Belle staring at the sunset

Our Story

We’re Belle’s family. Typical, for the most part. We live a small life in the Midwest. Dad works as a web developer, and mom is a Registered Nurse. We have two pups named Jet, and Jack–neither of them work. We’ve been together for more than a decade, and got married in September 2012. Belle joined the family in June 2013. On the outside we seem as normal a family as any.

Take a step in, though, and you’ll soon discover that Belle isn’t quite what you’d expect from someone her age. You’d probably watch her, and wonder why she’s walking back and forth saying the same incoherent thing over and over. It might make you chuckle that she’s holding a handful of twigs that she collected outside. And you’ll more than likely look to one of us for support when you witness her hit herself in the head for no apparent reason.

But there is a reason. For all of it.

Belle has autism.

She was officially diagnosed at the age of three in November 2016. By that time we were already well-aware that Belle more than likely had autism. She struggled with communication, having regressed in her speech from the few words she was speaking; struggled with specific loud noises, such as laughter and lots of commotion; and struggled with sleep, seemingly not wanting to partake in it at all.

All of this made for some challenging days (and nights), and still does. Raising a child with autism isn’t always easy. Most days are just a regular day (for us) with nothing eventful taking place, but a good day can quickly turn bad. Meltdowns are very real, very stressful, and very exhausting. We’ve cried a lot, and when we were finished, cried some more.

But you wouldn’t know most of this just by looking at us. Through trial and error we’ve learned to navigate Belle’s moods, and sometimes base our entire days on that. Most of the hard stuff happens behind closed doors. In fact, we don’t have any family members who have ever witnessed a Belle meltdown (yet)!

Autism isn’t all that Belle is, though.

How does Belle differ from autism stereotypes?

  1. Belle loves love! Cuddles, tickles, kisses, being held–all of it!
  2. Speaking of love, Belle isn’t a violent person. When she’s having a meltdown she may lash out toward inanimate objects, but she’s not one to attack people.
  3. Belle makes eye contact. When she was younger she would avoid it, but now she practically stares into your soul!
  4. Belle can also read our emotions. Excitement, anger, being upset–she plays off of it all very well.

Belle is beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, extremely loving, and completely carefree. She lives life the way the rest of us wish we could—ignoring what she doesn’t care about, and paying attention to the chocolate. She’s mostly non-verbal, but can repeat just about anything you ask her to. She loves nature, water, and her huge collection of figurines and dolls.

Where are we now?

Belle started preschool when she was three–before her official diagnosis–and it has been amazing! She’s had to work harder than a child her age should have to, but she’s making fantastic progress. She’s made friends, loves her teachers and aides, and can’t get out of the door fast enough each morning to get to school.

We are currently on a waiver list for other services, as well, but we have to wait our turn. We’ve discovered that just about everything with autism is a waiting game.

So, this is our life together. We started this blog to tell our story–the highs, the lows, and everything in between–in hopes that it might help others. Autism is hard work, and we want to provide support where we can. We don’t have all of the answers, and things that we do won’t be right for everyone, but we hope that our website can be a stepping stone.

We’re not so different from other families. We have a child who we adore, and love, and will fight to no ends for. She just so happens to have autism. As we’re sure any parent of a special needs child will tell you, it was never part of the plan. But the absolute best thing that we can do is press forward with as much hope as possible.

We’re Belle’s family. Typical, for the most part.



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