Exploring the Beauty of My Son’s World

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Let me show you the beauty of my son’s world. And how my perspective has greatly changed over the years.
A while back, my son Cooper, who is now 12, began showing me a still frame of Dora the Explorer on his iPad.
Dora happened to be wearing a purple pirate outfit. She was with her crew on a boat. They were making their way to Mermaid Rock.
He has showed me Dora and her purple outfit at least a hundred times.
Cooper also happens to be nonverbal. Meaning, he can’t necessarily tell me why or what he wants with Dora.
So, we play fifty questions.
I’ve determined, after sleuthing and digging, that he wants to be a pirate, and wear a purple hat, jacket and boots, and go on a pirate ship, and visit Mermaid Rock.
And to be clear, any pirate costume will not do. I know because we scoured amazon together.
He wants this all so badly he had me put it on the calendar. Apparently, this magic is happening next week.
Oh, and he wants the monkey, Boots, too.
Talk about pressure. See, when you have a child who never really asks you for anything, well, when he lets us in his world, or decides to join ours…we do what we can to make it happen.
Cooper just fell asleep for his afternoon nap. Next to him, paused on the screen, was Dora.
His friend.
I asked him this morning if he thought she was real. Plain as day he said yes. Because she is real. To him.
Cooper who will be ten next month has no friends in real life. Not in the traditional sense.
I used to feel a lot of sadness over that. Yup, I can admit that. I thought that friends were a requirement in life.
But then I had Cooper. And I discovered autism. And learned that life can look differently and be just as beautiful.
His best friend is Dora. They spend all day together. They have plans to sail on a ship together.
I am so glad and thankful he has her.
Cooper has changed everything in my life. Especially my perspective.
He is happy. So happy. And I am thankful for the glimpses he gives me.
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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