Finding Joy, Even on the Tough Days with Kate Swenson (Ep 125)

author autism community diagnosis special needs mom Apr 06, 2022

Finding joy in our disabilities community can be tough, but it's possible!

That's why I've brought Kate Swenson to talk about her new book, Forever Boy: A Mother's Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy.

Kate Swenson, the founder of Finding Cooper's Voice and nonprofit, The More Than Project, is a mother to four kids, a wife, and a proud Minnesotan. She writes and creates videos regularly about her life as a mother and an autism advocate for Facebook, Instagram, and her website, Finding Cooper's Voice. Her book, Forever Boy, A Mother's Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy, is available now and highlights the transformation that she went through after her son's diagnosis. 

While Kate's messages are often geared toward parents in the autism community, teachers, admins, and therapists - It's for you, too! There's so much to be gained by understanding what home life is like for our students and their families. Kate does her best to share what real life looks like away from the classroom.

Her son, Cooper, is now 11 years old and was diagnosed as severe non-verbal autism and other "alphabet soup" labels as Kate lovingly puts it, but to her, he's just Cooper. The book was written with hope as the underlying foundation as it tracks the ups and downs of raising a medically complex child and most importantly, the feelings parents experience throughout the journey.

When you pick up your copy of the book, I challenge you to resist flipping to the end of the book and read the last chapter first. That's where Kate lays out all the advice to her younger self, her self at the beginning of Cooper's journey, when she needed to hear the words that could carry her through the process. Take some time today, no matter where you are in your child's life, to remind yourself that it's going to be okay!

Some of that advice lives in another part of Forever Boy, where Kate gets vulnerable and shares about a phase when Cooper was anxious and had some aggressions. Although the chapter deals with vulnerable situations, Kate opens up because of the impact it could have on another family in a similar situation. Sharing our stuggles can bring real connection with our communities, while still maintaining the dignity and respect of our children. On her social media, Kate tries to remind her followers (despite the haters and trolls) that the story of the Mom matters, and without these stories and shared experiences, people might suffer alone. There's a fine line between talking about the hard times, maintaining her positive message, and sharing what real life looks like. But it's an important line to walk!

We talked about in a pervious episode about finding a community where you fit, and how your community needs will change over time. What worked for Kate and Cooper during early childhood years, just doesn't work any more, so she felt like she didn't fit in anymore. Do you feel that way, too? Listen to me: As someone who constantly felt like she didn't fit in as I built Master IEP Coach®️ for both parents AND teachers, it helped me find my authentic self and to develop my true path.

"But Catherine, my child has a different diagnosis than Cooper. Is this book for me?" YES! The label doesn't change how relatable the stories Kate shares are for parents of all children! If you feel the heaviness of being a parent who needs to navigate in a completely different way than you ever thought, then you need to go grab this book!

Here's the best news: Kate will be back in two weeks for Part 2 of this interview with her good friend and Master IEP Coach®️ Amanda DeLuca! You will definitely not want to miss that episode, so be sure to subscribe on iTunes, YouTube, wherever you catch the Special Education Inner Circle Podcast!


Here's a glance at the episode...

[3:36] "[Hope] has to be the foundation everyday... I'm going to get to a Yes, I'm going to find a Win!"

[8:51] "I'm telling my story. The story of the Mom matters, the story of the Dad matters."

[13:35] "To see the change in him from beginning to end is unbelievable!"


Click here to listen!

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Connect with Kate:

My website: Home - Finding Cooper's Voice | Welcome to the Secret World of Autism (


My book, Forever Boy:

My Supporter Group on Facebook, Coop's Troops:

Our nonprofit, The More Than Project: Foundation - Finding Cooper's Voice | Welcome to the Secret World of Autism (




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