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"It's Like Learning A Foreign Language"

Courtesy of Danielle Cooney

Jourden was diagnosed at 4. I’m a young parent; I was only 22 when he was diagnosed, and I had no idea what autism was. It’s like learning a foreign language, and you get lost through all the different acronyms: ABA, SLP, OT, I.E.P., B.I.P.

In the beginning it was a major struggle—from almost being removed from daycare due to his behavior to losing an apartment because he screamed at night.

Since he is non-verbal, it’s hard to grasp how much he knows. He can write his name but we don’t know if he can recognize the letters. He only says “no,” “bye,” and “all done.” He knows a few signs he learned when he was 3 but it’s hard for him to focus long enough to learn.

Now an average day is Jourden waking up at 7:45, taking his meds, going to school, coming home and setting up Netflix on his Wii. Our joys are his love for construction. He can build tunnels and bridges out of anything: tissues, Capri-Suns, DVD cases. I have learned that Cottonelle tissue is stronger at holding cars than Angel Soft.

But I’m still waiting on the day that he looks at me and says “Mommy.” I long to hear that.

By Danielle Cooney, Mom of Jourden, 9