Is He Happy?

cooper 2

Today was a day. Long. Hot. A bit boring. Fun at times.

The kids are figuring out this summer vacation thing. So are mom and dad.

Schedule changes are tough I tell ya. It takes time to settle in. To figure out how to slow down.

I watched my two oldest, Sawyer and Cooper, swim for over an hour.

At first, just Cooper wanted to swim.

It’s his most favorite activity ever. He’s a fish in the water.

An autistic adult told me once that being under water is the best therapy ever. Something about the pressure.

He said two words clear as day.


Swim and Sawyer. Pretty amazing for a kid with a diagnosis of nonspeaking autism.

They had fun. Lots of fun. It was beautiful really.

Later I found myself nursing the baby when Sawyer made his way too me.

He was crying. Which felt strange because he never cries.

His eyes were red. His face blotchy. He didn’t appear hurt. He had been alone in the garage at this point. Tinkering with his bike.

‘I’m sad my brother has autism mama. It’s not fair for him. It’s just not fair.’

I didn’t react right away. I let him talk. Ask questions. He mentioned God. And lost voices. He mentioned being really worried and scared. He said he wishes it could get better. He told me he doesn’t understand.

When I finally spoke I told him I understood everything he was saying and feeling. Validating his feelings is very important to me. So is giving him a safe space to talk about hard topics.

And then I asked him one question.

‘Is Cooper happy Sawyer?’

Without a pause he said yes. And we smiled together. Because both of us knew that Cooper is the joy of our house.

‘Cooper is the happiest person I have ever met Sawyer. He loves his family and his life. Every day is the best day of his life. And I’m pretty sure you made his world today when you swam with him. Even though I know you didn’t really want too.’

His response broke me a bit.

‘I won’t always be here mom. To swim. And I just don’t think he understands that.’

I snapped this picture before baseball tonight. Through the window.

Sawyer stealing a touch. A hug. A moment. Just like I used to do years ago.

Please encourage your children, the siblings, the ones born into advocacy, to ask all of the questions. And talk and share. And to be scared and worried.

We have to talk about this stuff.

‘When I come home mama, Cooper will be like 30 years old. Do you think he will still want to swim with me?’

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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