Small Big Things and Autism
The subtle monumental things that happen in this autism life.
Good morning, friends! I’m sitting here typing away next to my Christmas tree and drinking a cup of coffee. But Swenson style. Which means, the tree has almost been knocked over twice this morning. The coffee is cold because I poured it an hour ago but haven’t yet found the time to drink it. There has been pee. And an incident with Sawyer putting his feet on Habor which resulted in a wild bear-like fight.
A pretty typical morning in our world. Yelling and hugs and kisses and praise and bribes and ultimatums all wrapped in love and talk of butts.
This season I tell ya…it’s my favorite so far.
Yesterday, we had a birthday party for Cooper’s friend Liz. We met Liz at therapy many years ago and our family fell in love with hers.
Liz was the first girl I had ever met with the same diagnosis as Cooper…’severe, nonverbal/nonspeaking autism.’
Liz adores hugs. She loves my husband Jamie and babies and ponytails. She is 15 years old.
Liz is a ‘not-so-little’ girl who feels like sunshine. My favorite kind of people.
And when I think about my son’s autism, and the way it has changed our lives, I truly think about Liz. Because without autism, we would not have the most amazing people in our lives.
Liz’s party was at a Grand Slam, which for anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s a giant warehouse type building with mini golf, batting cages, laser tag, a trampoline, play structure, etc.
And children. So, many children. Or as we say in our world…. it’s a very ‘peopley’ place.
I could tell you some stories from bringing Cooper to places like this in the past.
He’s gotten naked at the top of a giant play structure more than twice. Imagine my face, standing at the entrance, when a pair of my son’s pants fall onto my head from above. Yup.
I’ve had a young girl call me fat while I was climbing after Cooper through a giant tube.
I’ve seen him mow over kids because he’s clumsy and unaware. I’ve watched him block the slide because it’s his favorite place to sit.
I’ve even witnessed kids mock his arm flapping.
I could go on and on about instances that have happened. And while they sound small, I will tell you that many of them broke my mama heart in two.
There is no pretending when your child is in a group of their speaking, playing, engaging peers.
The differences scream at you. And as a parent you want to shield them and run away as far as you can. And never go back.
But time has a way of going on.
Cooper is 11 years old.
And yesterday, was a day full of small, big victories.
One’s that stopped me multiple times in my tracks.
Cooper walked in calmly. He waited while we got our wristbands. He wore them the whole entire time we were there. Do you know how huge that is? I know it sounds small but my son wore the wristbands!
He jumped on the trampoline. He slid down the slide. He kept his clothes on.
He sat at the table and ate pizza and drank water. We didn’t have to bring special food or a special drink or cup.
He stayed by Liz during the singing of the birthday song.
He played some more.
He rode a motorcycle game.
We stayed the whole time.
He left willingly.
I am just overwhelmed with joy, and I wish and pray that every tender-hearted parent of a newly diagnosed child could read this.
There is so much joy ahead of you. I promise.
A birthday party with 7 guests (plus siblings). All 7 guests neurodiverse. All having a great time in their own way.
There was no sadness because our children were different. Only joy because they are exactly who they are supposed to be…and enjoying a birthday party!
I think yesterday was one of my favorite days on this autism journey so far.
If you do one thing today, please go watch this video on Facebook of Liz and Cooper during the birthday song. It’s everything and more.
Have a great day friend. Find the joy today. Put up your Christmas tree. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Eat good food. Something joyful.
Kate and Cooper
I am selling merchandise on Bonfire right now! Shirts, hoodies, bags, notebooks, etc. The money will be used for our upcoming Care for the Caregiver retreat in April in Minnesota. Here are just a few of the styles. There are more on the website.
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