Apr 28, 2009



my son was given a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder yesterday.

i am still processing this new information (there’s so much to digest!), and i am at a bit of a loss for words.  i am in complete peaceful acceptance of this diagnosis, and am looking forward to exploring the opportunities that will come because we have a name for this.

i would like to use this blog as a space to share the journey we have been on with sam for the past 4 years, and the new road we are about to embark upon.  i would love to hear your stories, your thoughts, and your ideas.

my boy is such a gift.  an incredibly sweet little handful.  just look at that face!!!!!

stay tuned folks…



  1. Bec says:

    I LOVE this lil man. He touched a spot in my heart in January that has NOT been touched since. I fell in love with him INSTANTLY..(kinda the way I fell in love with you…instantly…back in Human Sexuality class…tee hee). But seriously…..Im glad there is finally a diagnosis….just to be able to move forward…but NOTHING in concrete and Sam is a RARE lil gem….a unique boy, living his life the way he knows how…and SURROUNDED by so much love…and the raddest parents he could ask for….and a brassy, SASSY big sis!
    love you Downers! xo <3

  2. emily says:

    Oh love, I am sure you have lots and lots over the next few days and weeks. I can imagine, so much love to you. But in my limited experience with you and your boy, a better mother he could not want. Your abundance of love for him, paired with the gentle way about you is such a blessing. He is a lucky lucky boy to have a mama to love him like you. xoxo

  3. Amy says:

    I think this kid is amazingly blessed to have such a proud, accepting, compassionate, and loving mama.

    Lucky kid.

  4. Bearto says:

    Awesome bathtime pics! What a nut! Looking forward to reading!

  5. Amy Stoner says:


    I am touched that you shared this news with us, and I wish you much love and support on your journey as you deal with this new diagnosis. I’m not an expert on Autism at all, but I used to work with some teens with autism while I was in college, and I really loved working with them and all the little jewels of personality that do make them so special. I know it can be frustrating at times, but I wish you much love and support with this!


  6. jenijen says:

    Those *are* awesome bathtime pics!

    You know that I’ll stay tuned; I really look forward to reading more about you and your family, and I can’t wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks xoxoxo

  7. Shannon says:

    Jenijen sent me your way.

    What beautiful pix of a beautiful boy.

    Here are some words for you:

    And write me whenever ever you need to.

  8. Sandy says:

    Jen – such lovely pictures of such a lovely child. Welcome to an adventure, frustrating at times, but full of the wonder you’ll feel as he grows and finds his space in the world. Is this block of pictures a mosaic? If so, how did you do it?

  9. carlyn says:

    Hey, Sweetie. I’m curious – is this an educational eligibility, or a medical diagnosis?

    I owe you and email – I’ll get right on that!


  10. abby says:

    oh my lord.
    you amaze me. your spirit; so kind, warm and happy shines in all that you do. i want to give you and this boy a gigantic hug!
    what a day that must have been for you and your family…so many questions i am sure, but it must feel like a small relief to have some things answered! you are so brave to share this all with us.
    i look forward to following you in this journey.

  11. Jessica says:

    Amazing endearing photos!

  12. Gemma says:

    I have three kiddos, a NT (neurotypical) daughter and two little boys, both on the spectrum. I know how scared you are, believe me.

    It’s not as bad as your fears.

    And it probably won’t be quite as you hope.

    It’ll be different. And you will savor and come to love that difference, as you probably do already.

    Lots of hugs!!!
    And if you want I list of my favorite autism blogs, send me an email.

    Lots of love

  13. Nicky from Canada says:

    Jen, it is great to have a diagnosis to help you get extra support and help, it is great when you can access some more services. They all play such a huge role in early development and improving your little mans life. He is the same amazing boy that he was yesterday before the diagnosis, that is the amazing part – he is beautiful and so very special. As you go forward on this road you will find out how amazing and special he really is. Our little guy was diagnosed around the same age – 4 years old and is now 7 – we had so much help with our resources – it was amazing. Keep focused on what works for you all as a family and especially for him. I found that a lot of Ali’s documentation ideas helped me so much, and it is amazing to look back on some of these items now to really see the growth that has occured for our little guy over the past 3 years, because it is easy to forget those accomplishments.
    You have a wonderful road ahead of you and a very special little man to teach you things about life that are truly amazing.
    God Bless

  14. Your photography is so beautiful and inspiring…looking at it is just what I needed today. I can feel your heart in it…so soulful. And I am pretty sure I have the same bathtub as you! haha. My son Charley is in mine on my website under babies I think.
    Thank you for the images you create!

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