Family Lights Up When Nonverbal Boy Spells Name for First Time

A previously nonverbal boy with “a smile that can light up the dark,” his father said, did just that for his friends and family on March 6, when they heard him spell his name for the first time near their home in Naylor, Missouri.

Timothy Ryan Ainley shared the poignant video of Cooper laughing as he uttered all six letters of his name under the benevolent gaze of a family friend.

Ainley told Storyful that Cooper, who will be five on March 15, was a “very, very special little boy,” who had been the rock of the family since they tragically lost their three-year-old daughter in 2019.

“Our life was turned upside-down as you can imagine,” he said, “but we stay busy as a family helping Coop navigate life. When you look at Cooper, you can see Reese’s features everywhere. As you can see, he has a smile that can light up the dark, and a laugh that can bring you to your knees.”

Ainley published the video to TikTok for autism awareness, and said that seeing Cooper’s milestone inspiring people had been great. Credit: Timothy Ryan Ainley via Storyful