You Happily Went to School

Cooper 32

My son,

This morning you happily went to school.

That sentence right there. I felt the tears pooling in my eyes as I typed it just seconds ago.




At 6 AM you used your words to say…’SS-OO-LL.’ You held up one finger to remind me that it’s Friday and you have one day of school. Then two days with mom and dad.

You put your own shoes on, brought me your coat, gathered up your treasures, picked up your backpack, and waited calmly by the door.

It was 8:16 am. You know the bus comes at 8:23. You don’t seem to mind waiting. Your little brother waits with you, although I don’t think he necessarily brings you peace. But you appease him.

You let him follow you from door to window while you wait.

He looks at you like you hung the moon kid. He knows nothing of autism or special education, or even that your needs are significant. You are his brother and you are loved. Just as you are.

Minutes later as I watched you walk out independently to the bus with dad, I found myself taking a trip down memory lane.

When you were diagnosed at age 3.

Multiple daycares telling me they couldn’t ‘handle’ you anymore.

Frantically searching for a program that would take you.

Your kindergarten teacher telling me that you spent most of your ‘days alone so you wouldn’t freak out.’

Watching you scream bloody murder and run when the bus pulled up.

Starting new therapies and you refusing to get out of the car.

Running a marathon to get you inside.

Crying on the way to work.

Doubting every single decision.

Realizing that no one wanted you and maybe there was no place for you.

Knowing that your potential was limitless and praying the world would see that.


Me. Not you.

Others. Not you.

I could go on and on.

It wasn’t you kid. It was me. It was them. It was people who didn’t understand you, see your potential, or want to help you. It was all of it. But it wasn’t you.

I can say with certainty today that you are happy. You love school and your teacher and the bus.

I have never been more thankful for anything in my whole entire life.

Yesterday after school, you showed me your artwork. You ran up to me smiling and jumping up and down. You’ve never done that before.

I am so thankful for you Cooper. For your hard work and your progress and for people who believe in you as much as I do.

Keep being you, unapologetically. And I will stand alongside you, encouraging you the entire way.

Love, mom

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. Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and join our supporter page, Coop’s Troops, for an amazing community full of support and understanding.

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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