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When Briana Blankenship heard her 5-year-old daughter say “mama,” it meant so much more than a word. It was a big win.
In a video uploaded to Facebook, Blankenship explains that she was in a McDonald’s parking lot when she heard her daughter, Taylor, say “mama.” She started “ugly crying,” because Taylor has nonverbal autism and has “never said a word. Ever.”
“As soon as she said it, I grabbed my phone and started recording,” Blankenship writes. “I’m pretty sure I held up the drive thru line but there was no way I wasn’t getting proof of this. I can’t explain how unbelievably grateful and ecstatic I am right now,” she adds, adding the hashtags #AutismAwarenessand #BigWin.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) “is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges,” according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. “The term ‘spectrum’ refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment that people with ASD can have.”
And while communication can be affected in various ways, some children with ASD may never learn to speak.
Blankenship tells Scary Mommy that her family has been working with doctors for two years to help Taylor.
“We were told that it’s possible that Taylor may never speak,” she says. “Last year we were able to get her a communication device, which is an iPad that is locked in a program called LAMP — and she started the process of communication. We are still working hard to get her to express her wants and needs clearly thru the device.”
Naturally, when she heard her daughter speak for the first time, she was thrilled.
“Once I stopped recording, it hit me what just happened and I broke down into tears,” she says. “I could tell by the look on the cashiers face that she wanted to know what was wrong, but I couldn’t speak through the tears.”
In the video, Taylor can be seen sitting in the car, saying “mama,” giggling and smiling at Blankenship in the front seat.
Blankenship’s video has encouraged so many others going through similar situations. She tells Scary Mommy that the family has received messages from others telling them that Taylor’s given them hope.
” … Or that we are making them feel less alone in the daily battles of parenting a nonverbal child.”
Blankenship’s video has been viewed over 29 thousand times, with floods of comments from viewers.
“I am crying for joy with you!” one person writes.
“I also have an autistic child. His level of autism isn’t as high, but he struggles a lot to understand social behavior. I love what happened in this beautiful video. Blessings,” another adds. To which Blankenship responds: “Feel free to share! We want this to bring a better understanding to all forms of autism.”