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.


  • 51.
    Wendy Goundrey said…

    I have written previously to share that our oldest grandson has austistic tendencies and so I can relate so well to your life with your beautiful boy. They provide lessons on a regular basis and make us better people by paying attention to what we learn. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful insights.

  • 52.
    Tracy Smith said…

    Simon and my son (who is also autistic) are very close in age, and I feel as though I’m watching them grow up together, in a way. I think that every child has things to teach their parents, but I think ASD kids have even more. So glad Simon is in your world (and mine).

  • 53.

    I’m in tears even though I don’t know Simon. This post was beautiful and telling.

  • 54.
    Mary said…

    WOW…that is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  • 55.
    Wendy said…

    As always Ali, the thoughts and words of those you surround yourself with and of course your own, are inspiring. Thank you for such a heartfelt and amazing post.

  • 56.
    Amberca said…

    Completely Awesome!

  • 57.
    Suz said…

    love. just simply love.
    Thanks so much for sharing. For inspiring.
    Have a beautiful, JOY-filled day Ali!
    Take care you,

  • 58.
    Marie said…

    Wow! what a beautiful tribute (dare I say an ode?) to this beautiful kid! Thanks a lot Ali for sharing, this is awesome.

  • 59.
    Cortney said…

    This exercise is spot-on, and so wonderful! And it makes me think that, while you often give thanks to Katie & we see a snippet of her here, I’d love an intro to Katie! She seems like a salt-of-the-earth kind of girl who brings good along with her. Between these charming exercises and that cursive typewriter…And since she’s all official now, maybe we can be formally (albeit digitial) introduced?

  • 60.
    Amalia said…

    This made me cry. What a lovely idea from Katie, and what an amazing way with words you all have. I specially liked Grandpa Al and Katies… so profound and beautiful. I would sure love to read what Anna has to say.
    I think I will take this as an example of something I can do for my daughters. We always focus on what they are thinking/creating/doing while growing up, but we do not tend to question how their doing touches us, teaches us, does to us. Thank you Ali for sharing such a personal subject with us, to inspire us and enrich our lives. God bless you.

  • 61.
    Lisa said…

    Oh! I just got an idea for some very special Valentines for my kids!

    This was just beautiful Ali. Thank you for sharing.

    I have a special needs son, and every night I kiss him goodnight and tell him I love him and that he’s very, very special and the world is a better place because he’s in it. And lately he’s been asking me “Why Mommy?” I try to give him answers, but now I’m going to compile a whole list from all the important people in his life, just like this.

    xx Thank you.

  • 62.
    Sandy said…

    So touching, crying reading this. So special for you to have. Thank you for putting this my world today.

  • 63.
    Elizabeth*S* said…

    So beautiful. Left me in tears. The internet has given us the joy to “meet” so many people that we otherwise would not have had the blessing to say that we “know”. We’ve had the joy of seing Simon grow and move mountains right before our eyes…thank you for that gift.

  • 64.
    Mary Sara P. said…

    Very inspiring. I think this is a wonderful thing and Simon is a special boy.

  • 65.
    Deb J said…

    This is just wonderful. I’m so proud of how well Simon is doing. He’s such a wonderful boy. I’m loving “watching” him grow up.

  • 66.
    Amy P. said…

    So sweet, tears in my eyes. You have a very special little boy!

  • 67.
    HilaryJ said…

    Wonderful. It would be a real treat to do that with any child – wish I’d done that with mine (now 30 and 27)… though it’s never too late…

  • 68.
    pammie~k said…

    what a beautiful project – I have a daughter with Down syndrome and sometimes we need to be reminded of all of the wonderful gifts she brings to others and how she has changed lives. Each of our children are blessings – but my G has shown me more of what life is. Thank you for sharing – and I would love to work on a similar project….

  • 69.
    abbeyviolet said…

    This is such a wonderful gift and memory. Thank you for the inspiration and for sharing it with us.

  • 70.
    Yolanda said…

    Simon has taught me that it’s possible to root and cheer and feel tremendous love for a boy I will never meet.

  • 71.
    Kim H. said…

    Brilliant! I’m going to do this for my 18 year old son for graduation in the Spring! Thank you for being OPEN and sharing! ;)

  • 72.
    Megan W said…

    What an amazing idea. Go Katie for initiating it. This is something we could all do for our kids and other important people in our lives.It never hurts to be reminded how special we are to others or how special those in our lives are to us. Thanks for sharing, Ali!

  • 73.
    Pidgen said…

    this was beautiful.

