Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

I’m Thankful For When My Special Needs Son Surprises Me and For Disney Pixar

When I started this website, I’d already gotten through too-often shattered dreams and years and years of wanting to have a baby. When I started Finding Ninee, I’d already had my baby. Maybe this would be a different website or a different story, had I started it in younger years. Maybe it would be about pregnancy loss, expectations, or something about living skanky back in the 80’s.

Sometimes, I know, it’s also about all of those things. But today, it’s about the special needs little boy that I love now. Today. It’s about life lived here, shattered expectations, and gigantic thankfulness for what I have. This life, and this boy of mine. It’s about today.

Before having my son, I wanted nothing more than to raise a tiny human into a not-so-tiny-human and to teach him/her a love of life, of words, of magic, and of kindness. I dreamed of playing catch, french braids, swimming, the telling of and listening to stories, and teaching my own tiny person to whistle using only their lips and a few blades of woven grass grown from the springtime sunshine.

Back then, when I wasn’t yet a parent and knew everything about parenting, I knew that I’d have a child who would grow up to love words as much as I do. After all, I have loved words since the age of three, when I brought home my first Froggie Does (Something) book from my Montessori preschool. I wanted the same for my son or daughter.

I ended up being blessed with a little boy who not so much loves his words. I ended up with the kid who needs endless help in pronouncing them, embracing them, and sometimes, even acknowledging their existence.

I ended up with an awesome human who sometimes hates words.

He wants to love them, I know, because he understands their power and usefulness and he understands all of the very best of things about them but he and the rest of us do not understand why he cannot say them.

Words are hard for him. They suck for him. They are clear in his head and in his ears and yet they come out twisted and broken from his mouth. He knows what he wants to say and he wants to say it.

But he often can’t.

maybe he does not love words and maybe that is fine.png

Sometimes, though, he surprises me.  Today he surprised me.

When my husband and I met, we both loved movies. A perfect date night was sitting at one of our apartments with take-out, a few beers or a bottle of wine, and a great movie. When our son was born, my husband couldn’t wait for the day that Tucker, too, would love movies.

It became evident early on that he may never have the attention span to love them the way that we did, and we stopped watching them together, focusing instead on other things.

One day, a few years ago, we tried. We took Tucker to see Cars 2 I think, and left after 10 minutes, defeated.

He spent the entire time crawling on the disgusting floor, looking at the exit lights. We never did use that refund.

Today, though, I’m thankful for Disney Pixar and Big Hero 6 because we watched it, and he said in the way that he does “That was incredible!” when it was over.

Here’s to progress and ABA.

special needs kids can like movies

Even more than movies, Tucker surprises me with a knowledge of words and song to the point where he knows the mini-climax in a tune.

He makes me thankful and he makes me realize that while I know a lot about my little boy, there are so many things that I’m still learning.

Things like that he knows when to put his arms up in the middle of a song. And that, my friends, is a little bit life changing.

It’s hard to hear the music here, but he’s dancing to “You’ve Got To Move It Move It” from Madagascar. And? He totally nailed the ending.  See for yourself.  It’s 16 seconds so not exactly a commitment.

This has been a thankful post that I actually wrote for last week’s thankful but somebody *cough* closed the linkie early so… um, yeah… which maybe means that it’ll be the first time ever that I do two in one weekend. I know!

Ten Things of ThankfulYour hosts: A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall, Amycake and the Dude, Considerings, Finding Ninee, Getting Literal, I Want Backsies, Mother of Imperfection, Rewritten, Thankful Me, The Wakefield Doctrine

Join the Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group


  • Dana - He totally nailed the ending! I’m so glad that Tucker is surprising you in such good ways. He’s going to keep doing that, you know. And I hope he keeps dancing, too – it makes life more fun.November 10, 2014 – 6:58 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Dana, I was SHOCKED at the ending. I guess he’s heard the song enough or saw somebody do it… because I actually took like 6 videos and this was the first. And so just well perfect? Right? I hope he keeps dancing always. And thank you.November 10, 2014 – 11:45 pmReplyCancel

  • jt walters - Tucker has great taste. Alex thought Cars 2 was not amusing and did not watch it either.

    Tucker is making progress. Children with special needs teach us more about our humanity and our character than anyone else could.

    Have you considered Tucker might be a Math person?

