sounds like it should be so simple. But it’s not.

When a kid turns five, they go to school. Some go to preschool before. And that’s enough. One program typically fits all. Kindergarten is enough. Public Education is enough.

Not for my son or most kids on the spectrum.

He has been in early intervention, speech therapy, OT, PT, feeding therapy, an autism program, 3K, 4K, daily living skills, kindergarten and eventually an ABA program over the last 8 years.

It took dozens of things not working to figure out what was right for him. And once we found that, we saw huge, monumental changes within weeks.

Cooper started trying new foods, drinking from a cup, using the toilet, putting his shoes on. He quit eloping out the front door.

We found what worked for him. And people that understood his needs and HOW to teach him. That was huge.

Don’t give up until you find the right therapies and supports for your child. Remember, it’s not one size fits all.

Make sure your kid is healthy

This again sounds so simple. It’s not. Not when you have a nonverbal or semi-verbal kid on the spectrum.

They can’t always communicate pain or if they are uncomfortable. And instead, the pain comes out in other ways.

Self-injuring. Behaviors. Meltdowns. Frequent wake ups or refusal to sleep. And often, when you try and seek out answers or solutions, medical professionals will say, ‘oh, that’s just autism.’

I encourage you to start challenging that.

Our son had years of chronic ear infections and constipation and it wasn’t until he was five that we realized just how badly the pain was affecting his sleep, personality and well being.

He didn’t feel good. And it was waking him up at night. And making him irritable. It was a vicious cycle.

Find the right doctors. Ones who care and will listen.

Advocate. Speak up. Challenge when needed. Never stop fighting for your child’s quality of life.

Give them a way to communicate

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Give your child a way to communicate basic needs and wants.

Whether it be sign language, PECs, or a speech device. Once we gave our son a voice his behaviors drastically decreased. His frustrations went down.

He could say, ‘I am thirsty’ instead of screaming or hitting.

Imagine would it would be like to not be able to communicate.

We chose to go down the assistive technology path with Cooper and it has been amazing for him. You can learn more about that HERE.

Medication

I was against medication for my son. And let me be clear. I wasn’t against anyone else medicating their kids or themselves. I am pro-whatever helps. But for some unknown reason, I had blinders on when it came to Cooper.

I think deep down I thought medicating was giving up. I thought I was failing him. I was wrong. I was so unbelievably wrong.

My son suffers from severe anxiety. He couldn’t focus. He couldn’t shut it off. So he struggled. And on one particularly hard day for Cooper, my mother-in-law said to me, he can’t feel good Katie. He can’t feel good being consumed by anxiety.

She was right. My son was struggling with a very real thing. His anxiety was consuming him. And it was consuming our family.

Very cautiously, and slowly, we started him on anti-anxiety medication in January 2019.

It’s changed Cooper’s life 100%. He is like a brand new person. His personality is emerging. He’s starting to communicate. He’s sitting. And walking. His body is calm. He is sleeping better.

We are so careful and watch him every single day for any side effects or issues. We have upped the dosage once and seen no negatives.

I will never, ever tell you to medicate your child. But what I will say is I wish I would have done it years ago. My son is smiling. He is saying mom. He is happy. He is thriving.

If you would like to learn more about our journey with medication, please click HERE. Due to the craziness of the world, I don’t share the details with the masses. Please consider joining our subscription group. We’d love to have you!

I firmly believe it was a combination of these four things, and a pretty awesome kid, and parents that refused to give up, that has gotten Cooper where he is today.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

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, subscribe for exclusive videos, 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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