two piece walk stories from me to you

today we participated in the Piece Walk for Autism. 26 people signed up to be on our team. All of us did the walk, and some of us did the 5k, myself included. it was my first. im a proudy-pants.I started doing this five years ago, when mister was 3 and newly diagnosed. Today, was special.


Aiden is my middle. He was diagnosed in 2007 with PDD-NOS and eventually, autism. Back then, Aiden didnt speak very much at all. What he did say was in “aidenese”. He didnt say “mama” until he was 2 years and 4 months old. He had been in the car since Minneapolis and this happened in Kansas. I honest-to-god think that it was out of sheer boredom that he finally said it. he used to have an in-home provider come in and do OT with him while he rolled around on our wooden floors with his belly on a skateboard in only his undies bc he was a sensory seeking machine. over time, we have seen this kid become a fast-talking, sometimes smart-ass, amazingly independent, reading, beginning to write, talking about dreams, having friends kid. his speech is delayed, but when i get frustrated with progress, i remind myself just how much progress we have under our belt.

Today, as we walked up to our group, he held my hand and said, “lets run to the fire hydrant.” check. “will aunt crystal be there?” yes. “look at the tall building” uh-huh it’s so cool! a simple conversation that i never knew for certain i would have. While I was on the last leg of my 5k, my husband said he stood there, watching for me and yelling, “go mama go!” “go mama go!”. When I ran through the line, he ran up and hugged me, then handed me my gatorade he had been helping himself to. He smiled with his dyed upper lip and said, “you did it, Mama!”

today, he was my cheerleader.

TUCKER story told with permission of his awesome mama

I met Tucker in August 2009. I had just taken a job as an ABA instructional assistant and Tucker was the kiddo I was assigned. He had just turned 2 and was still non-verbal, save a word he learned around the same time, “Purple”. It’s what he called his mama. The first two weeks were spent with Tucker kicking me in the shins, really hating my guts, and crying when he saw me. Who did I think I was showing up at his school and pushing boundaries on his entire freakin existence. I was a major jerk. Still, slowly, slowly, said the snail. It didnt take long for the kicking to slowly fade, the tears to stop, and for him to be happy to see me. We started doing a verbal imitation program that resulted in him imitating sounds, words, and he began talking non-stop….i dont think he’s stopped since. He aged out of our program in August 2011. For two years we were thick as thieves, and have since become fantastic family friends.

This kid has grown up with a mama who runs in anything and everything. His second room was a jogging stroller, and now, he runs, too. Today, he ran with us in the 5k. As my friend and I turned around at the halfway point, we came upon Tucker and his parents. He turned around and said, “I found My Randa!” this is me. he calls me this because my name is miranda and when he was beginning to speak his mother said, “lets go see miranda”. he, replied, “no! it’s MY Randa!” So this is my super bad-ass nickname that I refuse for him to grow out of, ever.

Tucker would not leave my side. The kid is a seasoned runner at 4 and I was huffing and puffing my way through my first. He walked by me at one point and said, “i fink we can run dis, Randa. C’MON!” he grabbed my hand and coaxed me to go. So we’d run for a bit and then I’d stop and walk and tell him to run ahead with his parents. He said, “no Randa, Im running wif you! Cmon!” At this point his mom, dad, and our mutual friend are cracking up and his mama said, “who taught this kid to talk?!”. and it was me. I did it. I pushed him for two years and for two years he worked his little self as hard as he could for some Yums [M&Ms], high fives, wiggles, cars, easter eggs with surprises in them, and all sorts of crazy stuff. I EXPECTED him to work hard, and now, he expected me to do the same.

I said, “tuck, lets walk up this hill, then run all the way down to the light. Around the corner is the finish line. you wanna do this together?” He said, “YES! High five, Randa. We are Champ-I-Ones [champions]!!” So we did this thing. As we rounded the corner to the finish line, I started walking and told him to go ahead with his daddy. I let him get in front of me bc a) I didnt want to cross the line sobbing as I had this intense emotional moment and b) because he deserved to cross it first.

And as I crossed over, I saw him hugging his mama and heard my own little guy yelling, “you did it, Mama!”

Today, they pushed me.