MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the biggest challenges facing those with autism is learning communication skills.

Fraser helps with speech therapy for people of all ages.

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Jennifer Jenson of Columbia Heights knows firsthand what a big difference the program has made for her 8-year-old son, Cooper.

She had never heard of autism when her son Cooper was diagnosed five years ago.

“You feel kind of lost,” Jennifer said. “You don’t really know what this is.”

Cooper and Jennifer Jenson (credit: CBS)

Cooper has been through years of therapy at Fraser and made vast improvements, according to his speech pathologist, Laura Nathan.

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“My favorite part of my job is kiddos exactly like Cooper,” Laura said. “We talk a lot about our emotions … How am I feeling in this? How do I recognize feelings in others and myself?”

Cooper is now able to carry on conversations, but his mother explains it was not that long ago where he could only repeat what he heard instead of communicate a response.

“He could repeat 10, 15 minutes worth of [a] movie he’s seen but he couldn’t communicate ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ to me,” Jennifer said.

The simplest pleasure of being able to communicate with her son is not one Jennifer takes for granted.

“I know where he began … and I’ve seen all the struggles that we’ve had to get where we are,” Jennifer said. “He’s such a happy boy, I’m just so proud.”

WCCO is Pulling Together next month for Fraser. Nine teams from St. Paul and Minneapolis will go up against each other in a tug-of-war across the Mississippi.

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Each team needs to raise $10,000, with 100 percent of that money going to Fraser. Click here to pick which team you want to support!