Music to our ears.

We decided to keep Liam out of summer school this year. As any special needs parent knows, there aren’t many decisions that come without a pro/con list or many conversations with teachers, therapists and outside counsel. Matt and I knew in our gut, and this feeling was confirmed from his team, that a summer off was going to be a good training ground. Because his language is coming in like a flood right now, the best place for him to practice language is a summer full of interactions with his peers. {INTERACTION WITH PEERS. That this is happening, and something we talk about, still blows our minds.}

We are almost a month in, and we are so glad we made that decision. It seems like we are all able to breathe a bit for the first time in 3 years. 3.years {whoa}. We’ve kept his therapy schedule the same, for obvious reasons, but because he isn’t also in school, he welcomes the structure and consistency that comes from therapy. We’ve enrolled both kids in swim lessons and different local programs like karate and ballet, and we’ll be finishing the summer up with a family getaway — a first for us!

There have already been so many moments of growth that we have witnessed, and the sight of them is so incredibly sweet. There is never a way to explain what it is like to hear your non-verbal child talk and express himself {speaking and expressing are two different things}, or interact with peers using language AND SING. These are ways to communicate that we didn’t know he would ever experience. You grieve a bit in the not knowing, coming to terms with circumstances and outlooks so that you can move forward in the present, all the while carrying a bag of hope so heavy it feels like it will be your undoing. And then one day, like last December, glimmers of hope become a reality, one word after the next after the next, after the next. And it’s just been an explosion of growth ever since.

Liam has been singing every chance he can get this summer. Any show or movie that has a song in it, he tries his best to at least belt out the last “wooooorrrrrrddddd”. It’s the very best thing in all the world. And tonight, at a village birthday party, probably the 30th odd party he’s been to in his little life, after 30 odd attempts of Matt and I navigating social expectation, setting up understanding and modeling, Liam sat at a table full of his village peers and with Matt and I at the clear other end of the table, Liam {unprompted} sang Happy Birthday with the rest of the village….because that’s what you do. I had to walk out of the room because the tears came on too fast to handle. After so many attempts, so much work, so many gatherings, our baby did it on his own. With his own words.

Effort matters. It just does. Our effort looks different than yours, because our goal, our person, is different than yours. But I can tell you mom and dad, all those moments that you stay the course, not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel…they MATTER. Hope hopes. It breathes life into your weary bones. Stay the course. Keep on. And every other motivational quote that sets your lungs on fire and gets you out of bed in the morning.

IT.MATTERS. It just does.

Just Keep Swimming,

Team Oakes XO


One thought on “Music to our ears.

  1. WHOA. I am stunned!!!!! You guys — both of you — write such amazing, wonderful, loving, deep pieces! I love reading your blog! To be honest with you, I’ve written a book together with my 19 year old son, Canyon, who’s been diagnosed with autism — about his life experiences. I’m running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the publication of that book … and I wanted to look at blogs by parents of kids who have been diagnosed with “autism” in the hopes that they might have some ideas for sharing news of our book and campaign with other folks. I found Mathews’ post on Autism Speaks first and I was absolutely astounded. What clear, beautiful, and direct words from a father about the whole parenting experience with an exceptionally unique child (children!) I was blown away. Then I came to your team blog and read Courtney’s words and I was equally astonished … and touched!!! I am so grateful that, in my following my own path, I crossed yours. You two are such loving, compassionate, openly honest people … and so well able to write about your experiences. Please let me know … now or in the future, if there is any way that I can assist YOU! And if you would like to check out what I’ve created with my son, please click the following link to view the info about our book called, “Love, Canyon: Beyond the Autism Label” … (and press the K-S button on the right, if the video doesn’t take you to my page.) I hope our paths cross again in the future. Many blessings!!!!!!!!!!! Ana Lora

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