A Glimpse Inside This Secret World of His

I have a story to share with you. A little long possibly, but worth the read. My son Cooper is 12 years old. He has a diagnosis of nonverbal/nonspeaking autism. He loves trains and swimming and asks me every single day to go to outer space with his friends, the Little Einsteins. He is in 6th grade. He uses an iPad called a ‘talker’ to communicate. He’s never quiet. He loves to take photographs. His hair is blonde. He has a mole on his right foot next to his big…

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The Little Brother and the Big Brother

There is 8 years between these two. 12 and 4. The little brother and the big brother. I know the facts. The little ones spoken language passed up his older brother’s years ago. He has a hundred words. He uses full sentences. When the younger one leaves home, Cooper will be 26 years old. A grown man. The younger one doesn’t know what autism is although we celebrate and speak openly about it daily. He does know that his old brother doesn’t talk though. He asks about it almost weekly…

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Let’s Teach the World

My son, I want to tell you about the beginning. The beginning of autism. And a bit of the middle I suppose. I used to get so upset when people stared at you. You’d be flapping. Or making happy noises. Screeches. Grunts. High pitched screams. One second you’d be on the floor and the next running only to drop to the ground, roll, laugh and pat the ground. Or you’d be melting down. Screaming. Either way it almost sounds the same. Loud. I’d look around. Make eye contact. Sometimes I’d…

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He Taught Me How to Truly Listen

A few days ago I was driving myself and my four kids home from my mom’s house in Wisconsin. We had just celebrated Christmas and my SUV was packed to the brim with toys, leftovers, and love. The sky was dark as I navigated the backroads I’ve driven home for 30-some years. I remember being a little girl and dozing as my parent’s car bounced over the same bumpy roads. Only this time I was the parent, and I had three sleeping kids in the seat behind me, and one…

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His Interests Stay the Same

As we age, our interests change. They evolve. They grow with us. But what if they don’t? What if they stay the same year after year? In the real world, they call it age appropriate. It means teenagers shouldn’t be watching Barney or adults shouldn’t be believing in Santa. Someone once told me to turn off the cartoons and put on the National Geographic channel. I still laugh about that. They thought parents like me should be forcing interests. My son is 12. He’s amazing. And he loves Peppa, Barney,…

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Two Brothers

These two had a brotherly scuffle last night. Very typical in a ‘not-so-always’ typical life. The older one is 12. The younger one is 9 for a few more weeks. I could hear them wrestling upstairs. It honestly sounded like the ceiling was going to cave in. I heard laughter. Squeals. Stomping. Running. Words. ‘Come and get me!’ And the nonverbal responses that Cooper gives. Sounds. Happy pitches. Clapping hands. So much joy. And then a scream. Yelling. Running. Tattling. A near tears explanation that Cooper ripped the fuzzy ball…

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Nonspeaking Communication Can Be So Beautiful

I have a beautiful moment to share with you… This morning, when I came out of my bedroom, far earlier than I would have liked, I knew my Cooper was waiting on the stairs for me. For one I could hear train whistles and happy music. And secondly, lately, he’s been waiting for me more. Near, but far. Not close enough to touch, but easily heard and seen if I peek around a corner or under a table. He gasped as he usually does when it’s been a period of…

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“There Was None Of This Autism Stuff Back When I Was In School”

‘There was none of this autism stuff back when I was in school.’ I hear some version of that statement often. It typically comes from someone older than me, and most often, not from a cruel place. More of a place of curiosity. I do my best to educate. I explained to them that not that long ago, kids like my son were kept in different parts of the school. And before that, placed in institutions. It’s true. Most people don’t want to believe it though. I’ve educated myself on…

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We Shouldn’t Feel Like We Can’t Share

The other day I found myself with a group of mothers. We all had kids roughly the same ages. We chatted about the craziness of raising kids right now. We laughed. We vented. We did what mothers do. Then we bragged about our amazing kids. One mentioned her son getting straight A’s this year. And practicing for his driver’s test. Another spoke of her child going on a missionary trip and how great that will look on her college application. We chatted about sports and the things four year olds…

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The Colorful Kids

‘My son had never been invited to a birthday party before. I hope you know how much this means to us.’ Yesterday, we had a birthday party for our son Cooper. And we invited his friends. The kids we have met along the way. The ones who don’t necessarily talk or play sports or fit in the norm. Our kids. The colorful kids. At one point, a mama said to me…’we might not make it into the party room. He might not go.’ My response…‘that’s ok. You never have to…

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