    He is a beautiful young man and he completely nailed the ending! May he keep surprising you everyday! I know Alex does but less surprised and more shocked at times. And still yet, I too am grateful everyday for him.November 10, 2014 – 8:08 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - He does have great taste!!! And I agree that kids with special needs teach us SO SO much about life, our character, and even other people’s characters – more than probably anything else does. He might be a math person. Weird thing? He scored WAY higher than the county standard on the word stuff. He just can’t say them always…. Here’s to being grateful, my fab friend. Always.November 10, 2014 – 11:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Robin - I always love your posts, so uplifting. And the video is so great! So true, the comment above about children w/special needs teaching us in so many ways, and I think it really helps them too as they get older, not only know their own differences but accept them in others too. My son is about to turn 10 and we have been talking about that more and more. There are definitely so many reasons to be thankful and there will be marked growth at every turn. Definitely need to be there with that video camera!November 10, 2014 – 8:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow, thanks so very very much, Robin! I love the video too 🙂 and it’s so true that all children teach us so much but those with special needs make us really take a step back to appreciate everything. Of course, it’s not always easy or awesome but when it is easy and awesome? It’s that much more so! Here’s to remembering the thankfuls and thanks to you so much for your great comment! I really appreciate it!November 10, 2014 – 11:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Maybe your love of words and movies are in place to be patient when Tucker doesn’t click with those things as easily. A parent who didn’t have such a great love perhaps would not persist and try again or rejoice in those small (yet so great) victories.
    I think you know my theory on this – the parents of special and high needs kids are the parents of those kids because they are the only parents that would work for that child. Does that make sense? As my Grandmother would say, “God knows what He’s doing – just go with it.”
    These are great things, Kristi! Huge hugs to all of you from all of us. XOXOXOXO
    Now I’m going to watch that video…November 10, 2014 – 9:21 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa,
      I always so very much cherish your comments and maybe you’re just exactly right – maybe, my love of words compensates for Tucker’s lack of loving them or maybe it just taught me to cherish the ones that he has all that much more. And yeah, it makes sense. Your Grandma sounds like a wise wise woman and hugs to you from here right back sweets. I have a feeling Tucker will crush on Kidzilla big time when he finally meets her!November 11, 2014 – 12:12 amReplyCancel

      • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Of course! Because Tucker and Zilla are both awesome! And when she gets a look at his dance moves, she’ll be totally sold!November 11, 2014 – 11:16 amReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - He DID totally nail the ending!!! SUPERB!!!!!!! Oh, how I love your words- YOUR words are ironically and purposefully giving Tucker words… YOU are his voicebox and YOU were made to help him through this new and design of redefining the power of words. His WILL come. And? The blessing here is that he DOES understand them…

    And I think how many in this world are unable to use words the way we ‘want’ them to…

    Hmm.

    You, momma- know how to use them. You momma, will lovingly guide and teach your baby just how.November 10, 2014 – 10:10 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Chris!! How is it that you always know what to say? I think that you’re right with the thoughts in there about using my own words to help Tucker to find his and to celebrate the ones he has, knowing how important they are. And yeah, I will will will do my everything to guide and teach him how as well… love this and thank you.November 11, 2014 – 12:14 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Best post of the morning, my friend. I am so freaking happy you had that positive experience at the movies. It is amazing what they retain and can output isn’t it? The other day Bridget her a song from Sofia the 1st and started belting out the chorus. Amazeballs.November 10, 2014 – 11:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kerri –
      I am so freaking happy about the movie experience too. I truly never ever ever thought it would happen and when it did, it kinda did all the way which weird but I’ll so take it and yes to the amazing stuff that our kids get all of a sudden when we thought they weren’t even paying attention!! I need to see the video of Bridget doing Sophia – I know that it is incredible!! I’m so excited just reading those words!!!November 11, 2014 – 12:16 amReplyCancel

