Today you are seventeen.
In the eyes of the world you are practically an adult. At six feet tall, you look every bit the part of being grown up. But when I look at you, I still see a little boy, my buddy.
You have been my buddy your entire life. From the beginning, waking up at the exact same time every night, we spent quality time together as I rocked you back to sleep. This is when I first discovered Martha Stewart...thank you.
You explored the world your own way and taught me that we didn't have to do things like everyone else. Why bounce a basket ball when you can lick it? This is where I learned not to care what anyone else thinks...thank you.
You refused to be hidden, tucked away "out of sight and out of mind". The school superintendent knows your name, that's ok. This is where I learned the importance of standing up for what I believe in...thank you.
You gave me a voice, and I have tried so hard to give you one.
Now more than ever I realize, you have always had a voice. You have used it from the very beginning it has just taken me and the rest of the world a while to catch up and learn to listen.
Autism brings with it many challenges, and some have been very hard on you, but through them all you have taught me many things:
- Because of you I understand someone can have a voice with out speaking.
- Because of you I see and hear things I never would have noticed.
- Because of you I have learned what it means to be patient, and determined.
- Because of you I am grateful for successes and failures, and I have seen the value of both.
- Because of you I found a voice I never knew existed.
Time has moved quickly and I often feel I have failed you, that I haven't done enough. It's not that I wanted to "fix" you or "change" you...I just wanted to give you what you needed and help you understand the world around you.
But I think that maybe, it is you who are helping me understand.
Happy Birthday Cooper