Until about two months ago, S bordered on being a non-verbal child. He knew a few signs… “more”, “milk” and sometimes “please”. He could also throw his hands in the air for “help”. He could say “up”, “hat”, “hug” and one or two other labeling words that really didn’t help us communicate with him. He did not say “mommy” or “daddy”, he could not say “hungry” or “hurt”, he really didn’t have any way, other than whining or crying to express what he wanted or didn’t want. This resulted in melt down after melt down and mounting frustration for all involved.
Parenting a non-verbal child is well, tough. I had another word I wanted to use, but I refrained. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see your child struggle, to see your child in pain, sad, angry, or scared and have absolutely no idea why or how to help him. Everything he wants, from something to drink, to I’m getting heat rash, to I want the ball, to I’m getting ready to throw up is not able to be communicated. This results in melt down after melt down and many a cocktail for mommy after bedtime.
About 3 months ago, S was enrolled in an early communications class through the Infants and Toddlers Program. The class meets two days a week for an hour and 45 minutes. Roughly 4-5 weeks after he was enrolled, we saw improvement. Soon, he was able to say “more”, “help”, “down”, “milk”. Then, just two short months ago, there was a verbal explosion! S now says everything from “waffle” to “octopus”, he can now tell me what he wants, from wanting to sit in his stroller, to wanting to play ball, to needing a snack.
Not to mention, I can’t tell you how awesome it is to hear two words we never thought he would say…”mommy” and “daddy”.
It is a pretty awesome thing, to be able to communicate with your child. This is something that most parents take for granted; I know that I never imagined the stress that not having communication would cause. I naturally always assumed that I would be able to communicate with my son… why wouldn’t I? I never dreamt that my child could have autism, that MY child would have a communication delay. That is something that happens to other people.
But, it did happen to our son. And, it is difficult, to say the least. S’s sudden burst of verbal communication has opened a world I was starting to think would never exist for our family.
The other day, S got a haircut (and a bad one at that). After he was done, the lady gave him a lollipop. Then, yesterday, S stood at the kitchen gate and asked for a “lollipop”. He was able to tell me what he wanted. Now, granted, we don’t keep that sort of thing in the house, so I did not have one to give him; however, I knew what he wanted and was able to offer a reasonable substitution, one that he accepted. All because we were able to communicate with each other. Just two short months ago, he would have stood screaming at the gate, while I offered everything from milk to sandwiches… having absolutely no idea that he was thinking of a treat he had earlier in the week. I can say that a ‘lollipop’ would have never crossed my mind.
There are plenty of other things too; all little things that add up to better days. From S wanting me to tickle him, to go for a walk, watch TV, color, read a particular book, see daddy or play bubbles. Each one of these things that he is now able to communicate, results in one less melt down. Less melt downs equal a better quality of time spent with each other.
Rather than playing the guessing game, we are playing actual games. We are getting to know each other better and I feel that I can better relate to him than I ever could before. Now, what else can I say about that?!