  • Scott - That video is amazing! He’s definitely got the moves like Jagger.November 10, 2014 – 12:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - Oh, oh, oh – the movies!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, we’ve had our disasters. Ironically, the first movie I was able to get Bear to sit through – and in the theater, to boot! – was Cars 2. He loved it. Since then, I’ve taken him a couple of times – Frozen, Wreck It Ralph and the Lego Movie. We did it! It’s so gratifying to go as a family. I took the younger 3 to Alexander and the Terrible, etc, Day yesterday. You should take Tucker, because it was flippin hilarious! I didn’t bring Bear, because his class went last week, but I’m not sure if he would have sat that long, without animation. I’ll have to ask his teacher how he did. Anyhooo – baby steps! BTW – LOVE the dance moves. I could squeeze him.November 10, 2014 – 12:50 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - How funny that your first success with a movie was our gigantic “OMG he’ll NEVER be able to sit through a movie” experience!!! Seriously. He was crawling on the floor. Looking at the lights in the aisle and just OMG it was awful. I left crying sure we’d never do it.
      But yesterday? For real, he was like “That was incredible!” OMG these kids of ours. I guess it’s in their nature to surprise us but wow.
      I’m not sure about a movie without animation but I’m willing to try!!! I remember that book from when I was a kid!November 11, 2014 – 12:32 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah - WE reached that turning point with Frozen. And then we discovered Toy Story. And now our DVD player is broken.November 10, 2014 – 1:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sarah my sweets. Netflix for the win. Tucker broke our DVD player before he even knew what it did. Because you know, it opens and closes and there are buttons and stuff that make it open and close and whatever on it.
      Awww – Toy Story? Have you seen Toy Story 3? Cry, you will.November 11, 2014 – 12:39 amReplyCancel

  • Emily - Oh yes, he absolutely nailed it! To this day, my Big Dude doesn’t really like to watch movies. It used to bother me, but now I know that unless it’s a documentary on basketball or a totally inappropriate movie like “Ted” he likely won’t last long. However, I’m NOT recommending you show “Ted” to Tucker — at least not yet. 🙂November 10, 2014 – 5:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Uh oh… not even sure what “Ted” is and will, I guess, wait to find out??? Yikes. Really, I thought that Tucker would NEVER enjoy movies. And then this. He’s liked a few in the past but they always required massive amounts of M&Ms and support but this one? He was SO INTO IT. I couldn’t believe it. I kept waiting for when we’d have to leave. I pretty much love Disney Pixar now though. Except I think I need to avoid Ted because um well. You’re wise.November 11, 2014 – 12:41 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I watched the ending twice!!
    I’m actually writing a post about how my kids aren’t the ones I imagined, but I’m also not the mother I imagined. It’s all so weird.
    Tucker has a doppleganger (sp?) at our school, by the way! I see him every day and I get excited but then I remember that you don’t live in New England.
    But why don’t you???November 10, 2014 – 5:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I might love you even more that you watched the ending twice!!! I know what you mean about it all being so weird that we’re not who we thought we’d be… and are not raising the kids we thought we would be. I look forward to that post of yours!! And really??? There’s a kid who looks like Tucker at school?????? And sigh. We don’t live in New England because the bacon winner has to live here for now. Sigh…November 11, 2014 – 12:43 amReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Ohhh look at him GO! He’s got rhythm down just perfick.

    And words will happen, in whatever format they do. Perhaps not what you dreamed of, but you always tell me that we don’t get what we expected but that what we get can be wonderful, too. Or something. You do tell me that kind of thing. And it’s right.November 10, 2014 – 6:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Rookie Parenting - This is so beautiful. I’m glad to hear little Tucker is doing well. Awesome moves!November 10, 2014 – 10:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Zoe Cote - Awww Tucker! THAT was incredible!!!!November 11, 2014 – 1:18 amReplyCancel

  • Jhanis - Ahahah He’s so cute! And yes, he totally nailed the ending! Who needs words when you can dance like that? 🙂
    We are so looking forward to watching the Big Hero 6. Hopefully this weekend!November 11, 2014 – 3:03 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Big Hero 6 was really good! I hope you like it as much as I did and yeah, I agree that he totally nailed the ending! 🙂November 11, 2014 – 10:21 amReplyCancel

  • Nicki Gilbert - Tucker rocks (in EVERY way :)), as do you! And I think I will take mine to see Big Hero 6 tomorrow – I was on the fence but this is a review not to be ignored!
    Since I started writing, Kristi, I realize more and more each day how much my kids teach me… mostly about me.November 11, 2014 – 5:42 amReplyCancel

  • Mike - I most definitely hope you will not braid Tucker’s hair 🙂 I think even we as adults can think, know and see words and have trouble verbalizing them sometimes. Then we have Tucker’s continuing successes to show us all what a young person without the all the “tools” YET (to verbalize)…can overcome, achieve and surprise in the most astounding, beautiful way! The wonderful surprises will continue to come and most likely be exponential from that amazing young sweetheart, Kristi! Btw Tucker…you absolutely rocked and nailed the dance number to the song! LOVED it! Sooooo proud of both of you! 🙂November 11, 2014 – 2:40 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Well if Tucker wants his hair braided at some point? I won’t judge him for that unless he’s being a douche in which case I’ll school him just right! Thanks, Mike, your comments always mean so much to me because I know they are heartfelt and honest and just well, awesome. And he so DID rock the dance, right?November 15, 2014 – 12:08 amReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Too cute for words! Oh, Lord, that is an adorable kid! And I am so excited that he enjoyed the movie!November 11, 2014 – 7:04 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Elizabeth. I was SO SO happy to enjoy a movie with him too. It felt like “normal” ya know?November 15, 2014 – 12:09 amReplyCancel

