The Difference a Year Makes

photo 3On Sunday we brought Cooper to see Thomas the Train. Good old Thomas makes a trip to Duluth once a year and it’s a huge day in Cooper’s world. It’s also the cutest thing ever. It’s held at the depot and kids actually get to go on a 20 minutes train ride.

Last August when we went and saw Thomas, Cooper was 2.5 and he has just been (mis)diagnosed with a moderate hearing loss in both ears. He was very nonverbal at this point in his life. His breakthroughs didn’t really happen until age 3. Looking back, age 2-3 were the REALLY tough times.

He really struggled with group events. He didn’t and still doesn’t really understand sitting still or being quiet. On the train ride he ran up and down the aisles. It was awful. I remember looking around at EVERY SINGLE OTHER CHILD sitting still and looking out the window. I am pretty sure I left in tears.

This year Cooper rocked it. He played in the jump house, played trains, and was so excited to be there. The day couldn’t have went any better. THANK YOU GOD. We needed this. When we boarded the train I immediately spoke with the conductor and asked if we could keep the doors separating the different train cars shut. I told him that I had an autistic child who would most likely need to roam around during the train ride. He was great and said no problem.

On an aside, I have noticed that while I am getting more comfortable saying that Cooper has autism I tend to whisper it. For example I will be like, “Cooper is doing great. We did just learn that he has (whisper) Autism.” It’s really quite bizarre and I am doing it subconsciously. Weird. Maybe I think people won’t hear what I am saying.

So, on the train, Cooper sat still for the whole entire ride and looked out the window. What a difference a year makes! He laughed and squealed and pointed and was so excited to be there. When we got back to the station he signed ‘all done’ and that was that. Painless and enjoyable. A glimpse of what life should be like I guess.

That evening we took Cooper to a waterpark at a hotel. Oh my gosh he kid was in his glory. This was the FIRST time in Cooper’s whole life that he acted exactly like a typical kid would. He played and splashed and went down water slides galore. I can’t even put into words how it felt to see it. It was loud in there so it didn’t matter that he wasn’t talking. He wasn’t scared. He climbed the steps (in the kiddie part) and went down the slide a hundred times.

I think one of the hardest part about autism for me is that it robbed me of those special moments. I saw a glimpse and it was freaking amazing. Cooper has very few interests and we finally found one that he loves. Lots of swimming will be in his future.

Pictures from last year…

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Pictures from this year! My boys are so grown up!!!

photo 1 photo 4 photo 2






10 thoughts on “The Difference a Year Makes

  1. Kate, I read your posts and it’s just a flashback for me, 27 years ago. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There will be more times like this, when Cooper will enjoy his world. It takes time. He has to learn, and become a part of our world. It will happen. I remember being told, when Chuck was Cooper’s age, that about the time you think you can’t do it anymore, he will change and you’ll notice things starting to happen for him. Now that Chuck is 30, I realize how far he’s come, reading your blogs. The only difference for you is that there are people who you can talk to. There’s so much out there about autism, and you have technology. I didn’t have a computer, and so I didn’t know that there were others living the same life as I was.

  2. Thanks for sharing! It’s moments like those that renew our strength and remind of us of the progress our little guys have made. Id have him enrolled in swim therapy and everything swim related! Lol. We are wound so tight that we can’t fully enjoy the little things they can do and focus on the all the “buts…” you all deserve this!!!! When having a tough day live back in every moment of that day. Soul food!!!

  3. Aww, yay, what an awesome time!! My heart is so happy for you and your family after reading this post. Hopefully there will be many more special, fun Cooper times to come, especially now that you’ve found some things he loves to do. 🙂

  4. That’s awesome news that you & cooper enjoyed yourselves so much:) wonderful news. I live in Canada and we plan to go to a” day out with Thomas ” event as well in July or August . My 3.5 yo also adores Thomas:)

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