On World Autism Day, I try to give an update on Everett. I am so glad to tell you that he is doing fantastic.

For the first time since he was 3 years old, we are not in any therapies. This has been a big transition for us, especially me. I never wanted to stop because of what a huge resource it has been for our family. But he was ready and it was time. For the past year, he was going to grief counseling. He had some major breakthroughs of understanding death and the process of it which has been so helpful. He talks about his dad and other family members that we’ve lost daily, and it is with more understanding and much less frustration. He still has immense sadness, and he handles it appropriately.

He started high school in the fall and absolutely loves it. Most days on the way to school, he tells me that “I’m a high school man”. And then often includes Everett telling me that Jack is a high school man too. I’m grateful for teachers, administrators, and students who support and care for our special boys. One of the classes he is taking is Art. He really enjoys it and this fall he came home with a painting of a truck that I thought was fantastic. A couple of weeks later he came home with the painting of a train that was also really good.

I love this painting of a red truck

Everett loves to reenact and make up stories with characters from whatever books and shows (mostly Thomas the Train) he is currently watching. He calls many of our family members by specific names from the books and shows. Everett has a memorized phrase that he says to each person he interacts with regularly. It’s his way of having a conversation where he knows they know how to respond without having to keep spontaneous back and forth interactions going which is hard for him. I had the idea that he could paint everyone in the family a picture of what he associates them with and give it as a Christmas gift. Everett was excited about this process, so I bought the supplies and a few days before Christmas he got to work. I tried to help by organizing it and helping the layers dry before he started on new colors. My help went over like a lead balloon, and let’s just say like lots of good art in the world there might be some rage sprinkled in to the inspiration. He did quite a few and we ran out of canvases and hope to do more for next year.

Here are the ones he gave out at Christmas with a little description.

This is Stanley that Everett painted at school. Everett calls Nanny (Joyce, one of his grandmothers), Stanley. When he talks to Nanny on the phone, he says “Hey Nanny, how’s Stanley?”
This is Hiro and it went to Papaw (Bill, one of his grandfathers). And part of Everett and I’s artistic disagreement was that black trains are not as easy to paint as the other colors. Everett and Papaw banter back and forth about Hiro the Japanese Engine.
This is Salty and it went to Nena (Dianne, one of his grandmothers). Everett is always asking Nena “How’s Salty doing?”
This is Hercules and this went to Bo (one of Everett’s uncles). Hercules is a tug boat with glasses and he asks me every week “Is Hercules (Bo) is going to be at the funeral when I get off the bus?”
This is the Acela Amtrak passenger train and it went to Max (one of Everett’s uncles). We rode the this train when we visited Max in Washington D.C. and talks about it all the time.
This is the Little Red Hen and it went to Mawmaw (Wanda, one of Everett’s grandmothers). Everett loves the book “The Little Red Hen” and his favorite version is the one that Paul Galdone illustrates. He has it memorized and can tell you the entire story without any prompting. He says Mawmaw is like the Little Red Hen. And Everett asks her “Mawmaw, How’s the Little Red Hen? Is she busy?”
This is Old Puffer Pete from Chuggington. This went to Terina (one of Everett’s aunts). For this he asks Terina “Is Old Puffer Pete Sick?” And she responds with a dramatic fake sneeze and he loves it. I love this one because he signed it upside down.

I wish I had done a better job of taking photos of Everett giving these out at Christmas. It was really special and I can’t wait to spread more love and joy that way. The best part was how proud Everett was of his paintings. While he was working on them, he was talking out loud about how each person would react when they opened their gift.

One of the biggest myths about Autism is that there is a lack of connection and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everett is deeply loving and connected with his family, friends, and teachers. He stretches me to be my best everyday, and I love getting to be his Mom. Happy World Autism!

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