  • 74.
    Lorimay said…

    Ali, this is amazing. My daughter’s birthday is coming up on Valentine’s Day and a mini book like this is definitely something she would love. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • 75.
    Jana Oliveira said…

    It makes me cry because as parents of Autistic kids I know it can be hard to have a kid that thinks different than what society expects but this is what I want at the end for him to feel loved, special and embraced the way he is his autistic self and not be afraid of that word because that word makes him who he is.

  • 76.
    jaimee h. said…

    again you have me all choked up!!! I love the way you let us into your world Ali. We all feel ever so connected to you and your family’s stories and makes us realize things about our own journeys through this life. It really is so special how you let us in. Thank you again!

  • 77.
    rhonda nickol said…

    Thank you Ali for sharing this and making me realize the important tihings and people in my life,what they mean to me. And thank you Simon for being you!

  • 78.
    Stephanie said…

    Thanks so much for sharing this Ali, you and Simon have inspired me for years. I recently started homeschooling my 9 year old son who has high functioning autism and I was struck today by how much he teaches me, when I’m actually supposed to be teaching him. Your post was so timely and made me cry, but they were tears of joy. Thanks again.

  • 79.
    Sue W said…

    so beautiful Ali. Simon is extra special as is all his family including Katie. Thank you for sharing. My daughter is 43 now and has brought untold joy, love and learning opportunities (!) to our lives…wouldn’t be without her. Did you take lego home from Ireland? xxx

  • 80.
    Debbie S. said…

    Good job to Simon for teaching all those things! Especially Home Alone. That is definitely one of my favorites, too.

  • 81.
    Dori said…

    i’m speechless. and misty-eyed. thank you so much.

  • 82.
    jen said…

    this is awesome…made me tear up!! i am definitely doing this with my kids and loved ones. thanks.

  • 83.

    what a great idea! love this & will attempt to do same real soon! thank you for sharing.

  • 84.
    Stacey B from Australia said…

    Sitting at work reading this continually drying my eyes…beautiful and something Simon will treasure when he is older. What a beautiful authentic family you have Ali and I think we could all do with a little Katie in our lives!! xxx

  • 85.
    Lara said…

    *love* This is so awesome Ali – all kids are special, but sometimes our ‘special’ kids teach us the things in life that make our whole families that bit more special.

  • 86.
    Natalie said…

    I have watched your journey through your blog, and loved seeing Simon’s achievements, you must be one proud mumma xxx

  • 87.
    Jonnelle said…

    This is wonderful and beautiful! What a treasure. I’d love to hear Anna’s list!

  • 88.
    Cindy said…

    Thank you for this inspiration. My son was born with Down syndrome (33 years ago) and I think it would be awesome to include what our family thinks of him as a mini album. What a pleasure this was to read on your blog (forgive any misspelled words – I’m seeing through tear stained eyes).
    What a terrific kid Simon is and how lucky he is to have a family like yours.

  • 89.
    Debbie said…

    I am so glad Simon has such a loving giving family. He is blessed, and you are all blessed. The measure of each makes it whole!

  • 90.
    Shannon Mc said…

    From one autistic mom to another, thanks! Made my day!

  • 91.
    Mary in IL said…

    …and Simon, you have taught me (through your mom sharing with us) that you are in every way a beautiful gift from God to your family and all those who know you.

  • 92.
    mandyb said…

    just love it

    arohanui all (big love)

  • 93.
    Lauren said…

    What an amazing gift, now and in the future.

  • 94.
    Marilyn Nimmo said…

    LOVE this. My son turns 28 tomorrow and I’m thinking something like this would be perfect for him.

  • 95.
    Camille said…

    BIG BIG Smile !!!

  • 96.
    Chris said…

    I love this, but my second thought was that Grandpa Al expresses himself elegantly, also.

  • 97.
    Kristen said…

    So lovely and heartfelt. What an amazing boy. Happy Birthday Simon (a little early)!

  • 98.
    Shereen said…

    They are all so beautifully said, but I think I specially love Grandpa Al, he’s deep.

  • 99.
    stacie said…

    Ali, thanks for sharing. We too, have a son Simon’s age with ASD. I think this is an amazing idea to do to document and be heartfelt with all of our “loves” of what he has taught us as we celebrate his birthday this month.

  • 100.
    Kaly said…

    This is amazing! I hope it is something he can always go to when he needs a pick-me-up.

    Coincidentally, we are doing something very similar in our local church Primary this year. We have 81 children in our Primary, and the theme for this year is “I am a child of God”. As a primary leader, we have asked all the parents and any member of the church who knows any of the children, to write a personal letter to the child- expressing the very unique reasons why they are a special child of God, things about the child they are grateful for, how that child helps the adult writing the letter be a better person.

    We are safe-keeping these letters and handing them out throughout the year on each child’s spotlight day. Their picture will hang on a board where all the church members can see their light.

    I love that you did this with Simon.

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