Discover more from Finding Cooper's Voice by Kate Swenson
Tell Them He’s Autistic Mama
A little brother becoming an advocate.
We were swimming in the pool at the hotel. It was our fourth time in two days.
My boys love water. It’s the one and only activity that the two oldest will actually do together. It’s also an activity that we can all enjoy. We would spend all of our time in the pool if we could.
Sawyer is always drawn to other kids. He’s been that way his whole life.
If he sees a little kid enter the water, he will be with him or her.
Cooper, he’s oblivious. Happy to splash, splash, splash and spin in circles.
Today we arrived at the pool early and we had the whole place to ourselves.
Cooper splashed. Sawyer jumped. The babies kicked and giggled.
It was nice.
And then another family joined us.
A mom. A dad. And two kids who appeared to be the same age as my boys.
They jumped in the pool. Sawyer was right there with them immediately suggesting some game involving cannon balls.
The three of them jumped for a few minutes before Sawyer left the water and ran up to me.
He seemed very concerned about something.
He said, ‘Mama, tell them, tell them he’s autistic. Tell them now.’
I was a bit taken aback. Sawyer usually never cares about Cooper when other people are around.
He’s a 10-year-old boy. He doesn’t notice much.
Why I asked.
He said, ‘They need to know.’
I did that thing where you step back and observe your surroundings.
Cooper was flapping. Humming and splashing. He was stimming on the numbers on the side of the pool. You know, the ones that say 3 feet and 5 feet.
He was making sounds. So many happy, cheerful sounds.
I had noticed the two children studying him earlier. No biggie.
In my mind I knew they knew. They probably didn’t know it was autism. But they knew that this little boy wasn’t interested in playing with them. And they didn’t seem to care one bit.
That’s the cool thing about kids. Typically, they just go on with their business.
I smiled and whispered to Sawyer, ‘Why honey? Why should we tell them?’
I really didn’t know how he was going to respond. I was honestly wondering if this was the first time he was going to be embarrassed by his brother.
And he said, ‘What if they are mean to him? If they know, they won’t be mean. Tell them. Like you tell everyone else. So, they are nice to kids like brother.’
I scooped him up in the biggest hug.
‘Honey, you don’t ever have to worry about people being mean to your brother. I promise you; mommy and daddy will make sure of that. Ask Cooper if he wants to jump into the pool with your new friends. I will help him.’
He seemed satisfied with my answer.
I sent him back to swim.
This little brother. The one who pays no attention to autism became an advocate just like that.
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