Two Brothers

Coop and sawyer

These two had a brotherly scuffle last night.

Very typical in a ‘not-so-always’ typical life.
The older one is 12. The younger one is 9 for a few more weeks.
I could hear them wrestling upstairs. It honestly sounded like the ceiling was going to cave in.
I heard laughter. Squeals. Stomping. Running.
Words. ‘Come and get me!’ And the nonverbal responses that Cooper gives. Sounds. Happy pitches. Clapping hands. So much joy.
And then a scream. Yelling. Running.
A near tears explanation that Cooper ripped the fuzzy ball off the top of his hockey hat.
An easy fix I know. But he didn’t.
‘I hate my brother’ was said.

And Cooper signing ‘thank you.’ Not because he was thankful. But because he doesn’t know the sign for ‘I’m sorry.’

He knew he did something. He knew.

See, he doesn’t always have the communication he needs in the moment. Or it’s even delayed. It takes him time to process.
‘I still hate him,’ said the 9 year old.
As time went on, I forgot about the hat.
We decorated cookies.
We put away laundry.
We built cars out of magnatiles.
Time went on.
And then I heard…

‘Buddy, do you need help?’

I peeked around the corner to see the younger one knelt down in front of his older brother. Helping him with his shoe.
He was switching them to the right feet. Instructing his older brother to sit on the stairs.

‘This one goes here. This other one goes here. See Cooper. It’s hard for me sometimes too but you’ll get it.’

And then a sign for thank you. Perfectly timed this time. The older boy finding the communication.
This autism sibling life. It’s beautiful and messy and different and our imperfect normal.
It happens in time. With grace. And patience. And love and determination.
I’m honored to have a front row seat to it too.
This piece was written by Kate of Finding Cooper’s Voice. To read more about this journey, grab our book, Forever Boy. I’ll put a link in the comments.
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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