Stacy and Cohen on Art and Autism
Shortly after getting married, Stacy and her husband struggled with a tough year of infertility that left them heartbroken. When a doctor suggested taking a break, Stacy decided to try one more treatment and was soon surprised with the news of being pregnant. Little did Stacy and her husband know that they were just beginning a journey that would continue to surprise them, but ultimately lead to the most joyful part of their lives, Cohen.
Cohen was only 6 months old when Stacy started noticing that he was not following the typical development path. Being a new mom with little experience, she wasn’t sure, but decided to take Cohen in to get tested. With a frustrating mix of responses from doctors, Cohen did not start therapy until he was 16 months old. It would take another year until he was oficially diagnosed with Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Stacy soon felt like she was on a dark, lonely, and long journey.
Wanting the best life for Cohen as possible, Stacy and her husband dove right into therapy and began to learn more about Autism. “I learned that if you have met one person with Autism, you have met ONE person with Autism, and no two Autistic children are the same!” Their families were a great support system and helped them find new avenues for therapies that helped Cohen specifically. Soon, they had a group of family members driving Cohen to equine therapy, special needs therapies, and other therapies that fit his needs.
Stacy and Cohen have turned the favor around to help others in the Autism community. One of their favorite things to do together is go into schools and speak about Autism to help raise awareness. They also have a big team of people join together to walk in the Oklahoma Autism Piece Walk each year to raise funds and awareness for Autism in Oklahoma. To raise money for their team, “King Cohen”, Stacy puts on a big benefit dinner where she shares her journey of raising Cohen to create awareness for parents, share positive stories, and help people have a better understanding of the diagnosis.
Stacy also shares her journey for others to follow on her Instagram, @artautism_. She shares Cohen’s accomplishments, struggles, and different parts of their story to help raise more awareness for parents just like her. Cohen’s artwork is displayed on the account as he continues to find a greater passion for art. “When Cohen was finishing up the first grade he found a love for drawing. He began to draw many things, he has a very unique way he draws and I have never seen anything like it! This became an outlet for Cohen, a way to wind down or calm himself! Cohen has really developed a lot of pride in his work, this is when I decided to start his Instagram page. As many parents enjoy bragging on their child’s achievements and accolades, we wanted to do the same. We also wanted to educate people that Cohen, and others, with special needs are still people with a passion and are still worth your friendship, love, and support.”
Cohen continues to grow and change and he continues to surprise those around him. Most of the surprises come in the form of new talents, even greater success, and all of the joy that he spreads to those around him. Stacy has many goals set for him to continue to grow, “My goal for Cohen is that he continues to grow and that he is accepted and not treated differently by his peers. I want to really encourage his strengths and allow him to grow in that and explore all the opportunities he has. He may have difficulties in communication, he may jump up and down and flap his arms when he is excited, he may struggle with obsessions and transitioning, he may not look you directly in the eye. He may not be a public speaker, a teacher, or the star football player. Instead, he may be a graphic designer or a surgeon! He may not “appear” to fit a specific mold but he does, can, and will do big things. My hope is that people allow him to do so without shutting a door because of Autism.”
You can follow Stacy and Cohen’s journey on their instagram account here.
Social Media Intern
Emma is a student-athlete at Purdue University majoring in Kinesiology. She has been involved in the special needs community for many years as a coach with Special Olympics Minnesota, and as a personal care assistant/respite sitter. She has worked in media, marketing, and journalism with various organizations. When Emma has some free time, she enjoys riding horses (she grew up doing barrel racing), baking doughnuts and cake pops (yum!), pursuing her new art interest (wood burning, painting, or drawing), or going for a long run in sunny weather (her favorite!).