Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

January 9, 2013

Simon | Things You Have Taught Us

Today I’m sharing a little project Katie initiated. We invited a few important people in Simon’s life to share what they’ve learned from him.

Documenting the stuff that matters. This is it.

From Mom:

  • Simon you have taught me to celebrate and find wonder and awe in the smallest things.
  • Simon, your presence in my life has taught me so much about what it means to be a human: compassion, strength, resilience, kindness, humor.
  • Simon you have taught me to keep moving forward.
  • Simon you’ve taught me to believe in magic.
  • Simon you’ve taught me to embrace imperfection and to go with the flow.
  • Simon, I am such a better person because you are in my life.

From Dad:

  • That I can appreciate routine.
  • What is truly important in life.
  • What truly unconditional love is.
  • To see how harmful judgment can be.
  • Previously I did not know that I could experience so much wonderment over anything.
  • The value of routines and planning.
  • Just because a kid learns differently than the standard system accommodates, doesn’t mean they can’t learn.
  • So often he’s capable of more than I had previously realized.
  • How much my presence or lack of it likely affects my own parents.

From Grandma Pati:

  • Simon has taught me how wonderful it is to be a Gramma.
  • Simon has taught me the excitement of running down the sand hills.
  • Simon has taught me how awesome it is to watch movies together.
  • Simon has taught me and reminded me how special a nightly prayer is.
  • Simon has taught me how fun it is to dress up for Halloween, even if you’re a Gramma.

From Grandpa Al:

  • We need love. Simon has taught me to express love.
  • Simon has reminded me so often that we all are searching for something that we are yet to find.
  • Simon’s smile is full of the warmth that God has provided. His ability to redirect his focus after insurmountable odds shows all of us we can adjust.
  • Tension is present in all of us. Simon exhibits his frustration in a simple straight forward way. Right or wrong it is Simon and in many ways it is all of us.
  • Simon has a unique gift to tune out the rest of us. Is it not a gift that we all aspire too? His ability to tune back in with motivation shows his interest to be relative within our family. God bless Simon and God bless our family.

From Auntie Liz:

  • He was the first one to teach me about the love of an Aunt for a Nephew.  And boy did/do I.
  • He has taught me to sit and enjoy a few kids programs on television with my own kids as a way of entering their little world and sitting with them for a while there in that world.
  • He has taught me the art of balancing pizza on three fingers while under consumption.
  • He has taught me how sweet a smile is when genuinely earned.
  • He has taught me about the importance of pirates, both in history and in today’s world of “intruders” and what not.

From Auntie Jessica:

  • Simon has taught me about the unconditional joy that lives deep within each of us and it’s the ultimate pleasure to witness him living those moments when his squeals of joy fill the world.
  • Simon has taught me about a love that transcends what most consider to be a “normal” mind – for in what may be considered by some to be a setback, he has excelled beyond my expectations in so many aspects of who he is. His hugs are better and more meaningful than most because they are 100% heartfelt and authentic.

From Jeffrey:

  • Power of concentration: how to concentrate on one thing and block everything else out especially as relates to Legos.
  • To act out any movie part spontaneously.
  • That the force is with him – when he was randomly selected to go through Jedi training at Disneyland and achieved a lifelong goal of becoming an honorary Jedi knight. I wish I could tell you how happy I was that day.

From Paolo:

  • Simon has taught me about paying attention and being aware of specific details. His memory and ability to recount stories and shows is amazing and has always impressed me and motivates me.
  • Simon also has taught me that sometimes we’re just not in the mood – and that is OK! I really love that Simon is Simon and he is completely authentic – sometimes when I visit he wants to hangout with me and other times he doesn’t – that’s not only OK, its something I should remember that is ok in my own day to day, when I’m feeling my own moods.

From Katie:

  • Simon has taught me how special it is to find joy in the little everyday things,
  • Simon has taught me the worth of going just a little bit out of the way of your own personal convenience to achieve happiness for another person. Those smiles and hugs are so so so worth it.
  • Simon has taught me how special a bond can be between two people.
  • Simon has taught me how delicious refried beans + cheese + chips are.
  • Simon has re-taught me my love for The Goonies and Home Alone.
  • Simon has taught me there is always time to be silly and fun, even when you are supposed to be serious.
  • Simon has taught me to savor those big after school hugs he is just so good at giving.


  • 1.
    Alida said…

    Looks like I’m first to comment, but still drying my tears here. Simon sounds just as awesome as I’ve pictured him (that smile gives away his magic I think). And you all rock at journaling!!

  • 2.
    dawn said…

    Ali, this is so beautiful!! We should all do this for our kids and ourselves, another way of telling the story. LOVE LOVE WHAT EVERYONE SAID!! Did he see this yet? He will love it and feel so good about himself! Thanks Ali for inspiring us again.

