As the parent of a non verbal almost 3-year-old, I worry quite a lot about his (lack of) speech and communication.
You know, simple things, such as how will he greet people if he can’t say hello?
How will he ever make his needs known to others if I’m not around to interpret his body language and facial expressions and explain them?
How will he ever make friends when he can’t join in their conversations and games?
Throughout the day my son keeps me busy enough not to pay attention to others and their children.
But when he goes to bed and I have the time to get on Facebook, watching videos of friends’ children playing away with others, babbling or talking.
Looking at pictures with captions stating how their child had said THE funniest thing today or status’ where they’ve written about a cute conversation they had with their child before bed where their child has unexpectedly said “night mummy, I love you”, it’s a harsh reminder of just how different he actually is.
Those four words, I had somehow managed to block out, I rarely thought about them.
I mean, how many other 3-year-olds told their mummy they loved them? (I kept trying to tell myself I was right there). It soon became apparent that I wasn’t right at all. The more I see other neuro-typical kids, the more I realise how much Aj ‘should’ be saying by now.
A quick Google tells you - “By age 3, a toddler’s vocabulary usually is 200 or more words, and many kids can string together three- or four-word sentences. Kids at this stage of language development can understand more and speak more clearly. By now, you should be able to understand about 75% of what your toddler says.” 200 words?!
That’s a LOT of communication we’re missing out on.
And the part about understanding makes me feel like such a failure, I can barely interpret his subtle facial expressions some days. I should be able to read his signs by now. He changes so often though it’s quite hard to keep up!
I wake up from dreams wanting to cry because he could talk in my dreams, I could hear his voice, we could play and have a conversation.
But then I woke up. Back to reality where the only vocalisation that comes from my son is crying. I worry, a lot.
What if I never hear him say “I love you, mummy!”, how will I ever know how he feels about me if he can’t tell me?
One of my Dad’s friends asked me not long ago, “When will he talk?” A simple, harmless question.
That question hit me like a ton of bricks.
“I’m not sure. He might not”, I said. And their reply? “Aww (with a pitiful look on their face). He won’t be able to say, I love you mummy, will he?” I had to reply ‘No.’
My heart ached.
Although I know worrying won’t change our future together, I still think about it, a LOT.
My son is starting at a special needs school in September, I recently spoke to their communication teacher and speech and language therapists, they’re excited to work with him.
I’m excited to see how they can help him and hopefully find a way for me to communicate with my boy.
For now, I’ll take the stream of dribble running down my arm as I write this post with my son falling asleep on me as a sign, his sign.
His sign that he loves me and trusts me to keep him safe whilst he sleeps.