The Beauty of Learning About Differences

As a mother to an autistic boy, I find myself trying to educate often.

Kids. Teens. Unknowing adults. People who stare. People with kind eyes and people who are afraid of differences.

I encourage questions even.

Why does he flap his arms?

Why does he roll on the ground?

Why doesn’t he talk?

Will he live with you forever?

Some of the questions are easy to answer. Some are harder. And honestly, some I do not know the answers too. I may never.

The visible differences used to make me sad in a way. I didn’t want my son to stand out. But I’ve evolved. I learned over the years that hiding, disguising, trying to blend in…that’s not for us.

We are proud of Cooper and his differences and by talking about them, we take away the stigma. There is no reason to be embarrassed. We don’t whisper autism. We say it proudly.

Educating about my son brings me comfort now. It means people see him. It means they want to know more. They want to understand.

But lately, something new has started happening. I’ve found myself explaining a two year old boy to Cooper.

Essentially, explaining ‘typical.’

See the younger one there? He is the definition of busy. He gets into everything. He climbs counters. He digs holes. He loves puddles. And mud. He puts things in the toilet.

If he sees a toy box he will always dump it out. If he has food he will most definitely grind it up and smear it somewhere.

And to Cooper, that behavior does not make sense. Why would someone act so, so, so naughty?!

Multiple times a day he will look to me and point, informing me of the shenanigans that are about to go down.

He will sigh. He will shake his head. He will clasp his hands over his mouth giggling.

See, he’s always watching. He knows. He sees it all. Things that I don’t ever see because I am distracted. And it’s adorable.

Cooper is turning into my helper. Slowly. But it’s starting.

He picks up after his younger brother. Every time he hears that toy box get dumped out he jumps into action.

But there is more to it too. He taps my shoulder when the baby runs off. His eyes never leaving Harbie’s body.

And he puts his hand on his brother’s shoulder to keep him safe and still when it’s truly needed.

Watching them figure each other out is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. I know they don’t understand why one doesn’t talk and why one puts his shoe in the dog’s water dish.

Or why one flaps or why one messes up a perfectly good pile of treasures.

But they are working through it.

It’s my job to help explain their differences to each other. And I’m sure happy to do it.

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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