Our Story

Cooper4Me

I am a married mama and live in Minnesota. I have two amazing sons, Cooper and Sawyer. I work for a nonprofit as a Project Manager and spend most of my days in survival mode. Cooper has me on my toes at all times. I love being outside and spending time with my family and dogs. Corney…I know! I decided to write this blog because I have felt so lost and alone through this whole process with Cooper. It’s isolating and very scary to have a child with needs. Blogging has helped me find other mamas like me.

Super Cooper

photo 1Cooper turned 3 in December 2013 and is the reason I started this blog. Check out his STATS here. He challenges us daily…and always has. I worry about him constantly. I think I have actually made a job out of it!  I want him to be loved and be happy. Be smart and popular. He loves trains and balls and trucks and ALL technology! And anything to do with being outside. He can destroy a room in under 5 seconds. He LOVES to wrestle and tickle and snuggle.

Cooper is severely speech delayed. We found out in February 2014 that his social skills are too advanced to put him on the Autism Spectrum. He does have ‘some’ sensory issues as well as shows signs of Apraxia.  We were told by one of his speech therapists that his language is at that of a 6-9 month old. And in seeing Cooper and his baby brother Sawyer together, I would say that is about right. Cooper still doesn’t really babble like a typical baby should. But he is curious and bright and sweet and sensitive. And he couldn’t be anymore loved.

This is a video of Cooper at age 3.5. His joy is infectious. When I get sad about this journey I need to remember these moments.

SoyBean

IMG_1717Sawyer was born in January 2014. He is bubbly and sweet and relaxed and friendly.They are brothers and yet so different. Sawyer babbles nonstop. It is the sweetest sound I have ever heard. And yet it makes me sad at the same time. I know that Cooper may never babble. Sawyer has been the best baby. He is a pure joy and growing up WAY too fast.

Every single day I pray that this will get better. I pray that the light bulb will go on for Cooper. I pray that our lives will get easier. That I know our son will have a normal life with friends. But honestly, I don’t know any of those things. There isn’t a magic ball that will tell us what Cooper’s future will hold.

As of right now, February 2014, Cooper is in speech therapy 2 times a week and will be starting Occupational Therapy as well. His therapist has not made a diagnosis yet but is leaning towards Speech Apraxia.

I have shed more tears than I can tell you over Cooper’s speech delay. I want to hear him say mama more than I can tell you. I have even dreamt of it. I have tried to bargain with him. Bribe him. I have gotten angry and yelled. I have begged. But for some reason, he isn’t ready to talk. And no one can tell us why. I need to hear his voice. I want him to tell me about his day. And tell me about what he loves. I want to talk with my son.

Cooper’s speech delay has changed me as a person. I am more timid than I ever have been before. I used to be outgoing…maybe even vivacious. Confident. Now, I am scared. I worry constantly. I worry about everything Cooper related. I have even resented Cooper’s delays. I am not perfect. And neither is he. But we are a team. God gave me this baby for a reason. And I thank God every day for him.

Swenson (17)I am in NO WAY an expert in anything speech related but I am an expert in Cooper. I am focused on his care and getting him talking. As my husband says, keep your eye on the prize mama. And the prize is getting Cooper caught up so he can start kindergarten.

I want to share our journey with you. I want to give people who have children like Cooper hope. And courage. because throughout this whole process I have searched for hope. It’s that simple.

Have questions? Or want to know more? Email me at findingcoopersvoice@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

