Understanding Cody Rivers

People often ask me, “How do you understand Cody’s needs and wants if he can’t tell you?”  Parenting without clues is no different than taking care of a baby. I have to go through the normal steps: Does he have a fever, or the presence of any rash?; is he eating?; is he pooping? I go over our day with a fine-toothed comb and mull over every detail as deeply as I can remember it, searching for clues that will help me figure out what is wrong. Taking care of my son does require added time and patience, and it’s not without its own frustrations, but caring for Cody also reminds me of the most primal relationship between a mother and her child: he needs, and I give. Again, and again, and again.

Where is gets tricky and where he may struggle is if he enters a new environment or with people he has never met. This is why it’s so vital that you nudge (not push) just nudge new experiences and provide different opportunities for him to explore as much as possible.  2017 was defined as my year to expose Cody to NEW things.  I set a personal goal for myself to start these family outings on Sunday’s or any days really where we try new things as a family.  Cody is not going to say, “Mom I really want to try soccer or t-ball? Or Mom, I really would love to learn to play an instrument.”  It’s up to me to explore all of these with him to see what his interests may be and then act on those interests.


I listened to a great talk earlier this week from Temple Grandin. She was giving a lecture at Colorado University to the students on how the world needs all kinds of minds.  She highlighted some of the greatest innovators today and what would have happened to them in they were wrapped up in todays’ educational system?  Let’s just say, they would have not exist.  Offering opportunities for Cody is important to me. Its important for me to find things he enjoys.  Look at when we started equine lessons at new Home Therapy Center? I told all of my family, after our first 6 lessons, if Cody will walk along the side of a horse in the arena, then we have succeeded.  I based this on what I observed how he was with our pets. Today, he is learning how to care for a horse, walk, trot, using commands and gets stronger every single lesson.  Not to mention the sheer joy of his smile when we turn on FM CR1830.  It’s his reset button for the week.

Another important  thing to remember is to have constant open communication that is ongoing with all of your therapists.  I tell Brad all the time, that our therapists are the PB and J and I am the bread to hold us all together and accountable.   I believe as I mentioned in last week’s blogs, is so vital to Cody’s success.  Also, its important so you know if he may be requesting something a little different from one day to the next to know what he is needing.  He also learns something new every day, and you need to know these small steps so you can continue working on them to ensure they transfer regardless where he may be.  A communication log from Cody’s school is read out loud from me as soon as I hand him off to our in home therapist. Vice versus when we drop Cody off each morning to his communications class, we are noting or sharing yesterday’s therapy session with them. Not once a week but every day with every therapist.

So yes, it can be very exhausting but so vital for the growth of Cody’s progress right now.  As a mother, I just have to be very in tuned with his every day and ask lots of questions especially if I am trying to understand if he has a tummy ache or a sore throat or just tired. Overtime, my other senses have enhanced when you remove speaking, which has been super helpful.

Yesterday, Brad and I both got a little sad over a situation we were discussing on a struggle Cody was having and he reminded me, “We will keep pushing as we always have and deep down we know he’s going to make it, but on his terms, not ours.”  I agreed with him and said, “I love you.”   

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

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