Brad and I were working away yesterday morning upstairs in our office listening to Cody down stairs with therapy.  Tuesdays are my full day at work so Brad works from home until 11:30 am and takes Cody to my in-laws for the afternoons so I can work straight through.  It’s a great perk to have therapy at home but can also at times bring you too close to reality.

We began to worry.

Listening for our therapist to try to get a simple “ba” for ball and Cody would try every sound with the exception of “ba”.  You could literally hear him trying so hard with such determination but just could not get that simple “ba” for ball.  Last week, he started waving bye bye and we noticed this started to regress over the weekend as he would not wave when our therapist arrived.  We then finally just shut the door and focused on work temporarily until we could gather our thoughts and re group with some questions I could ask in our Team Meeting the next day.


Temple Grandin once said, “There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of what they cannot do.” I am one who is always looks at the glass half full and has positivity running through my veins however, I am human too. There are times where I doubt, worry, question, pray more and lose site on the leaps and bounds Cody Rivers has already made since we started intensive therapy.


We then gathered our thoughts, wrote down some questions for the team meeting and prepared ourselves to hit the reset button and we did just that today!  Our therapist made some suggestions and we made some alterations and shifts to our programs.  See, what I have learned so far through this journey and what no one tells you is therapy truly is 24/7. Not 20/6 or 22/7 but 24 hours and 7 days a week.  Parents and siblings have to learn how Cody learns.  There is no therapy “sessions” it’s all the time if we want to see those breakthroughs.

ʺI had people in my life who didn’t give up on me: my mother, my aunt, my science teacher. I had one-on-one speech therapy. I had a nanny who spent all day playing turn-taking games with me.ʺ – Temple Grandin

And while we certainly have our struggles, I have also been able to find many blessings that come with being an autism parent.  I call these GIFTS.

Gift #1

I have learned that I can better relate to people and have a stronger sense of empathy.  I find myself having more patience with people and genuinely take the time to ask them questions especially when I know they have a special needs. I am just generally more accepting of others.

Gift #2

I no longer judge others’ parenting. I understand right now that I may not know the battle they are fighting and or have an understanding that their behaviors may not be controlled. What I do know is I have a sense of happiness that these parents bring their children out to experience life regardless of their special need.  I no longer judge the mom whose kid isn’t wearing a coat when cold or will only eat chips at the restaurant. I now know that it likely isn’t lazy parenting, but a parent doing the best they can with a child who may have sensory issues. It is a good feeling to be free of judgement.

Gift #3

My friends, my family and my AUsome Moms.  Just thinking about what I am about to type on the keyboard, makes me tearful….My friends…when we started this journey, I had friends who could easily chose to mis-judge and not really understand some of the challenges we face with not being able to attend some gatherings or wanting to fully understand Cody’s diagnosis.  That was NOT the case. I am so blessed.  The patience and understanding is always there even if I go a few weeks and sometimes a month without being able to catch them up.  My family…having a strong support unit, where they can cheer on successes, be there to ask questions, bring you up with you feel deflated is so important. I am very blessed to have family and extended family always being their for us. My AUsome Moms…I have met  some wonderful autism mom friends. Trust me, when you have a special needs child, your autism mom friends can be your saving grace especially when you are trying to make tough decisions on what best for your child’s well-being.  They get it. They know the highs and the lows. They are in you and your child’s corner, boxing gloves on and ready to go, as you are for them.

Gift #4

Every day is a blessing. At the end of each day, when I tuck Cody in bed, I am overwhelmed with joy and love for him and the day we have had together. He is such an amazing little guy and has brought so much joy to all of our lives. And while our days may often be filled with challenges and struggles, I am able to appreciate each day that much more.


This post will have to have a continuation as I keep thinking of more gifts autism has brought to me that I may have never know before Cody’s diagnosis.

What gifts has autism brought to you and your family?

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

6 thoughts on “Gifts

  1. Love this one. I have so much hope for him. He is so wonderful and strong. You, Brad and Cameron are so much stronger than you think you are even though you may not see it, I can definitely tell you that the people around you do. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

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