Never Give Up Hope: Navigating Autism as a Mother

Cooper 11


Gosh I hear that word a lot.

Have hope.

Never give up hope.

All we can do is hope.

If we give up hope, than what do we have left.

In the world of special needs, hope is a hot topic.

Hope and I have had a rocky relationship over the last few years.

For years I hoped nothing was wrong with my baby.

Then I hoped my toddler would catch up. And then I hoped that it was ‘just’ a speech delay. Then I hoped it wasn’t autism. And once I found out that it was, I hoped he was high functioning.

Later I hoped for words and hugs and sleep and that we could leave the house and that we could stand still as a family.

I hoped way down deep that he would someday be fine and graduate and get a job and move out and have a family. But I kept that hope hidden. Because it made some people angry. And I didn’t know how to give up on it…as his mom.

I hoped so much I drove myself crazy.

And I even lost my hope for a while. And people came after me for that too.

I learned that I could never have the right amount of hope to make everyone happy.

See, hope is a funny thing.

Because to the outside world, I was hoping to change my son. Or not hoping enough. Some even thought I gave up hoping for his future.

And then I realized something, in my not so graceful way. I needed to look at hope in a realistic way. In a way that worked for me as a mom to an amazing little boy with different abilities.

I hoped for his happiness.
I hoped for his health.
I hoped he would learn to communicate.
I hoped our family would be the family he needed.
I hoped I could be the best mom to him.
I hoped for strength and courage and patience.

And I hoped for peace from the worry that was always trying to consume me.

Me and hope went a few rounds over the years. But this kid and I came out on top.

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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