Briana Blankenship was running late, not an uncommon occurrence for the mum.
She pulled into a McDonald's drive thru to pick her daughter, Taylor, up some food. That was when she heard her daughters voice for the first time.
The 5-year-old is autistic and nonverbal. Suddenly, she started softly saying 'mama'.
Overjoyed, Briana grabbed her phone to record the astounding moment.
"I am ugly crying in the McDonald's parking lot and the employees probably think I'm crazy," she wrotem sharing the video on Love What Matters.
"In the drive thru I suddenly heard Taylor say 'MAMA.' For those of you that don't know. Taylor is 5 and is nonverbal autistic. She has NEVER said a word. EVER.
"As soon as she said it I grabbed my phone and started recording. 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."
Briana thanks the supports around her for allowing Taylor to reach this moment.
“Our family and her teachers and doctors have been working for the last 2 and a half years to get Taylor to where we are now,” Briana explained to Scary Mommy.
She had partially accepted the fact that Taylor might never speak.
“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 through the device.”
The pair were on the way to Taylor's gymnastic class when Briana needed to get her something to eat. While she rarely feeds Taylor fast food, it was one of the girl's favourite treats.
"We were on our way there — running late — so I had to go through the closest drive thru to grab her something that she would actually eat,” she recalled. “We rarely eat fast food so she recognised that she was about to get her coveted French fries and started getting excited and giggling in the back seat. That’s when I heard her say it.”
The video has since gone viral, with many parents of autistic children reaching out to her.
“We have had so many messages from people that we are giving them hope for their loved ones, or that we are making them feel less alone in the daily battles of parenting a nonverbal child.”
As for Briana, she's grateful that the uplifting video is bringing the daily reality of parenting a non-verbal child into light.
“We are most excited about bringing Autism into the light on a good and realistic viewpoint. Hopefully with all the attention the video is getting we can encourage more people to educate themselves on autism. With understanding comes acceptance and that’s all we can ask for.”