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The Special Guest

I welcome every opportunity I’m given to share our family’s autism journey and speak about all of ways in which Skyler amazes me. However, this past weekend, speaking at the autism conference felt significantly more important than any other talks I’ve given. My emotionally charged words and examples of Skyler’s courage and resilience were directed…
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Party of Three

This is us. A forever, inseparable party of three. Weekends spent in perpetual motion, trying to keep our 20-year-old, autistic, nonverbal son entertained. Always on repeat, his mind and body requiring the same regimented plan for the day. Awakened at dawn due to urine-soaked bedding followed by a quick shower and demand for his favorite…
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The Hug of My Life

Twenty years… That’s how long I’ve waited for a simple hug from my son. You see, my 20-year-old son Skyler is on the severe end of the autism spectrum, is non-speaking, has global motor difficulties and suffers from Crohn’s disease. Frequently people ask me how I know that Skyler loves me or appreciates the great…
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Muffins Age 7

Muffins with Mom

What an honor it was to spend the morning with Skyler. I truly can’t believe that 13 years have past between my first and what was likely my last “muffins with mom.” So many emotions are going through my mind as I look at the photos of then and now… Age 7 – Skyler was…
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Sky And Mom

Just Keep Trying

Routines are an essential part of life for many on the spectrum and my son Skyler definitely demands consistency. I’ve spent this entire weekend parenting solo and essentially filling as Joshua Hellmann (aka Skyler’s favorite person) doing all the special things they normally do together while Josh is out of town running the Cleveland Marathon….
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Enjoy Today

I’ve envisioned this moment many times over the years. What it would feel like to experience the high school graduation of my youngest child, Kendall, having not had the opportunity to enjoy this same moment with her older brother, Skyler two years earlier. Would I be overly emotional at the ceremony? Proud and elated for…
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Presuming Competence

It takes a lot to fire me up and anger me to the point I lose sleep over a nasty remark or unsolicited comment about my parenting. But, when I received the below message regarding Spelling to Communicate (S2C), I threw my phone and screamed a few choice words in the air: “As a parent…
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What is your plan?

My son Skyler is on the severe end of the autism spectrum, is non-verbal and suffers from Crohn’s disease. He is one week away from turning 20-years-old and I’m not prepared. I recently sat down with Skyler’s case manager, who I absolutely adore, for our annual meeting to discuss the waiver service options and hours…
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Letting Go

Letting Go

Letting go is hard! Particularly when being in complete control is my love language! You see, as much as I hope, pray & dream for my nonverbal, autistic 19-year-old son to be even minimally independent, caring for and managing his every need is all both of us have ever known. I know he is capable…
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Im Fine

I’m Fine

I’m fine. Such a conditioned response I’ve used for the entirety of my life no matter the situation. Served cold food that tastes dreadful – my response to the waiter when asked about my meal is always the same, “it’s fine, thank you.” Someone terribly hurts my feelings or I’m physically injured due to no…
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Dismissed And Underestimated

Dismissed and Underestimated

My 19-year-old son has Ulcerative Colitis, non-verbal autism, complex needs and global motor difficulties. He has been dismissed, underestimated and deemed incapable his entire life by those who are trained to support, teach and encourage his growth and development. I attended a meeting at his autism center yesterday with the understanding we would be discussing…
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Aging out of the system

My 19-year-old son has Ulcerative Colitis, non-verbal autism, complex needs and global motor difficulties. That description is getting harder to repeat … not because of the various diagnoses but based on the heavily uncertain future for adults on the spectrum, the sheer mention of his age sends me into panic. With the holidays now a…
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What Is Wrong?

I pride myself on writing honestly about my life – the good, bad and the nasty.  As much as I aim to find the silver lining in all situations, sometimes with autism, it’s buried under many, many levels of HARD and refuses to reveal itself! For the past three months, each day of parenting my…
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The Damage of Timelines

Although it has been 16 years, I have never forgotten a single detail of my son’s autism diagnosis. The sterile exam room overwhelmed my senses. Waves of peroxide and latex stung my nose. Unwelcoming, stark white walls irritated my eyes. The click of the neurologist’s pen as he scribbled down notes, void of any emotion,…
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Sibling Shadows

With much of my life and the majority of my social media posts revolving around autism, the impact that diagnosis has on each member of our family – particularly my daughter, often goes unaddressed. Parenting neurotypical children while simultaneously managing the ups and downs and countless unknowns of a special needs child is extremely hard….
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Enough is Enough

From the minute you become a parent, the overwhelming fear and concern sets in.  You constantly question whether every choice or decision you make on your child’s behalf is the right one.  When your child has special-needs, the endless self-doubt triples. The options for schooling seldom are plentiful or a perfect fit, so when an…
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Piecing Together the Puzzle

Have you ever purchased a very challenging jigsaw puzzle just for the sheer joy and feeling of accomplishment you’ll get once you’ve successfully assembled it?  The larger the quantity of pieces the better right? As I stare at those 5,000 pieces dumped onto my counter top and begin sorting and flipping them over, it becomes…
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I must finally admit to myself and the world that I’m tired.  Physically and mentally exhausted. For the last 15 years of my 17-year-old son’s life, autism has dictated the mood, comfort, décor (or lack thereof) and decibel level of our home. Severe, non-verbal autism has robbed my son of the ability to communicate effectively…
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Rites of Passage

I’m going to be completely honest and vulnerable here. I’ve been struggling with my emotions the last few weeks and haven’t really felt much like writing, talking or doing much of anything. I don’t usually let my feelings thoroughly overtake me, but this is a really momentous year for our family – one that seemed…
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Pausing and Living for Today

This unprecedented time of sheltering at home amid fear of contracting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) — or, God forbid, infecting someone we love — has brought out the best and the worst in us all. Stress levels are at an all-time high and learning to work, study, communicate and perform routine daily tasks virtually has…
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Other Publications Featuring Laurie’s Writing

Other Publications Featuring Laurie’s Writing