I Stopped Talking To Cooper A Long Time Ago


Yesterday Cooper’s Crisis Intervention Social Worker came over for our weekly visit. I have so much to write about that and will at some point. He has given me more valuable advice than any single person, blog, doctor, etc., throughout this journey. He has helped me and my family.

And in turn I want to share that with you peeps. But, per the usual, I am days behind at work and working from home in a disgusting house with dirty dishes, dog hair and a pile of laundry that would scare my mother. So, I am going to share one tidbit that I have been thinking about all night.

This man, David, who is probably in his 50’s, has helped thousands of autistic children and adults over his career. He comes into your home and observes and talks and collaborates and gives ideas. WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!!! He gets to know the child. And the family.

Yesterday we were commenting on how vocal Cooper is becoming. He has even developed a strong, loud ‘yeah’ and makes the ‘H’ sound when beverages are hot. So huge.

From the beginning, he has told me to stop worrying about Cooper talking. He said whatever I do…whatever therapy we do…isn’t going to change this outcome. He’s either going to talk or he isn’t so stop worrying.

He told me a story about a completely nonverbal autistic 8 year old girl that he had previously worked with. He said she was having a particularly hard meltdown so he brought her outside to the porch to calm down. He was sitting with her and talking with her. He told me he talks to nonverbal children in a completely normal and natural manner. He was talking about his day….how hard it had been…how he was tired…and how he was having pizza for dinner. And then he asked her….’do you like pizza?’

Without looking up she said, clear as day, ‘Yes, I like pizza.’

This girl was completely nonverbal.

He asked her what she liked on her pizza?

And she said ‘pepperoni.’

David told me he never lost his cool. He never acted surprised. He just talked with her. And at one point he looked back into the house from the porch and the little girls mother was sobbing.

What a story. Was she cured? No. Did she start talking regularly? No. But she spoke.

His advice to me was NEVER stop talking to Cooper. Talk to him normally. Ask him questions. Pretend that he is talking back. Do it so much that it starts to become a habit.

After he left I tried to talk to Cooper and it felt weird. It did not seem natural. Then my mommy guilt kicked in. Do I ignore him? Do I acknowledge him at all? I couldn’t remember.

So my goal is to start talking to my son again because in my heart I know I stopped a long time ago. Part of me blames the technology device that he is always using. But that is no excuse.

Happy Friday ya’ll.

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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  1. NickyB. on July 22, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Excellent advice!

  2. ahdavey on July 23, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for this. I know I don’t talk to my son as much as I should… as much as I talk to my other kids. This has given me a much needed kick up the backside xxxx

  3. Colleen on July 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Great advice! Love the story, it gives me hope!