We Shouldn’t Feel Like We Can’t Share

Kate 48

The other day I found myself with a group of mothers. We all had kids roughly the same ages.

We chatted about the craziness of raising kids right now.

We laughed. We vented. We did what mothers do.

Then we bragged about our amazing kids.

One mentioned her son getting straight A’s this year. And practicing for his driver’s test.

Another spoke of her child going on a missionary trip and how great that will look on her college application.

We chatted about sports and the things four year olds say. And babies too.

Climbing on tables and not sleeping through the night.

I chimed in when I could. Sawyer this and that. Harbor and Wynnie too.

And my Cooper.

I used to not know what to say about his progress. Because it was so different than most.

For years I felt a little uncomfortable saying all of Cooper’s huge giant wins. Not because I wasn’t ecstatic. But because I didn’t know if others would understand.

How goals scored and tests aced and drivers licenses and new jobs can also equal a new sound. A new food. A life skill.
Not anymore.

I don’t hold back anymore.

I told them that Cooper eats popcorn now! Which is super cool because we have popcorn parties on Friday nights and he wants to participate.
I bragged that he’s managing the countdown calendar to Christmas this year. And every morning, at 6:00 he shows me that he changed the counter. Then points to the fireplace. I raved about how huge that really is. Counting, Santa, delayed gratification, patience, communication, joint attention. I could barely list all the reasons.

I kept going.

He can make his own toast now! And fill his cup with water from the fridge. Two skills we have worked on for years.

He can use the remote! Even type words into YouTube. And he loves Loud House now! Which is a nice change.

He held the door for me the other day when my hands were full. He’s learning about wearing deodorant. He puts his shoes and coat in the closet every day.

He asks, even begs his little brother to play downstairs with him.

He’s learned to tattle. Which is a riot. And a huge skill!

He tells us when the bus gets here. He watches for it and communicates that it’s here. SO HUGE.

He can plug his iPad into charge. And he does so ever night before he falls asleep.

These aren’t little things. They are small big things.

In the beginning, I felt sad sometimes. Sad to share. Worried no one would understand. Maybe even a bit slighted and jealous.

Not anymore.

And you shouldn’t either mom and dad.

And grandparents too.

Shout your baby’s accomplishments from the rooftops.

As parents to kids with disabilities, we shouldn’t feel like we can’t share.

In fact, I encourage you to share more.

Small big things.

‘Thank you for my best birthday party ever!’ That’s what he said to me last week. Well, he had Sid the Science kid say it for him.

He got my attention and pressed play on his iPad.

I cried. Big, happy, joyful, proud, thankful tears.

I was once told he would never talk to me. And I should prepare for a life without words. I was told a lot of other things he would never do too. Like have a friend.

Funny, how it all works out when you belong to a little human with autism.

They lead the way.

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.
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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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