Tag Archives: speaking and autism



“Horse! Horse! Wook , Mommy, Horse!” Ryan yells from the back seat. His face pushed up close to the window…hands spread wide.  We pass a few stalls of horses on the long drive.  I’m thrilled he’s excited because it’s not often he gets this passionate about something.  But sometimes even with the picture schedule; I don’t think he really gets what I tell (and show) him we will be doing.  I made a new piece for his schedule with picture of him on a horse and next to it the words: “ride a horse”.   Per Dr. Hunter’s group, I now make his schedule with pictures and words, so when he gets better at reading we can take off the pictures.  I love the idea of him actually reading a schedule.  I am a calendar freak, always have been, so I appreciate making his daily schedule.  I have to do it for myself.  And I know how much it keeps him organized and knowing what to expect.

“Yes, bud, I know.  You are going to ride a horse today.” I say for the fourth of fifth time today, as I pull in to the dirt parking lot.  I think we are still a way from just words on his schedule or words to remind him.  No mater, he’s happy to be here right now and I am too.

This isn’t just horse lessons, its ‘therapeutic riding’.  I thought we should try it as he loves horses and maybe we can find something he can be involved in.  Therapeutic riding isn’t a new concept, and I had looked into when he was first diagnosed, but most of the places weren’t close by.  When I was looking to have a horse riding birthday party a few months ago for Ryan, the Riding  House Therapy Group came up in my internet search.  They didn’t do parties, but I liked that they were nearby.  When we saw how much he enjoyed his birthday, I decided to give it a try.   I liked that they served all disabilities as well as autism.

He opens his door and starts to jump out before I can turn the engine off.

“Hold on Ry, you have to wait for me.” I practically scream.  I quickly pull the keys out and swing wide my door to block him.  I grab his arm and then reach in for my purse as he is struggling to get away from me.  He is straining his neck around the door to see the riding ring with a horse, rider and three assistants.  Wow three people to one rider.  That seemed like a lot, but I can see the rider has a physical handicap.  I’m pretty sure, it’s for safety.

I grab his hand and walk down the gravel way to the small area with picnic tables and cabinets.  We are spotted by a lady in a straw hat.  She smiles broadly at us.

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This post is a little longer than most, but it is hard to cut the words out and tell the story.  This was such an amazing day–yet I don’t feel like I conveyed how emotional it truly was. When I read i,t I cry, but I was there…any thoughts on how to word it better?


Every mother waits for her baby to say ‘Mama’.   I had those first words of joy with my first-born, noted it in her baby book and moved on. With Ryan it was different, yet again.  I started worrying when he was a baby that I wouldn’t enjoy his milestones like I did hers.  I worried they would be overlooked in my hectic, two-child, working life.  I worried about seemingly silly things like not taking enough pictures of him.

As a young adult I wanted to see baby pictures of myself.  My mom got down the dusty albums and we started thumbing through them.  The first album was all professional 8×10 ‘Olan Mills’ type of pictures with my older sister at each month or holiday in her life.  Page after page of her in glossy form, from infant to toddler.  We open the second album; I start to thumb through my life expecting the same milestones as my sisters.  I turn two pages and then it stops.  There are exactly five pictures of me.  That’s it.  Five. Then three with me and my sister over various years.  The rest of the album is empty.  I look at my mother in a panic and ask where are the rest? And why were there so many of Tonya? Afraid perhaps they fell out or were misplaced.  She looks at me casually and says in a matter of fact way,

“Tonya was the first born. I had more time and money to get her pictures taken. By the time you came along, your dad and I were ready to split up, I worked three jobs and getting your picture taken just wasn’t a priority.”

It sounded logical, but the reality still hurt my feelings.  Not a priority. I made a vow that Ryan’s life moments would not be placed second just because of his birth timeline.  However, it slowly started to happen.  I took him less and less to get photographed, and eventually the pictures started to include both of them. Baby books? Well those got sidelined too.  Then he was diagnosed and simultaneously those kinds of things weren’t important. Not a priority. Irony you are a bitch, but chronicling his life changed to bringing him back.

I hear Brie bringing Ryan downstairs as his session is drawing to a close.  It has been over five months of therapy.  I did not hear what they were working on upstairs because I had turned down the baby monitor.  (We gave up on the cheap-green-screen-video monitor and went with an old fashioned audio monitor to listen to the sessions.) I usually have it on while I am in the kitchen working, but I had some phone calls to make.  So, I’m curious why she’s bringing him down.   Brie is coaxing him into the kitchen where I am standing.  She has a huge smile on her face and leans down close to him points at me and says,

“Ryan, who’s that?”

He looks shyly at me while holding her hand and a small voice I have never heard says “Mom-mom”.

I feel the room tilt a little as my heart stops beating for a second.  And I suck in a huge breath.

“Oh my god!” I yell and lunge forward for him, scaring him a little, but it’s like an electrical current has taken off in my body.  I grab him and swing him around starting to cry shamelessly while he giggles.  He said Mom-mom.  He said mom-mom!  I honestly feel I can fly at that moment.  Hearing him say my name truly sounds and feels like music playing straight to my heart.

As Christmas is a few weeks away, Jenna had recently made her wish list to Santa.  I secretly asked him to let Ryan say ‘Mama’.  That was all I wanted for Christmas.   I realize that God has not only given me my Christmas wish, in some small way he has also given me a way to appreciate Ryan’s milestones.  To revel in them in a way I would not have had he been “typical”.    I of course would have preferred to not have to go through all this…but I am thankful for the gifts.  I still haven’t worked on his baby books, but there are other priorities now.

I turn to Brie, who normally so poised looks a little teary eyed as well, and say softly.

“Thank you.”


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