Is My Son Happy?

‘Everyone has a different idea of what happiness looks like.’

Is my son happy? I think about that a lot. As do many parents of children who struggle to communicate. Who can’t show us.

For a lot of years I honestly didn’t know the answer to that question.

At age five my son didn’t laugh or smile much. He didn’t enjoy leaving our house. At home, he isolated himself a lot. He didn’t play or interact really. He was full of anxiety, only we didn’t know because anytime we asked the response would be…’oh, that’s just autism.’

But it felt Iike more than that. It felt like he was sad.

He cried and whined a lot. He seemed like a mystery to me. I would spend night after night wondering, ‘how do I help him to be happy?’

I’d spend hours studying him. Watching him.

He had Dora and Barney and Thomas and the history of the great American railroad. He had thousands of sheets of construction paper. He would wrap himself up in a dozen soft blankets and burrow into a nest with his treasures.

And I’d wonder…is he happy? Am I doing enough to make him happy? Is he lonely? Is he sad?

Today, I know the answer. He still doesn’t tell me if he’s happy. He’s not able to. But, he seems to exude joy…in his own way.

I know because he dances. And grabs my hand to dance too. He stomps his feet in mud puddles and giggles at the squish.

He runs to the calendar and makes me write ‘zoo’ or ‘choo choo store’ on certain days and claps and jumps when we count how many sleeps left.

At least once a day he slides on his belly like a penguin. He loves doughnuts with sprinkles. He prefers to be home. He likes when his family is near him.

He wears t-shirts with trains on them. He holds a card from his grandparents and a picture of his father and I on our wedding day.

This is his happy.

Parents, we need to remind ourselves that everyone has a different idea of what happiness looks like.

It isn’t always the norm. It isn’t always loads of friends and hobbies and trips to Disney. Or the latest toy or video game.

Our children are uniquely made.

Our kids are allowed to have their own version of happy. And once you realize it may not look like any other persons…you will find so much more joy. I promise.

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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