Reflections on Year One of My Son’s Autism Diagnosis

As the year comes to an end with Christmas Eve in two days and we creep into 2016, we also enter year two of life as an autism family. And you know something? Year Two is going to look quite different from Year One.

In the months immediately following Cody’s diagnosis, we were mourning. Mourning the loss of what we thought was a typically developing child.  Then we quickly went through all the grieving stages  (in no particular order) and still do at times.  Then you hit the panic button wondering what therapy do we choose and what is best for Cody? Of all the 200 methods out their specifically for Autism, where do you start and who do you trust to help guide you through this journey?

But then suddenly, we changed—our eyes, like Cody’s, opened. Looking at the same landscape and seeing something different.

We pressed forward with as much early intervention therapy Cody could handle.  Books stacked in piles on the nightstand along with countless articles found on my Kindle to research and sponge everything we could learn about Autism. Our lives rearranged.

Then about half way through the year, we began to get settled into a rhythm of therapies.  Books finished, different schools of thought studied, conversations about fundraisers started, prayers said, progress snail-slow (but subtly occurring).

And recently for the first time the word “on” is contingent and he makes a vocalization when he wants something “on”. Not always sounding like “on” but he knows he must vocalize.

It’s those small steps and brings us such joy and hope.

He is trying to communicate.

Realizing that I’ve talked to God more in this past year than I have, probably, in the past decade. The day I realize it’s going to be okay. It’s not easy, and nothing—not even speech—is guaranteed. But it’s going to be okay.

For Cody, I want the parts of autism that cause him confusion and difficulty to go away; I don’t ever want his quirkiness, his unique intelligence, or his cute Cody-isms to go away. I never want him to lose what makes him Cody Rivers.

Year two is looking so much brighter than Year one. And it isn’t because I’ve resigned myself to the idea of nothing changing. I believe changes will continue to come and will never lose hope. I also have learned new things about myself that Cody has taught me.

Learn how he learns, think of what will make him happy and observe his actions versus what would make a neurotypical child happy.

For example, Cameron loved to put out the cookies and milk for Santa; he loved Oddle, his Elf on the Shelf and his funny appearances throughout the year.  He also loved to put out reindeer food for Santa’s deer every Christmas eve.

Cody has found joy by going to look at the Christmas lights or playing Christmas carols every night before bedtime.  He has fallen in love and is mesmerized with snow globes and trains so we made those things happen for him to find the joy too!

So Cody, I leave you with this quote for 2016 by Neil Gaiman:

I hope that this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living and pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing the world.  You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.



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

16 thoughts on “Reflections on Year One of My Son’s Autism Diagnosis

  1. We should all be as perceptive as Cody Rivers. He definitely can stop and smell the roses in such a
    way that teaches all of us to embrace life as it should be. He loves you dearly Mamma and will someday
    enjoy your beautiful words. Love you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing and giving us a peek into your lives. As blessed as you are to have him for a son, he is equally as blessed that God gave him you, Brad and Camo as his family ❤


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