Lessons from My Son: Life’s Unknown Paths with Autism

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I could tell you a hundred things this kid has taught me in his thirteen years. More than most adults I know honestly.

I had no idea when I was pregnant with my first born that he would end up being the teacher that I needed.

Or that a child would turn me into the person I was meant to be. Funny to think about how I actually fought it at first. See, that’s the fear of the unknown. It’s a natural human reaction I suppose. I was scared. It’s as simple as that.

Autism. Severe. Nonverbal. Medically complex. Intellectual disability. Lifelong care. So many words to describe a blonde haired, ruddy cheeked boy.

He had hard years. Our family had hard years. No denying that. Autism was a mystery that came with unknowns and challenges. But we came out on top. He and I. All of us. And better. We are better because of him.

He’s taught me about life. And the good and the bad in the world.

He’s taught me about faith. And believing in something you can’t necessarily see.

He’s taught me how to be patient. And how to celebrate everything.

He’s taught me about hard. And frustrating. And exhausting.
He’s taught me about resilience. And how to never give up.

He’s taught me what it means to worry so much you can’t sleep. He’s taught me about fear. Real, can’t breathe, fear. But more importantly, how to harness it and turn it into courage. Even when you are scared.

He’s taught me about the beauty in taking the less traveled path. And learning to trust that it will be okay. Great even. If you just relax. And calm down. And believe.

He’s taught me about simplicity. And innocence. And magic.

And listening to Christmas music in April. Dancing in the streets to a song only a few can hear. Resting when tired. Having a party for no reason at all other than it’s a good day.

He’s slowed me down in a way too. Our whole family. He is our home. Always here. Waiting for us to return if we leave. Greeting us with a smile and a choo choo sound.

Open your eyes and see the beauty in this life friends. Adjust your attitude if you need too. Because he is one of the best parts.

Be brave enough to travel the unknown path because then, and only then, will you learn what you are capable of.

He wants to ride a tractor. He asked me this morning. A green one. With his younger brother Sawyer.
 
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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