In January 2016, we were told that Patrick has Autism.  Some things that seem simple to others, may be difficult for him. 

It is important to teach any child the meaning of empowerment, and to let him know that it is ok to stand out. This past summer, I took my 3 year old son with me to an arts and craft festival in town. We walked the festival, without the intention to buy anything.  As we walked past a tent labeled "Creative Capes," I saw a bright red cape with a white "P" staring at me and my son.  I thought to myself, 'I said I wasn't going to buy anything today, but this is just too good to pass up.'  My son, Patrick, looked up at the cape, amongst the other beautifully made capes, and smiled and said "P."  It was a sign.  I had to buy it for him.  And I did.

Just like any parent, I worry about my son feeling comfortable being who he is. I worry that he will come across others that will not accept him because he is different. I always try to teach him that different is great. The world would be boring without different. And that it is a wonderful thing to stand out and that he should be proud of who he is. I feel the cape does just that.

When we got home from the festival, we went outside in the backyard and I put on his cape. Immediately, my little 3 year old boy, smiled and began galloping around, hands in the air. A smile beamed on my face, a tear filled up my eye, and my heart warmed instantly. His happiness and pride in himself was glowing, and he was anxious to show it off. His cape hangs in his room and every so often, he reaches for it and says "help" for me to put it on him. Each time, a smile is on his face.

That cape makes me feel a sense of empowerment, as a parent of an autistic child, who has struggles of my own. My son is my hero. He faces struggles every single day that others do not and he not only overcomes them, but he does so with a smile on his face. He can work on one goal for days, months, years even...and not give up until he succeeds. His determination is inspiring to me. I have learned a million and a half things from him since he was born.  He has taught me to notice how beautiful the little things are in life and how easily they can go unnoticed. I always say the day he was diagnosed was the day we were told he has super powers. So, to me, that cape is fitting because he is my little super hero. And seeing how happy he is in it, and how special he feels, is his and my way of celebrating his super powers together.

I also have three nephews, all under the age of 2. I decided to get them each their own cape for this past Christmas. All children deserve to feel special, and I knew the cape would do just that for each of them.

I just wanted to say thank you for putting so much love into what you do.  It goes a long way.

- Sara B. 

Holly Hagen