  • Becky Holland - What an inspiring post! thank you for sharing. My little girl understands what we say but struggles to communicate her words. it is such a wonderful feeling when progress is made!November 11, 2014 – 9:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think it’s also wonderful to remind ourselves that progress happens when it happens. I have such a tendency to feel sad when I’m confronted with kids doing so much more but really? Those kids? Have nothing to do with my life and I need to remember how far my own little boy has come! Thank you so much for coming by – I appreciated your “You make a difference” post so much!November 15, 2014 – 12:20 amReplyCancel

  • Angel the Alien - Tucker is bustin’ some moves! Glad he liked the movie! I kinda want to see it myself, even though I have no kids.November 11, 2014 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Angel!! You should just go see it! You don’t need kids to know awesome movies. I thought I’d be bored and I LOVED it. Go go go!!! Tell me that you went 🙂November 15, 2014 – 12:21 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - Tucker is a great dancer — and I heard you laughing at the end of his dancing. Good times!

    I think that part of positive parenting is learning to gradually let go of your vision of your child’s life and embrace their reality and promise. Parenting means that we glory in seeing our children evolve their own sense of the universe.

    See you at FTSF this week!November 12, 2014 – 2:27 amReplyCancel

  • Catherine - What a beautiful post, has put a big smile on my face 🙂 So happy for you and your son,November 12, 2014 – 3:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so very much! It put a big smile on my face too. Especially that it was not prompted! I appreciated your adventure post too so much!November 15, 2014 – 12:22 amReplyCancel

  • Katia - I love this so much, because I too, loved words from very early on and they are still important to me and I think about them a lot because I use a language that is not my first language on a daily basis. I think that words are one channel to experiencing reality. I think that it’s great for Tucker who sometimes hates words and struggles with them to have a mommy who loves them so much because whether we want to or not our children absorb some of our attitudes. I also think it’s great for Tucker’s mommy to have a Tucker who sometimes prefers to move it move it. One of my favourite things about being a mom is the totally unexpected paths our kids sens us travelling through. Thank you for sharing that awesome photo and the video. That made my evening! Love you.November 12, 2014 – 9:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Katia,
      I cannot find the words that I love nor the words that I do not to express how much I appreciate your insight, wisdom, getting-it-ness and overall awesomeness. THANK YOU and I love you too – so much. I know what you mean that maybe he’ll always prefer to “move it” over words but also maybe that’s fine and the way it’s supposed to be. I also love these unexpected paths.November 15, 2014 – 12:24 amReplyCancel

  • Susan Zutautas - Tucker did nail it and the ending was perfect! 🙂November 15, 2014 – 1:51 amReplyCancel

  • Chronicallysickmanicmother - Oh Kristi
    I related so much to this. The hardest struggle is to move past how we pictured it in our head and accept and be grateful for what we do have. Amazing kids.

    LOVE the dancing!November 15, 2014 – 10:49 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, moving past the ideas in our minds truly is one of the hardest parts of parenting and living and all of it… But you’re right – being grateful for our amazing kids is pretty easy – they ARE amazing. Thanks so much!!November 15, 2014 – 5:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Vanessa D. - He really did nail the ending. Obviously your guy has got rhythm!November 15, 2014 – 12:25 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know! I was so happy – that was the first take and I didn’t even tell him what to do!! Love it!November 15, 2014 – 5:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly - We experience, too, that children not always live up to our expectations. This becomes especially hard when one kid does and the other is just more of a dreamer, still so very playful and easy to distract at an age when her older sister was already working so straight forward. It’s hard to stay patient, but I am also thankful for the learnign experience of being her mom. We are so excited about all the progress she makes all of a sudden, and so proud of her. She is not her big sister, she’s not like us, but she’s still the most lovable 4-year old girl in this world!

