This week my baby turns 12.
As we celebrate his last year as a preteen, I want to share with you our journey with words.
Words have always been an issue for us.
For so many years we had to fight for words, he would learn something and regression would set it and it would be gone.
It was heart breaking.
He would learn a word, he would use it every time without fail.
Then within a month, poof, simply no connection.
It was as if he never knew the word.
Strangely, he still remembered what it was for, he just could no longer come up with the name.
For example – he learned the word cup, he new what it was he even had a favorite cup, He could ask for a cup, then one day he just couldn’t say cup.
He still knew how to use a cup. He even remember which one he liked the most. He just couldn’t call it a cup. He spent a lot of time pointing, grunting and leading me to what he wanted or needed.
Each time this would happen we started again.
He would relearn the word.
This happened with Every. Single. Word.
Only to have it happen over and over.
It took forever to learn any word and make it stick.
When I took him to doctors they said this happened often.
It will get better.
Just give him time.
Well meaning friends and family said, it happens, don’t worry my (insert relative friend etc name here) didn’t speak until they were 3 or 4 or 5.
I listened, my husband listened.
We didn’t want to believe there was a problem.
Looking back, I feel horribly guilty.
I knew in my heart something was wrong.
Before I left the hospital when he was born, I knew.
He was my 4th birth, I had a pretty darn good idea what to expect from a newborn.
I asked them to check him.
I was told, you are new mom (after 3 kids? really?).
Each baby is different.
I KNEW, and I didn’t want to believe so I didn’t.
I let them decided.
I let them tell me I was wrong.
Because I wanted to be wrong.
I didn’t want anything to be wrong with him.
I wanted him to be as perfect as his brothers.
I wish I had listened to that inner voice.
I wish I had not wasted that time when I could have had him in speech, or working with other therapies.
I can wish all day, I can beat myself up it won’t change what happened, ever.
Still I wish.
At almost 4 a friend of mine took at look at my little wild child and said, “Have you considered he might have autism?”
I am going to tell you the truth here.
It NEVER crossed my mind.
Not even once.
Even though I had always known something was wrong I never once considered autism.
I didn’t know anyone with autism.
I had no idea what it was other than a vague mention in the back of my head of a child who sat in a corner and rocked all the time.
After a butt ton of research, I found a new doctor for him, then another, and another.
I had him tested, and poked and prodded.
Still it was so hard, since he wasn’t that kid who sat in a corner and rocked.
We had worked through so many of the early symptoms, the not liking to be touched, not wanting to interact, we pushed until he played more in our world than his.
They didn’t want to give him any label.
Still I pushed.
Finally, I found a doctor, who then said it looks like autism.
We then decided to try speech therapy.
A friend of the family recommended our amazing speech therapist and slowly, she taught him and she taught me.
Together we went to speech.
She taught him to talk, she taught me to teach.
I sat there for ever class.
I am sure I learned way more than he did.
Why I did this was simple.
I knew if he needed this I needed to learn it.
He learned, I learned how to continue it at home.
Eventually the words stopped getting lost.
Jump to the last year.
Several things have happened in the last year that frankly, I wondered if they would ever happen.
He finally started speaking in more than 2 word phrases.
I now hear things like “I would like a soda please.” instead of “Soda please”, or point and grunt.
He can now tell me “My tummy hurts”, instead of suffering in silence.
He will now say “It’s my turn”, he now understands what a turn is and can take and let others take their turn.
All because he has words and a voice.
He does CHORES!!! While it might not be much, he can make his bed, change the sheets and and put the blankets on in a neat fashion.
He can load and start a dishwasher, as long as he doesn’t have to pre-wash anything.
He can even help with laundry, which is more than I can say for his dad. 😉
This weekend was his birthday weekend.
As part of his food issues he doesn’t do cake (or cookies, or any sweets except gummies).
So instead of a birthday cake.
He had Birthday Pancakes.
Every year prior to this, lighting even a single candle with start a meltdown.
This year we not only put a candle in the middle of his pancakes, he stood there smiled and let us sing Happy Birthday! He even sang along!!!
Then he blew out the candle and went back to playing with his building game.
It was short.
10 minutes at most.
However it was the most birthday he ever let us have.
It was amazing.
I cried, and cheered and he probably thinks I am nuts. I am so that is okay!
It was his BEST BIRTHDAY EVER.
Now you know a bit more of our journey with Zach and to find his voice.
You understand a bit more when I post on facebook about how my 12 year old cursed at his video game and how thrilled I was to hear it.
Why I long for the day when he talks back to me.
Most of all you know a little more about autism.
Come visit me on Facebook.