You’re a Champion

Today I was going through some pictures from last year, and this memory came up of you the morning before your first race for the Special Olympics.

Second place.

That’s where you came in at.

To most that means you aren’t a winner.

Not the champion.

I often feel like that’s how people with autism and those that have special needs are looked at…less than, not as good as, inferior.

It takes me back to the words specialists used when they would describe severe, non-verbal, Autism to me.

Delayed.

Behind your peers.

Later than others.

What did all of that mean for us back then?

I had no idea. I couldn’t envision the future or what you might be doing.

I could only see a silent child lost in the background of other toddlers who spoke and engaged with others.

I worried about how others might see you..disabled, broken, and less important.

I had fears about how others would treat you..especially as you seemed to be more in your own world.

I was concerned kids and parents would separate you from their groups and that you would feel like you weren’t good enough because you couldn’t always do what everyone else did, nor did you want to.

You were now being placed in a class of individuals that only made up one percent of the world population..a group of people that tend to be socially marginalized, bullied and misunderstood.

You couldn’t talk.

You couldn’t even communicate.

Autism was now a label we both had to carry like a heavy backpack, one that couldn’t be removed. It was filled with cant’s and wont’s.

But as I watched you grow, we learned to carry it together, sometimes removing items and putting them back as your regressions would tip the scales off and on.

Some days the backpack was heavier than others, filled with frustration, aggression and meltdowns.

Others, it was lighter, as we removed obstacles, and you gained skills..one by one.

Eventually the words, “he can”, “he does” and “he will” became part of my conversations with parents who were searching for a light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Pretty soon your Autism just became like a skin..it was now a part of us…a package deal..because we are a team, you and me.

In every race I’ll be cheering you on.

Like all contests, games, races or award shows, the biggest prize, the blue ribbon always goes to the one who is deemed the greatest..the first to finish or score highest.

Your ribbon may not be blue.

The funny thing is, when they tried to give you red, you wanted yellow instead.

The place didn’t matter to you, it’s the color that did..because that’s how you see the world.

People may say you’re not the best throughout your life.

But they don’t know what you’ve been through…all the doctors and diagnoses. They don’t know how hard you’ve worked..the hundreds of hours of therapies you’ve been through in and out of your home.

All the blood, sweat and tears we have shared to get you to this moment in time.

They don’t know how challenging it is for you to even participate in the race…how many years you have practiced just waiting patiently for your turn, to not be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the crowd, and to follow the rules like running straight down to that purple ribbon without getting distracted and veering off into the field.

Others may measure your success on your place in the race.

The world doesn’t usually view second as the most outstanding.

But they don’t have my view baby boy.

To me , you STAND OUT above them all.

There’s no such thing as second place in my eyes anymore because kids like you work so hard to reach the finish line…

The challenges you have to overcome just to take part in the race.

The word “never” was thrown around a lot around your diagnosis, a word I guess I refused to accept.

You have so many more races to run baby boy..so many things to accomplish and achieve.

And as you reach each finish line, you will see me there, your proud Mama, with tears in her eyes shouting “YOU DID IT!”

Because you will.

You have beat the odds and defeated challenges day after day.

You have surpassed many expectations and you give us and others so much hope.

And no matter what anyone says…

You’re a champion.

Written by, Sheryl St. Aubin

My name is Sheryl St. Aubin. My family resides in sunny, Florida. I have been married to my husband, Matt for fourteen years and I’m a Mama Bird to three beautiful, socially unique, children. While juggling this crazy life, I blog/write at Three Little Birds-Raising Kids On The Autism Spectrum. I attempt to be a tour guide for other parents by  sharing our story and trying to raise awareness for our community. My writing has been featured on Finding Cooper’s Voice, Filter Free Parents, Her View From Home and Love What Matters and Today Parenting. You can follow our journey on Instagram: threelittlebirds321 or on Facebook at Three Little Birds – Raising Kids on the Autism Spectrum.

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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, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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