For an expectant mother, seeing your unborn child for the first time during an ultrasound exam is a special moment. But mothers with visual impairments don’t usually get to experience this. Until now.

In the video below, watch as Tatiana, a blind soon-to-be mother from Brazil, gets to “see” her unborn child for the first time thanks to a 3D-printed model of the sonogram of her son. Huggies Brazil worked together with advertising agency Mood and 3D printing firm The Goodfellas to complete the project and give Tatiana this special moment, according to Ad Week.

Watch the video below to see the moment Tatiana “meets” her unborn son:

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“Ma-ee whats hearts mean?”

“Why don’t you tell me?”

“Ma-ee hearts, hearts, its mean love Ma-ee.”

So says the amazing wonderboy. Hearts mean love. Whenever he says this, and it is quite often because there are hearts everywhere, he gets this open, innocent smile that spreads into his eyes. He has the most incredible smile.  He’s latched onto this symbol and can spot them a mile off. In a room full of paraphernalia and dust collectors, he bee-lines to the hearts and says, “Look Ma-ee look, hearts, its mean love.”

He came to my home when he was 6 years old. Stuttering, crossing fingers, twirling and just plain scared. We had transitioned a couple of months where I visited him at his foster mom’s house and he had come down to visit us. But I was such an unknown to him.

Years before I had decided that I wanted to adopt again. I had adopted my daughter when she was almost 6 and was now a beautiful, well-adjusted 18-year-old. I thought we were ready. I got my foster license specifically to adopt an older child and then waited and waited. No referrals. I contacted people across the state and said I was here, wanting to provide permanency. I felt like I was in a room with hundreds of other foster and potential foster parents jumping up and down in the back, waving my arms and yelling across the din, “I want to adopt! I want to give a child security,” but I waited.

As I was sending my homestudy across the state and outside the state to any contact that was mentioned, I talked to Erica, the recruiter for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a remarkable program started by the Dave Thomas Foundation. Erica and I touched bases a couple of times within a few months and then one day she sent me an email that said, “There’s this little boy, but I have to be honest, he has autism.” Autism? What did I know about autism? Absolutely nothing. So I read and read and cried and laughed. I asked Erica for more information and she sent a picture of a beautiful little boy, dark hair, dark, soul-filled eyes. And a hint of a smile.

I received some records on him. Could I really do this? I read a little about his past life and inside, then and there, I knew I could give him security and advocacy. Love was a given. It is easy for me to love a child, but security is what he and every child is entitled to that they all aren’t getting. I read his records. Wow, they scared me. I still didn’t have a grasp on what autism meant, and then the paperwork mentioned developmental and cognitive delays. I envisioned essentially a child who would have no concept of what was going on in the world. But, I remembered that hint on his face. Something unique was brewing under that smile and that flash in his eyes that you could see sparkling in the picture. I went to meet him.

He brought me his favorite Dr. Seuss book and I read to him and made him laugh. He twirled and talked into a fan and laughed at his voice and turned and looked at me, right in the eyes to see if I was laughing also. What? I was so confused. This wasn’t the autism I read about. The autism I read about was the lack of connection. (I think I was reading the wrong book…) This was a little boy who was funny and maybe not so articulate at times but loved to laugh.

He moved in with me. Months later, we found his true diagnosis through genetic testing and I understood even more about his “flavor” of autism. He has a duplication of his fifteenth chromosome, what’s commonly called Dup15q syndrome. I realized this is a part of him and always will be. It is in his chromosome makeup, just like dark brown eyes and brown hair. Soon after getting his results, I adopted him. It has been three years since we finalized the adoption. He struggles at times because there are parts of life he doesn’t understand, but there are also parts of life that he understands in a very unique way. I love hearing those bits of wisdom. He is quirky, funny, loud, an awesome mimicker of noises, energetic, a brother… he is my love and he is my son!

In the early morning, he soars out of bed and pounds down the hall. Then he throws himself into my arms. I hold him for his special early morning ritual. I stoke his back and tightly hug him, not uttering a word. Seconds go by with his arm wrapped around my neck. His breathing is slow. I can feel his heart beat and then he says, “Ma-ee, there are hearts coming out of my head.” And I tell him I love him too.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us the moment, if you’ve had it, where you knew everything was going to be okay. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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Some people say that perception is reality. I don’t know. It’s just too black and white for me.  Maybe if we add one word, I can get on board with it.

Perception is sometimes reality.

There. The first quote seems to imply that perception is ALWAYS reality. I think the best way for me to explain my thinking on this is to share a few stories about my son, Matthew.

Perception: He’s in his own world and not listening to what others are saying, especially adults.
Reality: A few weeks ago (maybe over a month now… I can’t believe I could keep this story under wraps that long), we were sitting in church and our pastor was delivering the sermon. Our pastor mentioned the word Mt. Calvary. Matthew looked up at me and put his arms out and moved his body to signify “flying.” I know what you’re thinking… there were no airplanes at Mt. Calvary, but follow me a little bit longer. It took me a minute to make the connection, but when I put it together I was floored.

