Cooper turned 4 on November 1st and 2013 has been quite the doozy for him. He had a surgery in March to repair a hernia. He was diagnosed officially with Autism in August (more on that later in the post) and he has surgery next week to repair a PDA (heart murmur) that still hasn't closed and is enlarging his heart. But, through, it all he has kept his smile and loving spirit!
He continues to receive speech therapy twice a week and occupational therapy once a week. He's also attending a special needs preschool four mornings a week and is doing really great in the program. He loves his teachers and is learning every day!
He uses an IPAD to communicate as he's functionally non-verbal. He's a whiz with his IPAD and I'm just beyond thankful that this technology exists! He also uses sign language but daddy and I are really the only ones that can interpret them as he often morphs signs together.
The Autism diagnosis wasn't a huge shocker for us and we were prepared. We've been researching and observing Cooper closely over the last couple of years and it was apparent that there was more going on than the Apraxia. Just because he can't converse doesn't mean that kids shouldn't exist to him which was the case with Cooper. He's quite social with adults but doesn't relate AT ALL to other kids (because he can't). He's extremely loving and communicative with my hubby and I and other trusted adults but kids that are mildly on the spectrum can be. He does have moments where he's in his own world and has quite the list of "quirks" (some are cute while some are not). We've worked really hard on some problem behaviors such has head banging (which was a huge problem earlier this year so much so that I couldn't trust him to stand next to other kids) with brushing/joint compressions and being very aware of when he's going into sensory overload. He's come a long way and we're looking into getting him into ABA therapy and we're always twerking our home program.
Cooper is the light of our lives and despite all the daily challenges of raising a child with special needs, is an absolute joy to be around every day. He loves trains and Curious George. He loves to "read" books, especially Pete the Cat books, and we have a weekly date at our local Barnes and Noble to read books and play on the train table. He is a ladies man and loves to give hugs. He's such a big kid at therapy (he's been going 3 times a week at least since he was 6 months old!) and walks up to his therapists, takes their hand, waves goodbye to me and he walks off. He's also at that age where he wants privacy in his room and will tell me "no" and wave bye and if that doesn't work, he'll just take me by the hand, lead me out of his room and then close the door. He's too big for his britches some days, haha!
I know all Coopers have the nickname "Super Cooper" but my Cooper truly is just miraculous. From surviving a terrifying pregnancy, being born at 31 weeks and all of the challenges that he's endured since coming home while still maintaining his resilient and loving spirit despite it all is something to brag so I do, all the time ;) He's simply fantastic!