CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There is no day as special as someone's birthday, but one Corpus Christi mom made it extra special to celebrate her son's sixth birthday.
South Side resident Marissa Ackerman decided to share her son Jacob's birthday by writing a note and attaching it to his backpack.
Jacob, a student at Kolda Elementary, was diagnosed with nonverbal autism in 2019. As a result, Jacob uses an AAC device to communicate and his family had to get creative with communicating with him as well.
"It's really hard because as parents, there is really not any guidance on what exactly you're supposed to do," Ackerman said. "It's not easy and afterward (the diagnosis), just dealing with it, there is a lot of just figuring it out. We (Marissa and her husband) do what we can for him. We are his voice."
When the family moved to Corpus Christi in 2019 from Houston, Jacob's mom said that he struggled to adjust. Between the pandemic, his diagnosis, and adjusting to a new environment, it took him a while to settle.
"It is a lot of work having a special needs child. With Jacob, it (the move) was a really big change for him and then he had to go through ACI (autism campus inclusion) during the pandemic so everything was virtual. So he's just now finally back in school," she said.
Having the note on Jacob's backpack not only lets others know that it's his birthday, but it's also a way for him to make friends and communicate in a way where others understand him, even when he's not verbalizing it.
"I'm not too certain how much he understands about his birthday but every year we still try to make it special, even though times are really difficult for us right now," Ackerman said. "So we were like," How is he going to say happy birthday?"
Ackerman later shared her note on a Corpus Christi moms group on Facebook to reach out to other moms at Kolda Elementary, and to other families with nonverbal kids.
"That way it lets others know that there are so many unique ways to celebrate our kids, to get them out there, to share with people - it helps get the conversation going," she said.