The Beauty of a Single Word

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I decided to take a much needed nap yesterday while my two youngest napped.
You know that old saying…sleep when the baby sleeps? Well those babies are 2 and 4 and they are double trouble. Between them and the new puppy and early morning wake ups…I’m exhausted.
Anyhow, I slept for 2 glorious hours. And I woke up to the most beautiful sound. One I had never heard before. One I had only dreamed about.
‘M-O-M?’ (Said slow. Each syllable pronounced as if he had to think about each one and he exact order.)
‘M-O-M?’ (Louder. More determined.)
And then a response from my husband.
‘Mom is sleeping buddy.’
My son was looking for me. He was calling out. He was wandering around because I could hear his voice getting louder and quieter. He was asking his grandpa and dad where I was.
Why is this such a big deal? I mean, my son is 12. He was asking for his mom like every other kid does a million times a day.
Except, that’s not the case for him.
My son didn’t say a word until he was 8. Not one word. Not even an attempt at a spoken word.
Cooper was nonverbal. We didn’t know if we’d ever hear words. And we accepted a forever without them.
But now he has some. He asks for a snack and help and socks and home and paper and cookie. He asks for school and his brother and a choo choo shop.
One syllable at a time. Slow and deliberate. As if he is plucking each sound from the sky. The effort it takes to say the words very obvious.
Not conversational. Not yet. Instead he asks for things he wants and needs. These are the things he loves. That’s how it starts I guess. Spoken language.
Most people can’t understand him. But I can. I know what every sound means.
It’s beautiful. It’s everything I have ever dreamed of. And honestly, if he never gets any more words I am fine. Because this is my greatest dream. Communication.
But I’ve always wondered what he thinks when I’m gone. Because without communication, a parent like me as no idea. Do our kids wonder where we are? Do they want us to come back home?
Yesterday, for the first time, I got my answer. One I didn’t know if I’d ever get.
I lied there for five more minutes or so listening to him ask calmly for me. I couldn’t stop smiling.
He was talking. Communicating. Driving his dad absolutely crazy.
It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.
Find the joy in anything and everything you can.
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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