What do you do when a child won't ..... or can't....talk? It's one of the most basic things that we need to survive in this world. Speech. Communication. So, what happens when you have a child (or grandson, in my case) that hasn't spoken a word?
Noah will be 2 years old soon and he still hasn't even said the word mommy. It's a scary thought. Right now, it's my most lingering thought. It hovers over me throughout the day, like a dark cloud, sprinkling rain, constantly reminding me.
I know, there are other things that I should be more worried about right now, like will he go to school with the "typical" kids? Will he ever have a girlfriend? Will he ever be able to live on his own? Heck......when will he use the potty?! All these things worry me. But isn't communication the first step? If he can't tell me he's hungry, how will he ever be able to tell a girl he loves her?
Now, I'm not completely disillusioned about all this. Of course, there's sign language and other ways of communicating between two people but the spoken word is pretty powerful. I feel like Noah will need this in his life. It's going to be hard enough already for him to find his place in this world.
I remember a conversation I had with a doctor when we first had Noah diagnosed. She was a young, personable doctor with a friendly voice. She was telling me about all the resources available in our town for Noah. It was at the beginning of our roller coaster ride that I call autism. I was telling her about all the things that, in my opinion, were not "typical" autistic behavior. I told her about how Noah slept well and ate well and how he would come and grab our finger and bring us to the couch to play and he NEVER threw tantrums. To me, that was not autistic behavior. I asked her how much improvement we could expect over the next couple of years with all the therapy he was going through. I wanted to hear her say he would "get better". She heard what I was really trying to ask but couldn't find the words to say out loud. I could almost hear the wheels turning in her head. Now SHE was trying to find the right words. She finally said "It sounds like your asking if he will grow out of it......he won't."
And that's when it hit me. It hit me like I had just been punched in the stomach. I realized, in that moment, that in the back of my mind, I believed he would catch up. Get better. But, she said it..... He's never going to grow out of this. He's not going to go to school one day and learn how to talk and then everything will just snap into place for him. That's not how it works.
He will always be autistic.
So, for now, we focus on communication. We hold his little hands in ours and show him how to do his signs because at least, if he can sign, he can let people know what he needs. What he wants. What he dreams.
I desperately want to know his dreams.
I've asked his speech therapist if she thinks he will ever talk. She says she thinks he will. His babbling noises are, apparently, a good sign. Non-verbal kids tend to not make any noise at all. So, now, he can sign for more and he signs the word "please". He also knows "shoes" but he only does that one with his therapist when he's ready to leave.
I still think about the fact that he can't....won't.....doesn't talk. But not as much as I used to.
He communicates with US.
WE don't ever have a problem understanding what he wants.
I guess that will have to do for now.
Patience, G-Maw, patience.
Maybe I should start worrying about the potty training instead. After all, that's pretty important too.