    Simon I’ve learned so much about me and my kids thru your mom, if it wasn’t for you there would be a little less sunshine, love, happiness, SMILES, curiousity and WOW moments in our lives. Thanks for being such an awesome kid so that your mom can help INSPIRE us to be better and to tell our stories!!

    Ali, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do and share with us, you touch so many thru your blog and I learn something new each time. You are all lucky to have Simon as he is to have all of you ON HIS SIDE!! HUGS AND SMILES TODAY!!

  • 3.
    Ainslie H said…

    What a wonderful project – I love this idea!! Simon is an awesome boy.

  • 4.
    Janet White said…

    Powerful. Amazingly powerful.

  • 5.

    This is the sweetest thing ever. How lucky Simon is to have so many people that love him in his life. And how lucky you all are to have Simon!

  • 6.
    Robyn said…

    this was soooo beautiful.

  • 7.
    Stacey said…

    This is just lovely. It brought tears to my eyes.

  • 8.
    Michelle said…

    Very sweet and inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  • 9.
    Melyssa said…

    such an awesome post! these are all wonderful life lessons❤

  • 10.
    Sonja said…

    Thanks a lot for these unbelievable words!♥

  • 11.

    So Simon still sparkles, I see. :)

  • 12.
    Jill Kane said…

    Love this. Simon is lucky to have all of YOU.

  • 13.
    Brooke said…

    I’ll second the ‘you all rock at journaling’ comment! What a way with words you all have. Wow. And Simon, what a lucky boy you are to have so many people know and love you so well. Did Anna have any to add?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Definitely going to ask her today – she should be included for sure! Can’t wait to hear what she has to say.

  • 14.
    Nicky from Okotoks said…

    Nothing like a good cry in the morning – touches so many soft spots for me – having our little man who is only a few months older than Simon and such similar stories. What a wonderful boy Simon is and a true gift.

  • 15.
    Laura Moegenburg said…


    A friend of mine has a son just diagnosed with autism (he is 3), she is struggling – with your permission I would like to share this with her.

  • 16.
    Susan said…

    amazing words gifted for simon to see. and very inspiring for a story to tell.

  • 17.
    Susi from Germany said…

    this is just beautiful … Wiping some tears away …

  • 18.
    Krys72599 said…

    What a lovely gift!
    I think that journaling prompt will be the basis of SEVERAL pages I do later this year – one for each of my loved ones…
    I’ve had such a hard time scrapping a page about my dad who passed away in 1987, when I was 26. I have yet to do a page about him. Nothing every satisfied me, not the pictures, not the journaling, not the embellishments…
    But THIS, THIS I can do and I think THIS will be the one that I don’t tear apart and start over.
    Thanks for sharing, Ali!

  • 19.
    Chris H said…

    May this inspire all of us to think about what we have learned from others in our lives AND TELL THEM. Too often those things are considered after a life ends and we wish we could let them know. I’m going to send emails to key individuals in my daughter’s life and request they write something.
    She’s entering teen years…what a wonderful gift to give a young person trying unconsciously to figure out what place they hold in this crazy world.
    Thank you Ali, again, for enormous inspiration.

  • 20.
    Yolanda D said…

    What a neat project! That is a treasure and clearly shows that Simon, himself, is a treasure.

  • 21.
    Yolanda D said…

    And I might add that Katie is a treasure to have been so thoughtful in coming up with this great way to affirm someone.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      She’s the best.

  • 22.
    Lisa W. said…

    What a beautiful thing you are doing…for Simon…for you…for his Dad…for his Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and those he is SO close to! If only we ALL took the time to document all the little things in life that really are the BIG things in life. Thank you for sharing. And I am wondering, is this “project” going into PL, or into a scrapbook? I know you and I know you have something yummy big planned for this awesome stuff:)

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Thinking a minibook will be in order – one that he can keep for himself.

  • 23.
    pearl said…

    that is beautiful. and a reminder that we should document this for all of our children. i’m sure simon is just beaming from the inside out that all these people love him. soooooooo doing this for my kids. ali, thank you for all your inspiration.

  • 24.
    Monica said…

    Wow Ali, what can I say?! Tears and laughter all at ones. What would the world be without those who can teach the rest to see a little differently?! A scary place indeed.

  • 25.
    Fiona said…

    Beautiful and oh so precious. What a great project.

  • 26.
    Brandi said…

    I LOVE this Ali…amazing and so much love for Simon. A great idea, thank you for sharing with us.

  • 27.
    Jenny A said…

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. How special to get everyone’s perspective. Thank you so so very much for the inspiration.

