Forget the 2 front teeth!

US Today, Washington Post and many others shared a story that will bring you to tears. Watch this. I always try to look for the good in every sad story.  The joy, peace and calmness Santa gave this young boy in his last few minutes will always be remembered by so many and especially his mom.

Sunday night we hosted an AUsome Moms event at a local indoor park.  The park was closing to the public and was staying open for us to host our holiday party for the moms and families that have children on the autism spectrum.  As the children were all leaving, we were unpacking the decorations to get set up and the Santa we hired for the photography showed up at the same time. At that very moment in time, while I watched all these children’s faces light up and wanting to speak to him, the holiday spirit rushed over me for the season.  Brought me such joy.

I won’t lie, I was thinking to myself, I wonder how Cody will do this year?  I wonder if we will be as frighten as last year or even the year before at the fire house?  Last year, I thought for sure would be a WIN for our Santa visit because I was able to set an appointment with the Santa Cares Program.  This is a program designed for special needs where they give you an appointment time to arrive so there are no lines and they do this before the mall opens so you can avoid the holiday hustle.  They even gave us complimentary tickets to the aquarium afterwards to enjoy before the mall opened. We set out as a family that Saturday morning to all go and of course I had the family coordinated in outfits in case a photo opportunity arose but it was just too much.  The sensory overload was overwhelming for  Cody Rivers and was very tough on our entire family.  Once we got him calmed down we attempted the aquarium and that too did not go over well.  I don’t give up that easy and gave some words of encouragement and quickly reminded the boys, we will try again next year.





Back to the past Sunday, The AUsome Moms Board of Directors and our Teen/ Young Adult Coordinator and Photographer finished setting up and we were ready to open the doors for our big event!  You see, this organization is devoted to supporting local moms in our community and making a positive impact in their lives and the lives of their children. So over time, we have not only extended our family, we have also learned from each other but we have also supported each other.

As the people starting pouring in, families were providing treats and drinks for the event and Santa was set up and ready to listen to everyone wishes.  About an hour in, I decided it was time for us to go see Santa.  I could feel the anxiety that Cameron and Brad were thinking but told them, let’s try, as a family  Worst case, if you guys can leave early and I will catch a ride home after we clean up.   We had  been showing Cody photos of Santa and the jolly ole soul was pretty much all over our home in the decorations too!

When it was out turn to meet Santa, I looked at Brad and asked him to grab a snack. I gave a quick disclaimer to our photographer so she quickly positioned us so we could all be in the photo. And in case you are wondering, I did not coordinate matching clothing this year!  I guess I feared if I put too much effort into the planning, I may would have been discouraged again.  Brad distracted Cody while we were getting positioned around Santa and held up a pretzel paired with the vocal and Cody replied, “Pet-zal.”  This seemed to keep him calm.  Then suddenly, Cody looked over his left shoulder and there he was sitting next to Santa!  He did not care for it much BUT there were no tears and no screaming so as far as I am concerned, this was a WIN!  He just kept looking at him to see if he was still there and for the first time he actually sat next to him; on my lap of course but much better than the past years.

The next day, I sent the photos to Brad and Cameron with such delight knowing Cody had made another great stride! So, all I want for Christmas this year is small forward steps, forget the 2 front teeth! What a fun evening with our AUsome extended family and my boys!

The series at church this month is about the the best gifts come in unexpected packages. Unwrap was those look like for you.

The Neustupa Family – 2016

(if you look closely you can see the pretzel he is eating.)  



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

4 thoughts on “Forget the 2 front teeth!

  1. Cody is so brave. To sit next to a weird looking guy all dressed in red has to be a major break through for this precious soul. Great piece Shelley. Love you all so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is hard to do through my happy tears. Shelly this was a cherished win win for you and your family.
    I don’t really know you, but I do know you and that special little man Cody.
    You’ve shared almost an entire year of his life with me and I have seen his improvements grow by seemingly leaps and bounds.
    I see it in his more direct looks, in his upright posture, his laughter, his smiles, I see it in HIS JOY and forever in his very precious smile.
    Cody would not be 10 of what he’s become in just the time you’ve shared with me and the fact that YOUR HIS MOM.And the fact that he has such a caring and devoted Brother and his Dad.
    So yes beautiful family, forget the two front teeth. This guy will end up giving you all back THE WHOLE BOY. He can do it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hugs to you. Thank you for following us all year and makes me realize what often gets forgotten when you review how far he has progressed vs. living each day. Thank you for reminding me. Thank you for your kind words. Merry Christmas!


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