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38 thoughts on “Our Story

  1. Hi, there. I just came across your blog today. I have a son with apraxia of speech who is 3.5 (turns 4 in March). He did have a few words at age 3, but just a small few. (and now looking back, I’m sure he was TRYING to say quite a few words then, but they could not come out in any way I could understand.) We are still in the journey, but things are so much better. I can understand about half of what he says now, and he can get out some 4-word phrases sometimes (2 or 3 word phrases are more common). Just last week he ordered “pizza” at a restaurant and the waitress understood him on the first try without me having to help. That was awesome. For my son, PROMPT speech therapy has been the best treatment for his apraxia by far. His prompt therapist, who I love, told me that progress is fairly slow for 3 year old apraxic kids, but tends to speed up around 4, and that has been true in my son’s case. He just mastered some sort of ability to control the starting and stopping of his airflow when he speaks, and this has caused us to understand much more than before. Now he is working on his tongue, the next step, from what I understand. He is also a shy, anxious kid, but is starting to come out of his shell more and more and his teachers tell me he is starting to seek out his peers to play at school, which as you know, thrills me to no end. I was so worried about autism for so long, and just in the past few months, his behaviors are making it more and more clear that while there are issues, autism isn’t one of them for him. Anyway, just wanted to let you know of one more family (mine) who is going through apraxia. I totally get it. For me, life with my 3.5, almost 4 year old is much better than it was when he was just turning 3. Way better. 🙂 Feel free to email me if you’d like to chat more.

    • Hi there. Thank you for the comments! I once again read them outloud to my husband. I can’t even tell you how much your comment means to me. Your son sounds so similar to Cooper. I keep rereading your comment as I type this and it’s like I am reading about Cooper. I am going to email you so we can chat more. Thanks again!

  2. Also, my son never called me “mama.” That sound would not come out. I started as “eee-eee,” then moved to “nah-nee,” then our speech therapist had us change it to “mom,” and finally, now we’re at “mommy.” Sweetest word ever. Way better than “mama.” 🙂

  3. Hello, I just found your blog! I, too, am googling once again at the possibility of what is wrong with my 3rd son. I think our search history’s would be much the same…..Rowen( 3 and 3 months old) is my 3rd child with a speech delay, I mean for real but I digress, but he is the only one that wasn’t talking by the time he was 3. I keep hearing autism ( I don’t feel that’s what it is nor did his early intervention therapists or Dr. It’s his current special needs preschool feeling this way.) , I have heard apraxia(but no official diagnosis). We finally got tubes placed this fall after finding an ENT that agreed he had fluid with no infections, along with adenoid removal. I was so hoping that he was going to turn the corner with that, and while his eye contact has improved immensely and I can finally tell he hears me. I sit and wait to hear “momma’ and I love you. oh goodness, I could have written your post. We have very sporadic words, and nothing is ever consistent. But he adores his 2 brothers, loves to be around people, no sleeping issues (thank the lord) no food issues, ( I still fight this with his oldest brother), no outbursts or true temper tantrums. He has been by far my easiest going baby/child. Thank you for “getting it”, yet I am sorry that we both have to struggle with this. Our goal too is to have him ready to go by kindergarten, but with each passing day, I lose just a bit more hope. He was supposed to start 5 day a week preschool this week and we got slammed with a horrible snow storm that has canceled school all week. I just want to help. Anywho, sorry for my long saga. I just wanted to thank you again for understanding it, and putting into words better than i can, what I feel. Here’s to finding voices for our children!

    • Thank you so much for the awesome comment! I love! Cooper does sound a lot like Rowen. I met a women through all my blogging and googling that once came right out and asked me, ‘do you think your son has autism? Don’t be scared. Just think about it and answer.’ I thought for a long time and truly, honestly, I do not believe that he does. She told me to stick with it then. Don’t get sucked into a wrong diagnosis. That comment meant so much to me. It’s so true. The push to diagnose these little ones is high. Anyhoo, I am here for you! Us moms need to stick together. Email me or comment anytime if you need support. I know I always do! And PS, Rowen sounds adorable. Very sweet. Let’s get these little ones talking!

      • I understand that every child is different, but my grandson did not speak until he was three, and not until he had tubes put in his ears, and had his adenoids removed. The difference was remarkable. He could finally hear properly, and so learned to speak. Speech therapy helped also. it seems in today’s world everyone is looking to quickly diagnosis- and in many cases they are so wrong. As Megan wrote- don’t get sucked into it. Don’t let them talk you into believing something that may not be the case. Best to you

  4. After reading my post, I know that you read that my son didn’t say ‘Mom’ until he was 7. I, like you, used to dream (literally) of the day he would say it. I would get so jealous watching other toddlers running around calling out for their moms, while son hardly spoke a word. That among many, many other issues made his early childhood very challenging. You mentioned the ‘unknown’ in another post and you’re right. The unknown can be terrifying. But, no matter what you see now, there is hope. Keep on seeking help for him and like the commenter above said, “don’t get sucked into a wrong diagnosis”. Make sure they’re right. Get second opinions and a third if need be. You’re on the right path and the work will be worth it at the end.

