Seeing Autism Through Your Eyes

I don’t think about autism really. Not anymore. Or about my son being different than his peers.

He doesn’t have a label at home. Or even a diagnosis. We don’t speak in clinical talk or point out how he is different from other 10 year old boys.

He is Cooper. He is not autistic Cooper. He is not nonverbal Cooper. He is himself. Perfectly made and one of my three boys.

I think that’s the beautiful part that comes with settling into a lifelong diagnosis. In the beginning, the differences were all we could see and think about. Now, ten years in, we don’t know any different.

And yet, there are times, when I catch my sweet boy doing something, flapping or squealing with joy, or lining up a hundred pieces of brightly colored construction paper, and I notice people watching.

For a second, I will wonder why. Is there something on his face? Is he doing something wrong?

And then I will remember, oh, this isn’t typical behavior. See, I forget. I forget that he is different. And that autism is unique to some people. Scary even. Confusing and attention grabbing.

A few days ago, our family of 5, was dropping off our middle son at his hockey practice. Usually, I stay in the car with the other two boys, while dad brings Sawyer in and dresses him.

But this practice was different and many of the families had gathered in the parking lot.

When Cooper and our toddler saw the excitement of kids playing in the somewhat deserted parking lot, squirting water bottles, running and laughing, they immediately demanded their release from our car. They both wanted to join in.

Within seconds, our two-year old, was playing tag and chasing the much older boys. He was in heaven. He adores his brother’s friends.

Cooper, not one to join in, was still excited by this newfound chaos. He immediately dropped to the ground, as he typically does, and started flapping with joy and rolling to try and keep up with the running boys.

His laughter and his nonverbal sounds filled the air. Soon he turned up the volume of his video and a song by Barney, the purple dinosaur, echoed around us.

He was in heaven. I stood close, making sure he was safe, but giving him space to play in his own way. And then something caught his eye.

I watched him touch his cheek to the parked back tire on our car and then pick at a stone jammed in the rubber tread. Then run his fingers through the silt that had gathered in a crevice near his foot. He loves sand. I watched him study it for a minute, as if seeing the individual flecks. T

hen quickly pop something into his mouth.

I happened to look up and notice people watching him. Moms. Dads. Strangers. No mean looks. No judgmental looks. Just curious ones. And for a second, I panicked thinking, did something just happen that I missed.

But then I looked down and saw the 10 year old boy in the brightly colored leggings, spread out on the blacktop, his chin resting on the ground, studying ants crawling in a row while the 7 and 8 and 2 year old boys talked about Fortnite and played, ‘tag-you’re-it.’

They were seeing autism. They were seeing our son. I’m sure most of them had questions, but no one asked. I forget sometimes.

I forget that our world is so colorful and loud and intense and joyful because it’s the only world that I know.

I smiled at them and said an internal prayer hoping that they watch our world with curious and kind eyes. And that if one of them dares to ask a question about the older boy who doesn’t talk or play hockey, that someone will speak about autism and it’s beauty.

I don’t ever want my son or our life, to be a sad story that is whispered about in parking lots.

That’s my prayer. If someone asks you about Cooper. Don’t whisper. Please, speak about us and him and the color and the magic with conviction and kindness.

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.

2 likes
Prev post: The Gift of SightNext post: This is Why We Celebrate Everything

Related posts

Join Coop’s Troop
Join Coop’s Troop

Become a Supporter of Finding Cooper's Voice and join our online community, Coop's Troop. Membership includes Facebook Lives with our family, giveaways and more.
JOIN NOW

About Me
About Me

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!

READ MORE

SHOP OUR SHIRTS
SHOP OUR SHIRTS
FindingCoopersVoice
SHOP OUR SHIRTS
SHOP OUR SHIRTS
Sign up for Finding Cooper's Voice
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!
SHOP OUR SHIRTS
SHOP OUR SHIRTS
Most Popular
SHOP OUR SHIRTS
SHOP OUR SHIRTS