[autism] The silver lining of raising a nonverbal autistic child 


The silver lining

There’s a silver lining to having a child with autism that people don’t talk about. Specifically there’s a silver lining to raising a child that is almost neurotypical after having raised a severely autistic child. I say almost because Jude has issues too; he’s in speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. That said, despite his developmental delays, Jude is now progressing very well.

The past month, Jude’s vocabulary exploded. He went from 5 words to almost 50. He can sort of count to 5, he knows seven colors, and he even knows our names. To most of you, these things probably seem completely ordinary but to us it is simply amazing. We’ve never experienced anything like this with Charlie so we’re finally getting to experience what we had dreamt parenting a toddler would be like. We have a child who interact with us, shows affection, talks, imitates, socializes, and follows directions. Every little milestone is special on its own, and even moreso because our only previous experience has been with a child who’s missed almost every one.

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Jude is now more advanced than Charlie. It’s bittersweet. But before you think it, no, it doesn’t make us love Charlie any less by comparison. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s helping us grieve – to grieve for the moments that we’ve missed forever by having a child like Charlie. It makes our struggles with his autism more bearable. It’s easier to handle the lengthy tantrums, hundreds of screams a day, the sadness of not knowing if our child even likes us, and his inability to communicate.

All of these things are a lot easier to handle now that we know that Jude is most likely not autistic. We have one of each! We get to experience raising two wonderfully unique children. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for Charlie. He taught me to think with my heart more than with numbers, and he taught me that they are a lot of assholes in the world but that if you keep searching, you’ll find people who care. He helped me get answers about myself I probably wouldn’t have gotten under other circumstances. He taught me you can love someone without words, without even looking at them. He reminds me of The Little Prince and his message “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  It’s always been my favorite book. And then, there’s Jude, living out our dreams for us everyday. I don’t know where we’re going and the future in uncertain but, my boys make this journey pretty amazing. They’re each other’s yin and yang. They complete each other perfectly and (most of the time) I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Enjoy this video of Jude make Charlie dance:




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  • Reply
    christiane DEVERTU
    2017-06-16 at 8:49 AM

    Magnifique et magique. Jude va faire progresser Charlie c’est certain. super forts les 2 frères. Des gros bisous à Charlie et Jude

  • Reply
    2017-06-20 at 10:01 AM

    I have just discovered you on instagram and then found this blog, and couldn’t be more grateful, there are so many things about my family and our story that we share, and finding this simply feels good. I have a 3 year old non verbal sweet boy with ASD and I have a 15 month old baby boy that is developing apparently neurotipically in many areas but is starting to have a speech delay and makes me worry. Basically I have been a mom for 3 years now and never hear someone call me “mama”, which makes me a little obsessed. But most of all and despite how hard it is, I enjoy life with them, and it’s the same impression I have about you after seeing a few pics and reading a bit of your blog. I am also a photographer like you and I will be following your posts and your photographs, which I think are wonderful. Thank you for sharing, I always thought about starting a blog myself and you are truly an inspiration <3

    • Reply
      The Autism Cafe
      2017-06-20 at 4:50 PM

      Thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot to me. I completely understand how you feel. It took almost 4 years for me to hear “mama” from one of my boys. It wasn’t from my oldest but I’m hopeful that one day Charlie will call me “mom” too. For what it’s worth, my youngest had a severe speech delay too (1st percentile), until last month when he started talking pretty much overnight. Now, he only has a minor speech delay. I hope your little one catches up soon. Our youngest don’t have a “good” model because they’re around their big brothers who are nonverbal. Kids learn a lot by imitation. Best of luck to you, and thank you for reading!

  • Reply
    Lori B.
    2017-07-13 at 4:14 PM

    I think it’s great that Jude is growing up so wonderfully. I think that Jude himself, as Charlie’s brother, will be helpful, if not an integral part of Charlie’s therapy. Siblings are better than peers to help an autistic child understand how they should behave, speak, and act. Thank you for sharing!

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