Photo: Carolin D. Palmer

Not long ago I got a gift from my daughter, Jordan. She loves to make things and give them to me as gifts. On one particular day she gave me a tiny piece of paper with the word mom on it. Jordan is a little over six years old and she has autism.

Like many autistic people, Jordan struggles with verbalization. I accept that about her, and I have come to appreciate any type of communication she shows me. I especially appreciate any time she offers words to me in any form. School has been an amazing step forward in Jordan’s ability to express herself through language, and it often comes in the form of simple notes.

This day was much like any other day when she gave me a tiny paper with the word “mom” on it. I understand that to an outsider reading it, all you see is the word “mom”. I see “I love you mom.” I always hug her and tell her that her gifts are beautiful and I put them by my work space for a few days. Later that day Jordan got angry with me and tore my note almost in half. This is where the note she gave to me tells more than any amount of words ever could. You see, Jordan also has impulse control disorder and she responds without weighing in the consequences of her actions.

When she got angry she took the piece of paper that she so lovingly wrote a note to me on, and started to rip it up, but she stopped halfway through. Jordan showed self-control and caused minimal damage. She then found the roll of tape and fixed the note. She placed it back on my desk and hugged me. Jordan’s destructive outburst was not a reason to punish her; it is a reason to celebrate her.

Jordan found the inner strength to stop herself and she tried to make amends for her behavior. Jordan showed me that she is learning all the fundamental skills and emotions needed to flourish in society. She showed me that as a parent I am on the right path. This one simple note tells me all I need to know.

I love you too Jordan,

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