COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - For Kate and Jamie Swenson, raising 6-year-old Cooper can mean guessing games at snack time, perpetual train videos on the tablet, and bedtimes that sometimes seem to never come.
"He screams one to two hours a night. When you hear me say one-two hours, you probably think I'm exaggerating. I'm not exaggerating,” Kate said.
Cooper is severely autistic and is non-verbal. And his parents seem to take it in stride.
"People are so afraid of the word Autism. And it really shouldn't be so scary," Kate said.
It was hard when doctors told Kate and Jamie very early on they may never hear Cooper's voice.
But he's made progress in recent months, making some sounds and communicating short sentences on a computerized “talker.”
So when Kate saw an online contest promoting Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon's new book "Everything is Mama" -- asking parents to send cute videos of their kids saying "Mama" -- Kate decided to show them what Cooper can do.
On her video submission, she says, “We got one of these talking devices. And now Cooper, what's mama's name? Can you say mama?”
And through his computer, Cooper says, “Mama.”
The judges fell in love with his effort and named the Swensons the grand prize winners.
“A non-verbal autistic kid won a national contest. Think of all the people he’s educated,” Kate said.
Kate has been educating hundreds of thousands on all the ups and downs of raising a severely autistic child through a blog.
They've devoted their lives to Cooper. And want the world to know it's OK.
For winning the contest, NBC flew Kate and Jamie to New York for Fallon's book release. The kids stayed back with grandparents so the Swensons could visit NYC for the time and take their first vacation together since their honeymoon.