  • 28.
    patty said…

    beyond sweet..

  • 29.
    Sarah R said…

    Very special! First statement brought tears to my eyes, and they continued as I read. Our children have so much to teach us when we are ready to learn from them.

  • 30.
    Ellie Augustin said…

    Beautiful. LOVE. Perfect.

  • 31.
    Jenni Hufford said…

    this is so wonderful.

  • 32.
    Dana said…

    AWESOME post Ali and Katie! Love this perspective! What a great way to journal/share/tell stories. I will definitely be doing this soon to get some of the stories I want told. I love to know what Anna’s response to this question would be…I bet she’d have some awesome things to say as well…

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Definitely going to add Anna’s thoughts later today.

  • 33.
    Beverly said…

    This was TRULY wonderful!

  • 34.
    Stephanie said…

    This made me so teary (in such a good way)! Absolutely beautiful!

  • 35.
    Sarah said…

    “We need love. Simon has taught me to express love.” – Grandpa Al.
    When I read this, I cried, the big fat tears of joy. He nailed it!

  • 36.
    Melissa Sharp said…

    I didn’t expect to be crying over my morning coffee this morning, Ali. Such beautiful and heart-touching sentiments.

    Do you think Simon’s autism affects the things he has taught you? I have four kids, one with autism. And while I’d like to think I’m a better person for having each of them, truly, it is Owen who has changed my outlook on everything in life. There is something to be said and appreciated from these precious little people who are so blunt and so honest, who feel and express JOY so completely, who love so purely.

  • 37.
    Amy Z said…

    Ugh…I want to cry. Such amazing wonderful words for Simon !

  • 38.
    janet kemper said…

    This is Awesome! I love it all.

  • 39.
    joanne smith said…

    so touching. what a wonderful idea… thank you for sharing this Ali & Katie! and thank you Simon for being you :) ah, the goonies, awesome movie!

  • 40.
    Jen said…

    That is such a sweet way of expressing what Simon means to all of you!

  • 41.
    Leslee Barrow said…

    I’ve had my first cry of the day! What beautiful sentiments for your little man. It will be awesome to be able to go back and read all these over and over. So touching!

  • 42.
    Neisa said…

    Once again, you inspire me. This is absolutely amazing. My daughter is 23 and now has a child of her own. This will make a great birthday present, I will start contacting relatives now. Thank you so much for sharing your creativity.

  • 43.
    Paula said…

    Well…crying and smiling here too. May I add that Simon has also taught me, as a reader of your blog for years now, that each of our kids on the spectrum may be considered “different” but guess what – their differences render them role models in may ways for “typical” people like me. Sometimes I consider hunting down one of those “Why Be Normal” bumper stickers and literally posting it on my bathroom mirror, to remind myself at the start of every day that the goal is not to comply with the masses or follow the crowd, the goal is to defend everyone’s right to be themselves. Thank you for sharing this fantastic post. Hope you don’t mind if lots of us steal the idea.

  • 44.
    KellyC said…

    Doesn’t really get any better than that! What a fantastic project!

  • 45.
    Kaylea Hutson said…

    Ali – this is powerful. It’s amazing. It’s a lesson I want to share with the parents of my children’s ministry.

    May I do so, along with a link back to your page?

    I LOVE this idea. I do a mission trip with the kids – and ask the parents to write them a letter tell them about how they feel about them – and why they think it’s cool they tried the mission trip (over night/older elementary students)….this could help explain what I’m trying to do even more!

    Asking permission to use the idea with attribution.
    (FYI – I’ll probably share it on my blog, the kid min blog, and the conference kid minister blog – since we share amazing ideas like this.)

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Thanks Kaylea – absolutely welcome to share.

    • ….
      Kaylea Hutson said…

      Thanks Ali! Love it Love it Love it.
      Thank you for giving me a dose of inspiration today (it’s cold and gloomy in Arkansas). This really, truly made my morning.

  • 46.
    Kathy L said…

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. This is such a beautiful activity, one that all of us should consider doing with any of our children to show them how special they are to us and to the world. All children are unique in their own way. Has me crying at my desk.

  • 47.
    Mary Ann said…

    Just WOW! Our granddaughter Caroline with Down Syndrome is graduating from HS in May and this would be a wonderful way for everyone to share the joy and learning she has brought to us all. Like Simeon her smile lights up the place, no matter where she is!Thanks Li for sharing this lovely project. And to Simeon for always brightening my day!

  • 48.
    Amber said…

    So touching. Thank you for sharing!

  • 49.
    Pam said…

    Beautiful, uplifting and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing Ali.

  • 50.
    Carrie said…

    Amazing. Everyone could benefit from a list like this this.

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