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Welcome to the Secret World of Autism

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.

I Won’t Give Up

By Kate Swenson / May 9, 2022 /

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. 80 years young I told him on the phone. ‘I’m old Katie Marie. I’m old.’ When he said it we both laughed. Like we always do. As we chatted about the weather and my brothers and kids and how he misses driving, I felt the shift in time. I am old. He is older. Neither of us young anymore. We laughed a lot. Which felt like putting on an old lived-in sweatshirt that you’ve had for years. Each of his laughs brought me a sense…

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Boots

By Kate Swenson / May 9, 2022 /

This morning, right as he was heading out the door for school, my son Cooper said a word for the first time. Umprompted. The word was boots. He said it so casually, so matter of factly, that when I heard it, I didn’t catch it at first. I was playing legos with my other kids and yelling goodbye and I love you while thinking about my day. I was busy. Mom busy. But after he said it, he paused, just for a moment. He was looking right at me from…

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Permission to Pause

By Kate Swenson / May 9, 2022 /

This motherhood stuff is tough sometimes. Like cry at 3 am tough when your sweet baby refuses to sleep. But a friend of mine, Carrie Cariello, told me the most beautiful thing this weekend. And I can’t stop thinking about it. We were on a panel. Me, her, and our friend Jackie. We were asked what advice we would give to parents of newly diagnosed kids. It a pretty common question. I spoke of pausing. Not rushing through. Taking time to process and feel the big feelings and sit in…

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Be Thankful it Happened

By Kate Swenson / May 9, 2022 /

Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person? I like to think I’m glass half full. I strive for optimism. Mostly. Lately I’ve been a bit down. The season of life getting to me a bit. My three year…he is pure joy. I call him my too much kid. Too much noise. Too much mess. Joy. Love. Energy. All of it. He reminds me to look at this life with happy eyes. Like this exchange… “How was your day buddy? Good. Who did you play with?…

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You are Special for Just Being You

By Kate Swenson / May 8, 2022 /

My sweet boy, I’m just sitting here watching you sleep. I often do this, just so you know. I sneak in your room and quietly sit on the bed near you. Someday I’m sure you’ll tell me I’m creepy with your speech device. Or maybe even say it. Secretly, I can’t wait. I can’t wait for that simple normalcy. But until then, this mama ain’t stopping because I like to watch you sleep and imagine what you are dreaming about. I like to rub your hair and snuggle you really…

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A Hundred Shades of Color

By Kate Swenson / May 6, 2022 /

One of the things I’ve learned in my 39 years is that there is more than one way to look at something. Most things are complicated. Intricate I guess. They aren’t simple. While we assume things will be black and white, cut and dry, they are actually a hundred shades of color. I’ve even learned that my heart and mind can feel differently too. As if at odds with each other. I just took my oldest and youngest sons to the park this afternoon. Our park. The one place where…

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A Photo is Just a Snapshot in Time

By Kate Swenson / May 6, 2022 /

I’ve found that someone can find fault in every photo. A paper plate, a ponytail, a pacifier, a child’s smile or weight. A women’s eyebrows or the paleness of a man’s skin. Dirty countertops and car seats, babies running around shoeless, and the amount of time a child spends on an iPad. Even a double chin or a cookie. I could keep going. A pacifier. A runny nose. Makeup. A diagnosis. Discipline. The amount of time a mother holds her baby. The length of time she breastfeeds. So much so…

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The Special Mother by Erma Bombeck

By Kate Swenson / May 6, 2022 /

The Special Mother written by Erma Bombeck “Did you ever wonder how mothers of disabled children were chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over the earth selecting his instruments of propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger. “This one gets a daughter. The Patron saint will be Cecelia” “This one gets twins. The Patron saint will be Matthew” “This one gets a son. The Patron saint…..give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity” Finally He passes a name…

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See Our Kids

By Kate Swenson / May 6, 2022 /

See that man on the left there? He stopped by our home today to do business with Cooper’s dad. When he walked in…Cooper gasped. And pointed. And waved. Now knowing my sweet boy, I know that he will continue to wave until said person waves back. Sometimes, people don’t notice him because he is unable to speak. Or they are busy. Or they get uncomfortable by the bigger eleven year old boy waving so intently. I’ve seen it all. So, I often gently say…‘this is Cooper and he is autistic.…

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Why I Share Our Story

By Kate Swenson / May 6, 2022 /

It’s about meeting the parents. That’s why I do this. Write. Share. Let people into our secret world of autism. Your son reminds me so much of my son. I found you years ago when I felt so alone. You saved me. You don’t know it…but you did. When I have a sad day your kid’s smiles bring me joy. Thank you. You showed me this would be okay. I don’t share for follows or likes. Or to be recognized. Or any other reason like that. I share because the…

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