The Little Brother and the Big Brother

Coop and Harbor
There is 8 years between these two. 12 and 4.
The little brother and the big brother.
I know the facts.
The little ones spoken language passed up his older brother’s years ago. He has a hundred words. He uses full sentences.
When the younger one leaves home, Cooper will be 26 years old. A grown man.
The younger one doesn’t know what autism is although we celebrate and speak openly about it daily.
He does know that his old brother doesn’t talk though. He asks about it almost weekly now. The first time caught me off guard.
They had been parallel playing in the basement together and suddenly the little one was pulling on my sleeve.
‘Mama, Cooper doesn’t talk.’ I couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement.
From that moment forward his eyes were open to sign language, sounds, gestures, and assistive technology. He is learning to listen with more than his ears.
I know one other truth. The day will come when the younger one will protect the older one.
There is a feeling in there; one that I can’t quite put my finger on. But there is so much beauty too.
I also know there is so much than facts in this autism stuff. There is what we feel and know in our hearts and to me; the feelings mean more than the facts.
These two are inseparable. When we are home, they are together.
The little one drives Cooper crazy sometimes. He takes his things. And moves his piles of treasures.
But if the little one gets a treat, he always gets one for brother and brings it to him with so much excitement.
Cooper may have few very words, but he tattles on Harbor constantly. But not in a mean way. More so in a ‘mom, look at what he’s doing NOW’ sorta way. He yells for my attention and then points and surely every time the baby is about to dump out a glass of water or splash in the dog dish or has a sharpie marker. It never fails. Cooper has his eye on him.
And just last week at an aquarium, Cooper reached his arm out to stop Harbor when he got too close to the railing. He knew it wasn’t safe.
And just moments ago, Cooper found mail. He loves mail so much. He grabbed the box and made a beeline for the junk drawer with the scissors.
The little one immediately yelled…’no scissors Cooper! Not safe.’
8 years difference. And yet they have this relationship where they orbit around each other, both understanding that the other needs a little help now and then.
I think the best things take time. And these two, they have some amazing potential.
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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