    • Thank you so much for the comment. I really enjoyed reading your posts as well. You are an excellent writer! I am taking every day as it comes. It’s so hard to not worry about tomorrow or next year or the future. I just need to focus on today. Today Cooper is great and I love him! Thanks again.

  5. Hi, Thanks for seeing my blog as it gave me cause to come visit and learn about your life. I’ve read your whole blog in the last hour!! I can’t even imagine how hard life must be for you sometimes, and it will make me check myself when I think I’m having a ‘bad’ day. My mum is actually an OT back in Australia and works in a primary school with a special ed unit (that also sees young kids), with hearing impaired, autistic and developmentally delayed kids so I’ve heard a lot about ‘her kids’ over the years, some with similar traits to Cooper, others with ‘just’ hearing impairments. Anyway, I know you may laugh at this and it may seem ridiculous (I can’t even find the time for this!!), but try and do something just for yourself on a regular basis that you can look forward to – my sister is currently having a hospital stay as she has struggled with PND for a year (she has a 3 year old and 13 month old too) and she was told that! 🙂 x

  6. “I have shed more tears than I can tell you over Cooper’s speech delay. I want to hear him say mama more than I can tell you. I have even dreamt of it. I have tried to bargain with him. Bribe him. I have gotten angry and yelled. I have begged. But for some reason, he isn’t ready to talk. And no one can tell us why. I need to hear his voice. I want him to tell me about his day. And tell me about what he loves. I want to talk with my son.”

    These words break my heart. I too want to hear my son say mama and refer to me and now I am wiping my tears. Big hugs to you and Cooper.

    • Thanks lady! A virtual friend on here commented on one of my posts and said something like, ‘us mama’s with broken hearts live in a different world.’ That has ALWAYS stuck with me. I think about it daily. We do live in a different world. So glad I found your blog too!

  7. Once day you will get there! Both my boys were delayed in speech. One more than the other. They also had other delays. My oldest with motor skills, weak muscle tone, ADHD, and now epilepsy and my youngest had a social behavioral delay……probably due to the speech and his very obvious sensory processing disorder. We were blessed with a wonderful school district and teachers who are passionate about their job. I have seen one particular student who had no language, not even babble at age three and now at age 5 going on 6, he won’t stop! If you ever need another Mom’s opinion feel free to email me @ echirichiello@gmail.com and if you wish you can even write a blog for my blog or I can link one of yours for you. My goal is to get different parents’ perspectives and stories so other parents out there with kiddos like ours have a place to feel at home. Great blog! Like I said before all your stories sound so familiar as we have traveled down the same road not so long ago!

  8. Hi, have just been reading your blog. Nice to know I am not the only one. My daughter was 3 beginning of May. We have been in speach therapy for 1 year and she recently had grommets and adenoids removed. She probably says about 200words. Not that anyone apart from me can understand them. I have an older daughter who is 4 and a half who was speaking In Sentences at 18 months. Unbelievable I was almost embarrassed about how advanced her speach was when with friends whose children were of similar age. Now I’m embarrassed because my youngest does not speak and people are forever asking what’s wrong with her? Has she been tested for autisim? She is normal and developmentally where she should be in every other area although has recently regressed with potty training. (Don’t get me started on that) There are no concerns from professionals or nursery about autisim. I miss that we can’t talk and the frustration tantrums are sole destroying. I feel like she will never get there. I have really enjoyed reading your blog, it has really helped me today. I hate that I feel so frustrated with her! It was nice to be able to read about your experiences I know how you feel because it’s the same feeling I have. Hopefully Cooper and my Matilda will find their voices soon.

