‘Cooper, it’s mom’s birthday today!’ My son looked back down. It stung. Then he pointed to his iPad.’: Autism mom in tears after son nonverbally wishes her happy birthday

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“This morning I walked downstairs to my sweet boy sitting on the couch, surrounded by his treasures.

He waved. It was quick, though. He was very busy watching his shows. He takes his show watching very serious. Especially on weekend mornings.

‘Cooper, it’s mom’s birthday today!’ I said.

Now I don’t know what I expected. Not words, of course. But a cheer. A smile. A gasp. But nothing.


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He looked back down. It stung. Like a tiny bee sting or a poke in the side.

But the pain is duller these days. It doesn’t take my breath anymore. It’s just enough to take notice.

That’s how it’s changed over the years for me.

What used to drop me to my knees now stings. We’ve gotten stronger, he and I.

As I made my coffee, steps away from him, I thought back to being 28, and when I first became a mom.

I was such a different woman then. Untouched by autism. Oblivious to the beauty and possibilities in being different.

I knew nothing of adversity. Not really.

And then I heard it.

Sid the Science kid singing ‘Happy Birthday!!!!!’ on my son’s iPad.

I looked back to see the biggest smile on my sunshine boys face as he pointed to his ear and then to his iPad, nonverbally telling me to listen.

‘It’s my birthday! And we will have cake and balloons and presents…’ said Sid, the PBS Kids character.

And then he clapped and pointed to me. He was using the character to communicate with me.

I sobbed right there. I couldn’t help it. The happy tears fell from my eyes.

He knew. He understood. He just had to find the words and way to tell me.

This is his autism. Complicated, creative, beautiful, and in his own time.

I can say with certainty this was the best birthday gift I have ever received.

Thanks buddy. I love you. Today, we shall party! In our own way.”

Courtesy of KT Swenson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by KT Swenson of Finding Cooper’s Voice.

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