Autistic Non-Verbal Boy and His “Mama” Win Contest

Kate Swenson admits she was disappointed when the TODAY Show announced a contest that asked parents to submit videos of their children saying “mama.”   Her son Cooper is autistic and non-verbal and she feared that those judging the contest may not understand the challenges he faces achieving something seemingly so simple for other children.

Thankfully, she was wrong.

In the heartwarming video Kate shared with TODAY producers, she recalled the day doctors gave her news that she might never hear Cooper’s voice.  “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to accept,” she said.

A machine to help Cooper communicate was the first step in allowing him to express himself and…with hard work, determination and a whole lot of Mama love…Kate and Cooper accomplished what many felt was the impossible.

“No one expects to have a child with autism,” Swenson said. “It’s a confusing road. I want parents new to this journey to know that they should not give up hope.”   Kate feels strongly that autism shouldn’t be kept a secret because “autistic children are still just kids.”

Cooper Swenson

As winner of the contest, Kate won a trip to New York City to attend the launch party of Jimmy Fallon’s new book “Everything is Mama.” It will be the first vacation for Swenson and her husband, Jamie, 39, an independent insurance agent, since their honeymoon — and their first time in New York City.

A nice reward, for sure.  But, for Kate and Cooper, the reward of communication was the greatest gift of all.