I Just Live It

Cooper 20

We were sitting with the realtor about to discuss what we were looking for in a new home.

I know she wanted to know about bedrooms and bathrooms and location.

I didn’t care about that stuff. Not really. In the grand scheme of things that stuff wasn’t a priority.

“We can’t be near a busy road. The house has to have a fence or the ability to add one BEFORE we move in. And most importantly, we cannot, under any circumstances, be near water. Non negotiable. I worry about windows up high. They must have locks. The doors need to be strong too.”

I think I caught her off guard the way I said it with such intensity. I went onto to tell her about my Cooper.

My son is 10. He has minimal words. No communication in many situations. No sense of safety or understanding of danger. If any of our doors or windows are unlocked for a second he will be in the street. Or the yard. Or a pond. He will not look for traffic. He will wander. Or run. Head down. Or looking back. I went onto explain the realities of severe autism to her. To someone outside of our world.

She didn’t know what to say. She said she would do her best.

To this day I worry about water constantly. I see every pond, creek, lake and river. I know the love my son has for water.

He is almost drawn to it.

It’s the same with traffic. And busy roads. He loves the hum of the tires on the road. The license plates on the cars.

He loves sitting and lying in streets. He loves diving into them too. My husband and I have both pulled him back from danger more times than we can count. It was much easier when he was 2 and 4 and even 6. Almost 11 is not small. Almost 11 is fast, and smart and sneaky.

I never knew how terrifying it would be to keep a person safe who seeks out danger.

I jiggle the locks on the door every single time I walk by them. Hundreds of times a day sometimes. I need to know he can’t escape if I go upstairs or use the bathroom. The ‘ding’ on the alarm system notifying me if a window or door is open. I wait for the ding. I jiggle the doors. All day. Every day. Most likely for the rest of my life.

I used to love water. I used to love busy and hustle and bustle and people. I used to love being outside. Wide open spaces.


Now, I prefer safe. And quiet. It’s funny how all of this changes us as people. It’s the fear. And the worry. It consumes us as parents.

We aren’t supposed to talk about it I hear. It’s too negative. Funny, I think my son getting hurt or lost is a wee bit more negative than my worry. But what do I know. I just live it.

If you understand this post…if you live this life…please know that you are not alone. So many of us understand. Grab a copy of my book for more stories like this one. You will cry and laugh and feel understood. Preorder here Forever Boy.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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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