We recently figured out that when he made that flying gesture, it meant that he wanted to hear The Army Song (a song that we sing in Children’s Choir). That took some detective work to figure out, believe me. But when we sing the song, we put out our arms like we are flying for the line that says, “I may never fly over the enemy.” I quickly went through the words in the song in my head until I hit, “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the calvary…”  So even though the word calvary was used two different ways…he heard it…he was listening! The potential for what this could mean for him is HUGE!

Perception: He’s not aware of what’s going on around him.
Reality: One day at school he was heading up to the carpet and he passed a classmate who was having trouble finding her book. He paused, pulled her book out far enough for her to see and kept on walking up to the carpet to join his peers.

Perception: He probably has trouble with long-term memory.
Reality: If he has been to your house, he will remember exactly where you keep your vacuum. When we are driving and are one the same road as his doctor’s or dentist’s office, he will do his invented sign for those places. When we go to my sister’s cabin (which we only visit one to two times a year), he will remember specific places that objects are kept. And he will know if they are missing! We found that out the hard way last summer when he kept signing “wagon” because he remembered that they had had a riding toy that you can push.

Perception: He can’t problem-solve.
Reality: At school they started using a “standing desk” (a desk that is tall enough to stand at). They took pictures on his iPad and commented that he loves it. That week at dinner, he pushed away his chair and pulled up his stool and made a “standing table.”

Now I don’t condone this next behavior, but it does show his problem-solving abilities. He made garbage by unrolling toilet paper and throwing it away because he loves to empty wastebaskets (one time he threw away multiple pairs of underwear to make garbage.) When we are at restaurants or new places, he will sign “bathroom.” He often barely has to go, but he knows I will not say “no” to the bathroom sign and it gives him a chance to explore and see more.

Your perceptions will be based on what you initially see: Matthew’s noises, his jumping, his flapping, his smelling, his silly giggling, etc. Your perceptions will also be based on your experiences with other people with autism or other disabilities. If you’re in the education or medical field, your perceptions might even be influenced by a clinical definition of autism and its characteristics. And some of your perceptions might be true… SOME of the time.

At least that’s my perception. And you know what they say about perception…

perception versus reality

This post originally appeared on Autismic.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one secret about your child’s disability and/or disease that no one talks about? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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When we began our autism journey five years ago, I had no idea the dramatic impact my son’s teachers and therapists would have on our lives. All I knew back then was that I was desperate for the meltdowns to stop and to somehow find a way to reach my precious boy. When he was 2 years old and newly diagnosed, he spent most of his day in aggressive tantrums and screaming. I had no idea how to calm him or communicate with him. In the middle of the night, with tears streaming down my face, I would wonder to myself “Does he even know I love him?” I felt like a complete failure as a mother.

Autism has often been described as a “child living in his own isolated world.” And finding ways to break thorough into his world would prove to be challenging, to say the least.

Since my son’s diagnosis, I’ve been introduced to the most amazing people. Teachers and therapists who have poured their hearts and souls into my precious boy. They are the most compassionate, patient, innovative and downright brilliant people who, had it not been for autism, I most likely would have never met. They refuse to give up on my son. They tirelessly keep going and always manage to do it with a smile on their faces. They celebrate him, not just tolerate him. And that has made all the difference.

This week is teacher appreciation week, and what do you say to the people who have given you more than you could possibly put into words? The phrase “thank you” just seems too small.

Michelangelo wrote: “I saw the angel in the stone and I carved until I set him free.”

So to all the “Michelangelos” who have touched our lives over the past five years, thank you for setting my angel free.


Do you have a story about your experience with disability or disease? Maybe a moment that made a big impact on you? Please send it to [email protected] and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. Thanks!

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The following blog was written by a mother in the perspective of her child. 

I was talked about today. Well, actually, they whispered.

We went to the park to tire out my noisy sister. Mom and I had been on the swings together and she had helped me have fun on the big slide. After we had some fun she put me back in my wheelchair-pram — it was time for her to have some fun with my sister.

My pram was at the edge of the park, and Mom and my noisy sister were on the swings.

Some ladies were there. They were having fun at the park, too. They talked about me, asking each other, “Do you know Dexter?” And then, standing between Mom and I, they started whispering.

We don’t know what they said.

Maybe, they were talking about how much fun I had been having and how well I was doing at holding my head up. Maybe they were talking about my cool bike and the trips to the park I make on it. Maybe they were talking about my efforts at walking.

We know they talked about my preschool because we heard that word.

Maybe, they were talking about how cool I looked, like a Ninja Turtle, or they might have been talking about my cool preschool paintings.

We’re not sure what they were talking about because they started whispering. But we were right there.

They didn’t say hello.

They didn’t smile.

They didn’t even look at Mom.

We get looked at, pointed at and talked about all the time.

Every day.

We’re getting used to it… a little bit. But the whispering? The whispering hurt.

We left the park not much after they started their whispering. And, when we left, Mom had a little tear in her eye.

