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“Every. Word. Is. Savored.”

Courtesy of Rebecca Turner

There’s a common saying in the autism community that sums it up perfectly: “If you’ve seen one autistic child, then you’ve just seen one autistic child.”

This is TJ. The first thing our almost 5-year-old says every morning is “It’s morning time. Good morning, Mommy!” Every little syllable out of his mouth is precious. Every. Word. Savored.

See, it wasn’t that long ago that TJ said nothing. Instead, he screamed, he kicked, or he threw himself on the floor and banged his head. He had so many feelings, wants, and needs that were trapped inside. It’s not that he didn’t have the intelligence to speak his mind; he just didn’t have the ability.

That was then.

One year, two months and 10 days after starting early intervention (believe me, we’re counting!), it is hard to differentiate TJ from his peers. His meltdowns are almost non-existent, and he isn’t just limited to the mere five or 10 words he possessed then. The possibilities are endless. But unlike typical children, TJ is not likely to come home and say, “I learned a new song today at school.” Instead, at the most inopportune moment, he will belt out that song.

Sure, TJ faces communication, behavioral, dietary and other physical challenges. But the thing that makes him stand out is his ability to love, and there is nothing more powerful than love. Whether it is the love for other people, or love of learning, TJ has it all. 

By Rebecca Turner, mom of Maya, 6, and TJ, 4