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Thriving in the Midst of Chaos: Parenting With Special Needs Kids

Aug 13, 2020

Episode 50: Finding Special Needs Resources With Guest Contessa Louise Cooper

In this episode, we discuss having adult children with autism and developing resources for others. Guest Contessa Louise Cooper was a young mom. Her son was born at 34 weeks and had a NICU stay. She knew early on that he had special needs, but back when he was born, there were no diagnostic resources, so he wasn't diagnosed with autism until age 9. She noted that back in the 1980's and 1990's, there were no resources, guidance, therapies, or help for her. She had to trust her gut and her maternal instincts and do the best she could for her son. She chose to take him out of traditional high school and instead have him do a work-study program to prepare him for the work world. This program had him try a different job every semester. However, even working with 5 job coaches, there were no jobs available to him and the job coaches were not able to help. Unfortunately, if there were jobs available, he would have to work with another person to provide support for him, and this would lead to a significant added expense. Additionally, there is a very long wait list for jobs such as these. Contessa had just gotten her son into a weekly social outing group, which is now canceled due to COVID.

She noted that four things help her cope. Puberty allowed her son to calm, which led to a reduced number of outbursts. She lets her son he as independent at her can be. She also got to know her son very well and makes sure that he gets what he needs. She also learned to pick and choose her battles and only enforces the more important rules.

For a long time, she experienced terrible isolation. She didn't know anyone else who had children with autism. Other parents didn't want their kids to her around her son because they though their children would "catch" autism. Or, the didn't want their children to be around her son's behaviors. She also noticed that people talked about her and her son behind their backs. The saving grace was one of her son's teachers, who ended up adopting a child with special needs. Having someone that she could share everything with greatly helped to lessen her isolation.


Links for Contessa:
MAA Center
Her Website

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Show Music:
Intro Outro: Intro Outro 2 by Mattias Lahoud under CC-BY 3.0 License (
Theme Song: 90s rock style by monkeyman535 under CC-BY 3.0 License (
Self Care Song: Green and Orange No Water by Duncan Alex under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple

Disclaimer: Our show is not designed to provide listeners with specific or personal legal, medical, or professional services or advice. Parents of children with health issues should always consult their health care provider for medical advice, medication, or treatment.

Copyright 2020 Jessica and Lewis Temple