What are you thankful for?

As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you thankful for? Why?

I recently was approached from the Social Media Director at Autism Speaks to write an article and share what I am thankful for.  I took a few weeks to really give this some thought.  All of these things kept popping in my head but there was not just one that was stronger than the other. Imagine your family telling you that you are going to host Thanksgiving dinner at your home but all you are going to serve is the Lime Jell-O salad.  It would not be complete unless you were serving the Thanksgiving traditional meal including, a herb roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, perfect turkey gravy, green bean casserole, brown sugar buttered glazed carrots, homemade cranberry sauce, sausage and sage stuffing topped off with an assortment of homemade pies.  Now that you are probably hungry, the point is, I am thankful for a lot.  Thanksgiving is more than just the food.  It’s a holiday when families gather together, share fellowship and their blessings, enjoy parades and watch American football.  It’s more about the shared experience than just the Lime Jell-O salad.   As I gave this question thought, I realized, I am truly too blessed to be stressed.  So, here is what I am thankful for during my first year after Cody River’s diagnosis.

  1. My Amazing Cody Rivers

Why?  In 11 months he has attended 178 sessions of ABA, Speech, and Occupational Therapy.  His constant affectious smile never leaves his face even with the countless hours he has completed. His progress increases and he makes me incredibly proud every day.

  1. Cody’s Biggest Fan

Why?  Cody’s biggest fan is his big brother!  There is a bond between them that is unexplainable.  Cameron is a big part of his therapy every day and his newest thing before bedtime is to hang out in brothers’ room and re-arrange his trophies.  If he asks for “sugars” he will lean his head in for his brother to give him a kiss.

  1. My Mom’s Favorite Son in Law (This is an inside joke as this is her only son in law)

Why?  My husband and I committed to being the best advocate for our Cody Rivers – Learning more about his unique needs and abilities along with reaching out for support has enabled us to be a better family to our boys and better partners for each other on this journey.

  1. My Family

Why?  Unconditional love and support.  We constantly find ourselves always looking for the positive from the progress we see with Cody and our family reminds us at every moment, “small steps every day.”   And the times we get down, they quickly help us back up remembering the progress from one time frame compared to another time frame.

  1. My Extended Family, Friends and Neighbors

Why?  They ask questions, check in on us and intrigued about Cody’s progress.  I can post a photo of Cody wearing a Batman cape, and next thing I know, my neighbor sends him with a Batman figurine.  My friends and their friends all over the US supported Cody during the Autism Awareness Month and shined a blue light at their home honoring him.

  1. Autism Speaks

Why?  I believe the first rule to Autism, is to talk about Autism.  Autism Speaks has given me those tools to share with our family.  When Cody was first diagnosed, we sent them a letter along with the 100 Day Kit for newly diagnosed families with children with Autism.

  1. CR’s Therapists

Why?  I’ve watched patient therapists capture my son’s attention and work so diligently, week after week, to elicit even a vowel sound from him.

  1. My Job (#CamdenGood)

Why?  I work for a company that believes in a work /family balance and believes in me. It is just another reason why Camden is a Great Place to Work!

  1. Families Living with Autism

Why?   I’ve been blessed with all the friendships that I have made through Cody’s journey.  We have come very close and continue to stay connected through a forum on social media even when we take different paths with therapies.

10.  The Little Things

Why?   Writing fuels my strength for our Amazing CR.  Writing is like an invisible cape that makes me feel powerful, hopeful and strong for our family…..it’s a little thing but I am thankful for it.

Sometime this Thanksgiving or in the coming weeks, you and yours will probably share notes on the things for which you’re thankful.  Perhaps you’ll take the basic approach, where everyone at the table mentions one thing. Or you’ll ask everyone to write an affirming note of some sort on every guest’s place card. Or distribute a pre-meal questionnaire.  After a few tears and belly laughs, reflect on all that you are thankful for and you will see it’s much more than just Lime Jell-O salad.







Published by mamalamaneustupa

Bio My name is Shelley Neustupa. I am a mother of two cool boys and a wife of 22 years to my high school sweetheart. My oldest son attends the University of Oklahoma. Boomer! My youngest is in 2nd grade and was diagnosed with Autism and Mixed Receptive Expressive Disorder at age 2. Since his diagnosis, I promised him I would advocate and educate as hard as he works each day in therapy. I began writing and have been able to touch many parents that may be new to this journey providing them with actual experiences (not candy coated), support and resources through my entries. Writing is my therapy and my hope one day that my nonverbal son will be able to take these diaries and speak about his own journey and how autism relates to his own experiences. Who knows he and his older brother may become National Speaker’s one day? Come along on our journey to better understand our lives through the eyes of a boy with autism, his Skilled Companion dog Jude, his big brother (and best friend) and mom and dad. My raw vulnerability captures the everyday moments of our journey and will bring even more awareness. A week does not go by where we do not learn something new about ourselves and I want to share these chapters with you. My Sons Undeniable Strengths… Extremely smart and figures out things quickly. Has a memory that allows him to remember more things than I could ever hope for. Persuasive by his personality and sheepish looks. Overabundance of stamina and strength. Loves the outdoors. Enjoys life and always has fun with an unforgettable smile. You can find us here: Writer: Autism Through His Eyes Facebook Instagram YouTube Pinterest Canine Companions for Independence News Interview Cody and Skilled Companion Jude - Our Story

2 thoughts on “What are you thankful for?

  1. Thank you for sharing, Shelley. It is great to know that writing and recording these moments give you strength – I am sure it is giving strength to so many others! My love to you and your family, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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