    • Hi there! Sorry for the delay in responding. My life has been upside down lately. I am SO glad that you found my blog. Connecting with other moms has changed my life. I still get really down about Cooper but for a while there I was extremely lonely. I am somewhere in the middle of the journey now. And the beginning was awful. Hugs mama. email me or comment any time!

  9. The tears are flowing as I’m writing this comment. My mom stumbled upon your blog and messaged me about it. Your story is incredible and really tugs at the heart strings because I can relate. I have felt absolutely alone in my feelings because I don’t know any other mamas going through it. Our daughter, Willow, turned 2 in April and we’re still anxiously awaiting her first word. Our days are filled with frustration, sadness, and guilt, but also so much happiness. We took her in a couple weeks ago to get evaluated and were told that she has a severe developmental delay. At the end of this month we’ll be setting up some appointments for a therapist to come to the house. Just within the last couple of weeks, she has started making animal noises and I started bawling because I feel like I’m getting a glimpse of what’s to come…to be able to hear that little voice will mean the world to me. While I know your son, Cooper, is older than Willow, I can relate to wanting to hear that sweet voice. I am so happy I found your blog and I’m working on a post about our journey…I’ll be including a link to your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Lots of love to you and your family.

    • Hi there! I am so glad you found me too. I can relate to every word in your comment. I am here for you mama. Email me if you ever have questions or need support. I am a bit ahead of you in the journey and trust me when I say it’s a tough one. Hugs!

  10. Just wanted to let you know, you’ve been nominated for A Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I know it takes time to do those, but you and your son, your honesty in your blog, help me so much.

  11. That video is so precious! I hope to hear news of even more improvements in Cooper’s future! I can’t even imagine never hearing your child speak. (hugs) to you – you sound like a fabulous mama. Thanks for following my blog and I hope that my series will be an encouragement to you!!

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I have no doubt that your sons will both grow and blossom into the most awesome individuals. Lots of love and positive energy to you and your family.

  13. I am so glad I found your blog. I just know I will be consumed for days until I can read everything about your journey with Cooper. I have a young autistic son (4 year old Finnegan) with apraxia of speech. Hearing about your families journey helps me feel less alone! Thank you for that! 🙂

      • I’m following you on Instagram too – you can check us out at sunshine6587 if interested. I can not tell you how emotional it has been for me to read stories from your journey so far (last night I woke up from a dead sleep thinking to myself, “damn it Sarah look at Cooper’s mom, you (meaning me) need to be doing more to help your son”. Besides the delay in speech my biggest issue is the lack of desire for toilet training. I am so tired of changing poopy diapers….. So I was wondering after reading some of your entries on constipation and toilet training how that was going for Super Cooper? Have you found anything that has helped? My son has always had digestive issues. He’s a sensory eater too – so has a limited palate. But, I think he withholds his poop yet it’s super hard to tell for sure. When I see him he is grunting, appears uncomfortable, gets red in the face and burps from the pushing. Picture this – Finn in a corner, bent over usually with his legs crossed and bent (like a bad eagle yoga pose). No one can poop all the way like that. Finn’s beverage of choice is also milk and he loves bananas at times a lethal combo/dose. We’ve tried the Miralax but I too don’t think that is the answer (plus it worries me – seems like such a big person medicine). We’ve been doing children’s gummy fibers for awhile now which help some but certainly isn’t the answer either. When the shit hits the fan – I often times have to hold him with legs bent, sometimes over my shoulder applying light pressure to his tummy. Other times it’s a Epsom salt bath or oatmeal bath. I know diet is a big deal and we are fighting that battle too. Bottom line is Autism can really stink! 🙂

  14. I am very glad that I found your blog. My son was totally non-verbal until 5, and between 5-6 maybe 10 words. And now he is 6, he has 40 words and may repeat single word after us. He is like Cooper, very social and great eye contact. Be strong, we are not alone.

  15. Thank you so much for the blog. It was a breath of fresh air just reading your posts. our son , Collin, is 5 and has regressive non verbal autism. We have the videos of him talking when he was 2 now we are lucky to get 1 word per day. Please keep the posts coming. Sorry to be short, just trying to keep up with bub 😪

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