December 14, 1994 my world changed. God let a little sunshine into my life. Alyssa Nicole was born. The perfect baby girl. Throughout her first months of life she was like any other baby, she laughed, smiled and cooed and brought smiles to all around her.

As she grew we noticed she was falling behind with normal development speech & walking, all came later than usual. She was diagnosed at the age of 2 1/2 with Autism Spectrum Disorder after a few miss diagnoses. The picture of life the doctors painted for our family and Alyssa was bleak. Still we never gave up hope or gave up on Alyssa. It took longer to potty train her along with other fundamentals other children have no problem with. She stared off into what we called "her own world" singing and playing with her hand. She loved to be sung to; her favorite was "The ittsy-bittsy spider. Aunt Nancy would sing and show her the hand movement "you are my sunshine" was another favorite. To this day it can still calm her when she acts out.

She loves school and had always done well. There has been a struggle with her outbursts, pushing and yelling. The unkind stares from others when this happens is understandable because she appears to be no different from you or I. She has so much inside that she cant get out. Alyssa is now 16 and beautiful! She enjoys singing, dancing and the Disney channel, as well as pretty clothes almost like any other 16 year old. She is my sunshine, her sister Lydia and brother Dominic are very close to her and include her in all their activities. They are younger but understand their sister is special. They go above and beyond to make sure she is happy and feels included at home or out at the park.

She still has a hard time with crowds or parties and any break in her routine. Despite what we were told to expect from Alyssa she can read, write, work the computer and her CD, radio and T.V. and can sing any song she hears in perfect pitch. I have never sat and wondered what her life "could have been" because it is what it should be, special, my sunshine. She is such a blessing to our family; teaching all of us patience and love every day with her smiles!