Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – What Our Hearts Knew From the Beginning

In Their Own Words – What Our Hearts Knew From the Beginning

This “In Their Own Words” essay was written by Jessica Fournerat, who has a five-year-old son with PDD-NOS.

This is hard for me to admit, but as I meet more and more parents in similar shoes, I feel more comfortable opening up about my feelings about having a child on the spectrum.

All my life I have been a helper and have felt a calling to reach out to others, a calling that I never seemed to find the right way to fulfill. All the while I swore I would never have children.

Flash forward several years and I was pregnant in a new city with a new husband. I found myself in a quiet moment talking to my God.

“Ok, so God here’s the deal. I know I’m an older mom and that my baby may have challenges. That’s okay, I can love any child, but I am not sure I am up for the challenge of a child with autism. I don’t know how to relate to someone who is shut off from the world.”

You see, like many people who had no experience with autism, I was under one huge misconception. Those children with autism were emotionally cold and could not feel love for or from their parents.

Well, God answered my prayer and gave me the most amazing child I could have asked for. Jaxson was a smart, funny, stubborn, super active child with an amazing sense of empathy. Soon after learning to walk he blessed us with what we called “Run and Hugs.” He would run from the other side of the room, crash into us and hug us so tight.  Sometimes he would come up behind me and just squeeze as tight as possible and smile. He would cry when he saw sad children on TV shows far before children are supposed to develop empathy. As I learned more about autism, I learned that some of this was sensory seeking, as well as auditory processing issues. But I don’t care what label you put on it. This boy could LOVE.

Jaxson could not communicate verbally until he was three and a half. But he could get his point across. He once used a combination of sign language, gestures and PECS to communicate quite clearly that he wanted our cat Harley to eat a banana. There was no doubt that was what he wanted and when I held the banana up to Harley’s mouth he exploded in laughter and gave me the biggest hug. It was like he felt so wonderful that I understood him.

Not long after, we obtained an augmentative communication device for Jaxson and he took right to it. He was speaking on it the same day that we went to try it out.  This device opened the door for him and in the blink of an eye he was using his words verbally.  He started with Numbers and moved to the alphabet and soon it was words. What was great was that with the sentence structure of the Dynavox when he started talking it was sometimes in full sentences – “I want more juice, please.”

But the most amazing moment, I think, was walking in on him practicing the word “Mama.” He was saying it in a guttural tone and it seemed like it was important that he get it right first. Within days of that moment, he began to say “Mama” regularly and my heart just exploded.

All the experts we have dealt with have been amazed by Jaxson’s success.  They did not see what I saw from the very beginning – a young fireball with his hands reaching out to grab his future and direct it where he wanted to go. I always knew that even when he could not speak our words, he most certainly could understand them. I am so happy that the world can now start to see what our hearts knew from the beginning, that these children are so much more than any label and that they have countless gifts to give the world.

Jaxson has brightened my world. While the challenges do often arise, I find that it is his spirit, love and perseverance that keep us moving forward. I have found my way to reach out. I need only reach out within my own home to find my chance to help and be helped by a child so extraordinary.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

  1. trisha
    July 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I asked God that I not have “one of the regular kids.” Wasn’t sure what I meant at the time, but I get it now.

  2. July 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    This is a beutiful story and somewhat similar to my life when I started out with my oldest son.Thank you so much for sharing..God bless you and your family

  3. Zanna Keyes
    July 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    This so perfectly states MY feelings and attitude about my 3 1/2 year old son (who only recently started speaking in sentences) It was one of my great fears that I would have a child with autism. But he is not cold, he used to make sad faces in empathy with other kids & adults as a baby. These children are a gift to the world.

  4. Sandra Kaye
    July 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    so very beautiful! thank you for sharing! loved it!!!!

  5. wtgm3
    July 4, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks so much for your article. I have a son with Asperger’s, and I often feel so inadequate to deal with him. I had him in my early 40’s, 13 years after my second son. In learning about him, I feel like I have also learned about challenges my other sons have that I did not notice before. With the knowledge I am gathering, like from your writing here; help I am getting, and trust in God, I am learning more and more how to be better at understanding my son.

  6. Angie
    July 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I love this website / blog it is not only a fellowship opportunity, it is inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Samantha
    July 4, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    It’s like I could have written that myself. I didn’t want children until I was in my late 30’s. I had an amnio because I wasn’t sure I could deal with a special needs child. My son who is now 3 1/2 was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 18 months. Sure it’s tough, but he’s a loving sweetheart, the light of my life, and my reason for being. God bless you for sharing your story with us.

  8. kelly ivanoff
    July 4, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    My son in now 26, getting ready to turn 27, i now have a whole new slew of problems but deal with them as they come. You all are starting you journeys, hang on for the ride!

    wouldn’t trade my son for the world, he has taught me so much, and yes he loves from the deepest part of his heart.

    He also spoke complete sentences at three, his first word ever was ligh, he learned from his uncle.

    These children are unique, inspiring, frustrating, confusing, and above all worthy of the uptmost love!

    Good luck to you all on your journey.

  9. kelly ivanoff
    July 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Please excuse my spelling errors, blind without glasses, first word light, not ligh!

  10. Kim Haught
    July 5, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I can relate to your experiences with your son. I too have an autistic son (Matty) who is very social and loving, I am fortunate. I have a hard time with others getting him as he can be a challenge but I am in it for the long haul. Isn’t that what being a parent is about. Thank you for speaking from your heart. I know my son is my heart and has made me a better person.

  11. Denise Kauyedauty
    July 5, 2010 at 5:29 am

    What an inspiring story! I have my 4 older so called ‘normal’ kids, and everytime they acheive something it’s awsome! But when my 9 year old Kyle, learns a new word, or learns something new, it’s like he has said his first word, or taken his first steps again! And the hugs and kisses, and smiles and laughter are just overwhelming everytime-remembering there was a long time when he had stopped responding to anything. He has that effect on our whole family! Best wishes-it only gets better!

  12. cheyenne
    July 5, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I too have twins on the spectrum. Each day is difficult for me to speak about as well, especially to other police officers in my field. What makes it easier is websites like this and meeting others who are in the same situation. My precious little autistic children….they are so very loved. I watch them each day and the love I feel for them even when they are having melt downs, tantrums, even when others stare or people do not understand, I understand. I love them more for all that they have been through and all that is to come. Hope I will be there to help them grow.

  13. July 5, 2010 at 11:23 am

    My favorite part was the part where he could walk, feel empathy and communicate before he could talk.

  14. July 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Today is the first time I have read this blog and it is very inspiring. My sweet son Paul will be 20 years old in August and I remember his early years as if they were yesterday. So much has changed in the field of autism since he was diagnosed in 1992 but one thing is still the same- the truth that within each one of our special children there is a gift for the world. Blessings to all of you moms!

  15. Patti
    July 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Wonderful story. I’m just beginning this journey with my 4yr. old (PDD) & it’s overwhelming. Reading information on this website has been helpful, just wish an expereinced person was @ the steering wheel, & was just the passenger, I don’t know much about this & as I wrote before it’s overwhelming. It’s very hard to talk to about & friends just think he’s got his uniqueness.

  1. July 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm

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