It’s Our Normal

Coopers 14

My 11 year old son and I just passed a group of boys his age.

Some older. Son younger.

One was on a cell phone. One was doing tricks on his bike. A few were shooting hoops.

I noticed them right away. Older boys. Almost teens.

But then I realized the boy holding my hand is almost the same age.

It was one of the slow moving realizations.

They were smarting off to each other. Being silly. Pushing the limits. Not being bad. Doing what kids do at that age.

I noticed the parents were a ways away. As they should be. As children grow up we gain distance.

I know this.

My son, he’s 11 too. And he always holds my hand in some sort of way.

Meaning some days he clenches mine. Some days I hold on tight to his.

Some days he links arms with me.

We lead, each of us taking turns.

He pulls me to trains. I lead him away from cars.

He twirls and dances.

I point to the sky.

Autism. Touching everything. Changing and morphing.

11 is not really 11. On paper yes. But not in real life.


Each affected a little differently.

We walk together. Him and me. Always.

The boys playing noticed us. I noticed them.

It’s not strange or weird for my son to hold my hand. It’s our normal. But I guess, to the outside world, maybe it appears that way.

We don’t care though.

We are just happy to be outside.

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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1 Comment

  1. Maureen Watkins on July 28, 2022 at 11:42 pm

    I’m so glad I found you and “Finding Coopers Voice” on Facebook.
    I am currently at university working towards my teaching credential in special education.

    I’ve worked with adults and kids who are as I like to say “differently abled”. But it was working with a young boy on the spectrum in a special day class that I understood where my true passion lay.
    Been in college has taken me away from the teaching classroom and I am desperately waiting for the day that I will be able to go back to a classroom full time as the teacher.
    Each day is a blessing a new challenge to find a solution for, but I wouldn’t want it any other way because when those milestones, no matter how small happen, the feeling you share with that child is like nothing in this universe.

    Anyways just wanted to share a little of me and thank you again for sharing yourself and Cooper with us.

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