    Enjoy your weekend, Kristi!November 15, 2014 – 3:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - What a great comment and insight Stephanie. I, too, learn so much from my son (and also try to stay patient with him!!!). I know what you mean, too, about that jump in progress. It sometimes feels like not much is happening and then boom! Huge progress!
      I was really really sorry to read about your Opa, too, and send you lots of hugs and peace to your entire family. xxooNovember 15, 2014 – 6:00 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - Okay. That video was worth the price of admission. Oh did I ever have that much energy. My youngest has trouble with memory and words. Well, it’s his attention span. Frustrating for him. But it’s more frustrating for mom to see him so frustrated.November 15, 2014 – 5:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Jamie,
      Yeah, so so frustrating to see our kids frustrated – one of the hardest things of all, I think! I hear you about wishing for that much energy! I wish!!! He did the same about 12 more times, too, with as much enthusiasm each time!November 15, 2014 – 6:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - I wonder if things turned out for any of us the way we expected. I know they didn’t for me. Some of it not so great, some of it better. I’ve been reading your words for over a year and that young man of yours certainly has changed. It’s been such a gift to watch him grow. He does have the moves and definitely nailed the end!November 15, 2014 – 8:38 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I doubt that things have been what any of us have expected. I wonder too though about how much it rocks our worlds when the simple givens aren’t well, simple or given. Maybe, nothing is though… And yeah, he’s changed… and grown, and gotten, and well just BEEN so much… sharing his progress is my number one thing about not going anonymous… and thank you.November 16, 2014 – 12:04 amReplyCancel

  • Dyanne @ I Want Backsies - Tucker totally rocks that dance, especially his Big Finish.
    ABA is a wonderful thing. I’ve seen it do great things with children from the autism center here in town (I’ve had several students from there in my preschool class over the years, attending with their ABA therapist, as they get ready to “graduate” from the center and go to kindergarten).November 15, 2014 – 11:18 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Dyanne, I know! it was so so cool – completely unprompted and just done! And yeah, ABA is amazing. For real. I think it’s the biggest thing ever for kids like mine and the rest of them!!November 16, 2014 – 12:22 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Tucker definitely has the dancing down!November 16, 2014 – 1:26 amReplyCancel

  • Michelle Liew - Kristi, I have this feeling that Tucker is going to love words just as much as you do. Perhaps more! And you have a great part to play in that!November 16, 2014 – 6:47 amReplyCancel

  • clark - yep, you can see that he’s playing for position as the ending approaches…turns to left…. bam!

    very cool

    (hey, you know that your Post (and this Comment) create a time loop that is quite real* right?)

    **real, as in, as real as any of the ‘sphere is…people who tell tales of their worlds, share the lives of people they love…multiplying that love… just thought I should mention that.*

    * no, that double asterix was not a mistake, it was on purposeNovember 16, 2014 – 9:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, he TOTALLY perfected that ending and that was the first take! BOOM.
      Awesome that I created a time loop that is quite real (with one or two asterixes and what is the plural of asterix? Asteri?) – so that means it’s still Sunday and I can go back to bed? No?
      But yeah, and thanks, Clark. You’re the bombdiggity.November 17, 2014 – 1:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Louise - I love the dance – and I love that version of the song. My girls have also dance-partied to that one 🙂

    Glad the movie went well this time! Yay for new achievements – and fun at the movies!November 16, 2014 – 12:26 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Louise! Here’s to awesome kids and awesome dances and yes – fun at the movies!November 17, 2014 – 1:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Beth Clay - Cooper has issues with talking…sometimes you can just see the physical struggle of trying to speak. I love the progress the hope…the knowing they know…and being ok with however that knowledge is expressed! Progress never stops…and for that I am greatful.November 16, 2014 – 3:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - OMG I love that video SO much! My girls want to watch it over and over again! We miss you guys!!!November 17, 2014 – 10:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Echo - Another great post! I honestly don’t know what I would do without my son’s movies and documentaries. He understands them so deeply, so much more than the daily social interactions that he doesn’t understand as much.November 19, 2014 – 9:48 amReplyCancel

  • Tarana Khan - You rock, Tucker! You have every reason to be proud of him. Isn’t it amazing how kids can surprise us even when we think we know them inside out?November 19, 2014 – 2:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Meredith - SUCH a sweet post. And, my kids love that song too. So fun! You’re the perfect mom for Tucker. I feel that every time I read your posts. 🙂November 20, 2014 – 8:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Jolene Philo - It’s wonderful to hear about your son’s progress. What a delight that must be for you and your husband. Thanks for sharing your good news at DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday link up.November 20, 2014 – 9:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Honey - This tugs at my heart! I love that! Also, love that you love ABA. BCBA’s rule just saying….November 21, 2014 – 2:46 pmReplyCancel

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