The Unveiling of Autism – Finding Cooper’s Voice

There comes a day where you realize that admitting autism is hard isn’t a choice you have to make, but rather it’s a moment in time where the struggle of special needs parenting goes from secret to unable to mask it any longer.

This switch happens when people start to recognize meltdowns that are no longer age appropriate, and it feels like every eye is on you.

It happens when aggression kicks in to your daily life, and you realize there isn’t a safe space to go anymore because your child’s rigid behavior starts controlling every move you make.

When the birthday party invitations stop coming.

When playdates aren’t scheduled anymore.

Your child still has a deep love for preschool aged characters, and their peers have moved on to “big kid” themes.

You aren’t registering for Little League, or cub scouts, and your circle of connections to moms of same aged peers is getting less and less.

You struggle to make time for coffee and lunch dates because you’re rushing off to IEP meetings, and therapy, or you’re just hoping for a few hours of sleep before the next sleepless night.

I know, because we are there too.

My heart breaks in the moments where I realize we’ve hit the age of the great divide.

My sons stimming is apparent to others, dropping to the ground isn’t uncommon, and screaming in protest has become to familiar to us.

I see the way other people look at us, I try my best to ignore their reactions, but the truth is I’m not oblivious.

I decided long ago we wouldn’t hide from autism, we would still give Jackson the opportunity to experience life just like any other child would, but it’s become extremely isolating.

We often have to divide and conquer, as we call it, to give our daughter equal opportunity and access because we know Jackson’s rigid routine and behavior can often overshadow.

Admitting autism is hard feels like defeat, so we hide these proclamations deep down in the darkest corners of our heart. We try to only see the good, and the light, but the isolation chips away and the internal struggle seems to allow the words to sneak out.

When autism becomes apparent, and the shift of your social experiences change, it’s hard. And I find myself sitting in the dark, waiting for the storm to pass, so that I can remind myself that our life is still beautiful even amidst the differences.

So to the parents who are facing the “age” where autism isn’t your story to share in your own time anymore, because the public displays have shared your child’s differences for you.

I will be sitting with you in the dark, as we search for the glimmers of light that remind us there is beauty in the differences and that there is joy to be found in our lives.


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