This Groundbreaking Moment Only Happened Because of My Nana

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and I’m not too ashamed to admit, we’ve had a lot more downs than ups. It doesn’t help that I hate asking for help. It makes me uncomfortable. Especially with money.

With my Nana, I never had to ask. She always offered. I tried to turn her down, but she never let me. She helped us out. So we tried to help her out when we could to try to make up for it — fixing a lawn mower here, helping with her truck there. Someday I hope to pay her back for all she’d done for us.

One of the biggest things she ever did was get the kids a Kindle.

“You know I saw one of those Kindles on TV! Do you think one of those would help the boys?” she asked me.

“I don’t know, Nana, they wouldn’t know how to work one if you did. And I don’t want you to spend the extra money if they don’t end up liking it.”

“Well, if they don’t like it, you guys could use it!”

“Yeah… but…”

“We’ll call it an early Christmas present.”

She always did that — claimed she wouldn’t get us things for Christmas or a birthday since she was getting us something else right now. But then she did anyway.

I had reservations because I didn’t want to be that parent. The one who gets their kids things they didn’t really need, the one who raises zombies on their devices all day. The one who has a 6-year-old with a cell phone. I wanted my kids to be outside, not watching TV and playing video games.

Only, my kids didn’t know how to play outside. Our version of playing outside was taking walks. Once the walk was over, it was time to go inside. There was no, “We took our walk, now let’s play in the mud or with trucks.”

The boys loved their movies. I think it has something to do with the fact that movies are predictable. The kids could watch the same movie over and over and over, and they were happy with that because they knew what was going to happen. For someone who can’t understand what anyone is saying and rarely knows what’s going, something predictable for is comforting and calming.

They ended up loving the Kindle. It was a huge blessing. Eventually Nana got us another one so both boys could have their own (they fought like crazy over the first one).

Then I got an iPad mini for myself when we finally had the money to do things like that… which, of course, Tyler fell in love with, so eventually we got a shock-proof case, and it ended up being the kids’ tablet.

After all the devices and all the tablets we’ve tried out there, our favorite is the iPad. Now we’re using the First Nouns app with both of them on the iPad. Tyler can look at a word and recognize that it means the correct corresponding picture. Justin, for the first time ever, is using the app to match pictures. He never played with the games/apps on any of the devices.


For a long, long, long time, I thought that my kids might not ever talk — that I might not ever hear their voices. But after a year of Tyler using the iPad to watch his favorite (educational) TV shows more often, he can say and is now recognizing more words than I can even count.

He’s still nonverbal, but I’d consider him more “preverbal” now.

Neither of them can tell me what they want, they still can’t understand me if I ask them a question, when they’re in pain they can’t tell me why or what hurts, and I still have never heard them say, “I love you”.

But because of these devices and these apps, I have hope for my kids. They’ll be able to live to their full potential.

And all of that has happened because of my Nana.

This post originally appeared on The Driver and The Wife.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

To the Dad Who Thought a Diagnosis Meant He’d Never Get to Share His Love for Michigan Football

If I could go back to that day in 2002 when we received a diagnosis of autism for my son, I would have a lot to tell myself. Here it goes: You’re on the first step of a path. So is your child. Your spouse and the people closest to you are also on one. But [...]

These Wonderful Faces Are Changing the Way We Define Beauty

Katie Driscoll is a mom on a mission to get companies to include models with disabilities in advertisements. Driscoll, a photographer and mother of six, including a daughter with Down syndrome, founded the organization Changing The Face Of Beauty with fellow special needs parent, Steve English, to put the pressure on advertisers. The campaign has had a lot of [...]

Why I Let Myself Cry on My Daughter’s First Day of Preschool

My little girl started daycare today. Breathe, Momma, breathe. While it’s hard for anyone to leave their babe in the hands of others for all the obvious reasons, for me, leaving my daughter, Pip, is so much more. I mean, besides going away for the first time last week with my husband, her and I [...]

When My Son Showed Up Early

I still remember the day everything in my life changed. I’d just been given the news my one and only mama had died. I was eight months pregnant at the time with my second child. I hugged my son so tight and told him about his Grandma Betty going to be with his Geedo (our [...]