‘Riley is now 6 years old. He still does not speak. I always thought words were what mattered.’: Mom to son with autism says ‘I was lucky to be in his world, I just didn’t know it yet’

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“Autism, the world that changed my life as a mom forever. The word that makes me cry without any warning. The word that makes my little boy ‘different’. The word that has made me who I am today, a fighter.

My little boy, Riley, was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2 years and 9 months old. He is nonverbal, has a lot of sensory issues, and he finds this big crazy world hard to cope with.

The diagnosis may have turned our lives upside down. It may have been the cause of thousands of tears. It may have made me question why him?

But autism was going to show me how amazing he was, he is. How I wished I could get a moment in his head. It was going to make me the mom I am today, stronger, determined, and happy.

I just didn’t know that yet.

Autism would show me that love needs no words. I always thought that words were what mattered. Waiting for Riley to ‘tell’ me he loves me. Waiting for him to say mommy. Waiting for him to speak. When in reality what I really needed to do is take a step back and see was he showed me love in ways that don’t need words.

Autism would show me that my little boy saw the world in a fascinating way. The smallest detail can bring out the biggest smile. A certain song can mean so much to him. Something which you or I would take for granted, was a huge step for him. I soon realized that I would be lucky to be in his world. We all would.

Autism would teach me to appreciate the small things. Appreciate the hugs, the kisses. Appreciate when he looked in my eyes. It taught me to appreciate that I was his world, and he was mine. Autism taught me to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small they were.

My little boy taught me so much. From such a young age. He doesn’t even know, but he taught me to love harder, to be brave when I felt weak, and to take this world by storm, teaching one person at a time. Because together we could do anything.

Riley is now 6-years old. Yes, he still has his struggles, he still does not speak, he finds situations stressful, and Autism is a Huge part of our lives.

Courtesy Nicole Duggan

But Riley is the happiest, funniest, cheekiest little boy. He loves traffic lights and exit signs. He loves to read books, and to draw pictures. He loves sweets and chocolate. He dances to music, and he cries when he falls.

He is just like any other little boy.

And we would all be lucky to be part of his world.

Autism may be hard, it may have changed our lives completely, it may be one hell of a rollercoaster ride, but my 6 year old little boy has taught me true bravery, how to be strong when you feel like you can’t, and how to face battles with your head held high .

And he could teach you too.

There were times when I wished I could change the world for him, and make it a better place to live in.

But I have realized, what we need to do is teach people. Help them to understand that Autism is not a bad thing, Autism is an amazing thing. A thing that now fascinates me beyond belief. A thing that I still learn about and will continue to learn about. Autism is now our life. A life filled with therapy appointments, sensory toys, regulation, and a whole lot of love.

And that is fine with me!

Happy World Autism Awareness Day Everyone.”

Courtesy Nicole Duggan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicole Duggan, 31, of Cork, Ireland. Follow her on Facebook here and Instagram hereDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube  for our best videos.

Read more stories from Nicole here: 

‘No, no, don’t sit next to him darling, move away.’ This sentence cuts like a knife. It shatters my heart into a million pieces.’: Mom of autistic son wishes no other parent to ‘experience this ignorance’

‘How did you know?’ My little baby went completely silent, no words, no babble, nothing. There were warning signs, we just didn’t know.’: Mom’s journey with autistic son

‘Do you work?’ My answer was no. I thought about that last night and realized, I was wrong.’: Mom of autistic son reflects on 24/7 job of being a special needs mom

‘He cannot speak. He plays differently. He may not look you in the eye. Every day, I wonder, ‘Did someone play with him in the schoolyard?’: Mom says ‘thank you’ to young boy for acknowledging autistic son

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