Autism Parenting: We Practice Everything

CoopandJ store

We practice. We practice everything.

I remember in the beginning l, after the diagnosis of autism was said out loud, feeling overwhelmed about all of the things my son needed to learn.

Things that came seemingly easy for most children.

Walking safely, using silverware, speaking, playing, self care, I could go on and on.

When I thought about all of it I almost couldn’t breathe at times. I didn’t know how to do it all.

So, I did what any logical person would do…I made a list. I ranked them. I picked what was most important and what could wait.

For our family, it was safety, safety, safety. Walking not running. Standing not bolting. Seeing cars and lakes and other dangers.

And we practiced. Every day. Over and over and over again. We had fails. Oh so many fails. But we had successes too. Because we never stopped practicing.

Last night, I watched my son stand by calmly while he and his dad paid for magazines at Barnes & Noble. Such a simple act.

One that took so much practice.

I watched him in awe.

After many years he seemed to understand the cashier wasn’t taking his things away. That he would give them back.
He smiled. And jumped with joy. And took deep breaths. And stayed calm. And stayed upright. And signed ‘thank you.’

Parents, you don’t have to teach everything overnight. Remember, you have years and years. Really, you have nothing but time to practice it all.

Proud mama moment for me.

Standing back and watching these two do something so simple to most. Only I know how hard we worked for this success. And the practice it took.

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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