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My husband, CJ, and I celebrated 10 years of being together. We actually have three anniversaries, but this is the one I regard to be the most important because it marks the date that life as I knew it would be tipped upside down.

My husband is the most incredible father who is ever-present for his tribe of girls. He has this cheeky grin and a great sense of humor, and he makes me laugh a lot. He’s so bright. He teaches me lots of things.

He also is fantastic at pulling me up when I’ve taken something too far, and he’ll often be the first person to roll his eyes and sigh with a comment like, “Why must you always insist on learning things the hard way?” (Because that’s me, baby, a bull in your china shop).


My husband is a 33-year-old male. He also has autism.

We were together seven years before we realized he has autism. It wasn’t until after my eldest daughter was diagnosed that  it occurred to us that CJ has autism, too.

I knew my eldest daughter wasn’t “neurotypical” from about age four in kindergarten.

Back then I didn’t drive, so we walked everywhere. If I walked a different route to kindergarten, she would fall apart. If I didn’t give warning when I planned to change her usual breakfast food, she would not handle it. She never liked to be touched by other kids in kindergarten. She didn’t cope well with singing songs. She would cry and cover her ears when someone sang “Happy Birthday” louder than a hushed tone. She didn’t give good eye contact. She didn’t cope with meeting new people very well. She was rigid in her routine, and there were plenty of routines.

I mentioned these quirks of hers to my husband. He dismissed them as “normal.” He said he didn’t see the issue.

That's because it was his normal, too.

Image via iStock.

He saw no issue with the way she behaved because he could see why. He could understand her triggers because they triggered him, too. And he had many of the exact same struggles when he was young that she was experiencing now. But no one made any connection.

After another very tough year, I decided enough was enough. I needed help. My daughter was melting down at the beach. Her screaming would go on for hours and hours. I’d tried everything, and nothing was working.

She was assessed. She was diagnosed with autism. It took a pediatrician an hour to make crystal clear a bunch of ongoing issues we’d been experiencing as a family for almost two years. I felt relief and like I finally had a sense of direction. When I told my husband, he was in shock and disbelief.

Ever heard the phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees”? It means sometimes the most obvious answers are directly in front of you, but you just can’t see then because you’re not paying proper attention.

A few evenings after she was diagnosed, my husband and I sat down on the couch together and went through her diagnostic criteria.

And it was there that we discovered so many of her quirks were the same as his.

We had been together for seven years by that point. Seven years of being in love, parenting together, and living together. We’d only ever had three nights away from each other. Then all the pieces began to fall into place. The reasons behind his social overload and only ever wanting to go out one weekend day now both made sense, along with his exhaustion from talking to people. We could even see it in the specific way he liked to organize the pantry. (Hey, who was I to interrupt such beautiful methodology?) We chuckled over just how many things we had automatically adapted to without even noticing.

A few months later my husband went and had formal assessments done. He received his official diagnosis at age 30.

He greeted it with grief, but also relief.

Which brings me to…

When I said yes to marrying my husband, I said yes to him along with his quirks (which back then I had no idea were due to autism). I loved him for the way he saw the world and how he worked within it. I loved him for the way he can fix anything that is broken, the way he seamlessly adapts to different social situations, and his impeccable attention to detail. I love him for the way he can problem-solve. I love him for the way he’s a straight shooter and doesn’t suffer fools. I love his dry sense of humor.

Looking at the big picture, I guess you could say the things I love about my husband the most are probably his most “autistic” traits.

Fancy that!

Autism didn’t change my husband. He’s never not had autism, and it’s what makes him who he is. But maybe his earlier formative years would have been a lot less stressful and hard for him had his autism been recognized. He could have gained the appropriate support and learned strategies at a young age rather than having to cleverly wing it for over 25 years.

There’s a lot more knowledge about autism now, definitely more than there was when my husband was a child. I guess that’s why we are both passionate about early diagnosis and intervention. Because when you love someone, you love them fully and wholly and you want to support them to be the best they can be, whoever that is. And you realize labels don’t define or limit a person’s abilities — but they can offer great insight into the individual’s personality and enable them to be supported to reach their full potential.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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