I was recognized by some other people today. It was earlier in the day. The lady and the man knew me from preschool. They have a child who goes to the same school.

My preschool friend’s mom recognized us. She told her husband I was there.

Mom didn’t know them and I don’t have the words to tell her. But, she recognized the other mom as soon as she smiled. The man turned around and gave Mom a big smile too, then he called me a preschool friend and smiled again.

That made Mom smile.

Thank you for saying, “Hi.”

A hello and a smile is always nicer than a whisper. Whispers hurt.

A version of this post originally appeared on Love Dexter.

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 “I asked the Zebra,
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on and on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes…again.”

                                                               — Shel Silverstein

My daughter Addie was born early. Three weeks early. I started having contractions in the parking lot of an Olive Garden while Frank Sinatra was singing on the radio, “Let’s take it nice and easy…” It was almost Halloween, and that night in the maternity department all that was on TV were old scary movies. Addie was delivered into this world in the morning “sunny side-up,” as they described it to me. It was not a dramatic delivery. The biggest issue initially was correctly the nurse who thought I said Addie’s middle name was “Tracy” not “Faith.” To which she responded “Oh, that’s so much better…” (Sorry to any Tracys out there.)

Addie was a little bit of a baby — tiny all around with little waves at the bottom of her hair. She struggled a bit with her blood sugar being low and then with feeding. She had some problems swallowing and latching on. She cried a lot. We found that the only way she didn’t cry was if she slept in something moving. She was trying to tell us something. We just didn’t know what it was yet. She was hospitalized two times within her first month of life, then again two months later. She had many specialists, many appointments and many hospital stays. After her third set of ear tubes, an adenoidectomy, a GI biopsy and a lung biopsy, it was determined that she had ciliary dyskinesia, a rare lung disorder treated a lot like cystic fibrosis. It means the cilia in her body aren’t all intact and can’t rid the body of things that would cause lung infections or ear infections. We also found out she had colitis. She was allergic to milk and soy (she’s 4 now and now not allergic to either thankfully). But Addie still cried. She had a lot of trouble feeding and eating and was delayed. Mysteries still lurked. 

I remember the phone call well. It was a Thursday morning at work. Her neurologist wanted to review her MRI. I didn’t have time to Google. I grabbed a piece of paper on my desk and started writing everything I possibly could. The paper had these words written sporadically: “Brain Malformation,” “Vascular accident?” “Trauma?” “May never know – result is the same,” “Static but unknown future,” “Mild,” “Unilateral,” “many small folds”, “unique pattern,” “may blossom with continued therapy,” “will know more as she grows,” “high risk of seizures,” “mild CP?” I needed the following: information and what to do specifically. I specifically saw the words “may blossom” and felt those two words were the hope given to us to have faith in the doctors and faith that the future would be bright.  


I remember being in my bedroom. It was nighttime, and Addie was crying. For some reason, this night, the swing wasn’t calming her. The swing was supposed to be the lifeline. It sat next to my side of the bed. If I heard it start to slow, I knew to get up and change the batteries as soon as humanly possible.

This one night, the swing itself was working fine mechanically, but the swing’s magic was not working. So I did the next best thing, and I held her and paced. We walked back and forth across my room. At one point I started crying with her. I don’t know why. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I know I was overtired. But it was something else. I couldn’t put my finger on it. We just cried together; we cried hard. I let myself cry with her. I don’t even know if she knew I was crying. But we had this long moment together of pacing and crying. I wanted so badly to help her. I wanted so badly to “fix” what was wrong. I didn’t know “what was “wrong” with Addie yet, but looking back I truly believe it was in that moment that I knew something was seriously going on, and I let myself cry. And Addie let me pace, hold her and cry. We let ourselves have that moment together. This was nothing monumental, but it was poignant to me. When she — and I — finally calmed, I held her tight and close to me. She was sweating, her heart was racing and I whispered lovingly into her ear, “It’s OK, Addie. Mommy knows there is something wrong. You don’t have to fight it; I will fight for you from this moment on. I promise. I love you as you are.” And just like that – poof! Like when you make a wish on a coin and throw it into a wishing well, I made this commitment to my daughter in her ear, and I let it go. And I never looked back. 

I later found out the actual diagnosis Addie was given was called “Polymicrogyria” or PMG. This means “many small folds.” I find it fitting; my Addie-bug is indeed full of many small mysterious folds — this is her personality. This makes sense.

Addie is now 4 and Audrey is 6. Addie is doing great. She has a service dog named Data and is in a Pre-K classroom in a public school system. Her dog goes with her to school. She has occupational, physical and speech therapy. She loves her big sister to pieces. She was diagnosed on the autism spectrum along with the other above diagnoses, but she’s excelling. I’m thankful for the day I let it go. I’m thankful for the day I accepted it all and moved with her and loved her for her — for all her unique stripes. To this day she hasn’t stopped moving, and I haven’t stopped moving with her.


The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Share with us the moment, if you’ve had it, where you knew everything was going to be OK. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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