“I want to go to bed. I’m tired,” my six year old said as we tucked him in for the night. “The sky is dark,” looking out the window. “Come sleep with me,” he invited me to his bed and I happily complied. I lied next to him and closed my eyes. Of course, he had no intention of going to sleep while I was next to him. He made all kinds of noises, turns, flips and giggles. I knew I should leave but I didn’t want to. I was enjoying the gift of his speech.
A parent typically waits about 2 to 3 years to hear and enjoy the silliness of a child’s beginning stages of speech and then it quickly develops into full nonstop diarrhea of the mouth, as my sister used to call it.
I had waited six years to hear full sentences such as these. While I waited, both my autistic son and I endured much frustration. His frustration because he wanted to be understood and could not express it, and mine because, although I learned to understand his unspoken language, I knew he had to learn to use his words, so I pushed him. And he would cry and I would cry, but I would have to keep pushing.
We were not at the end of the road. We had not reached the end of this journey; and even still today we’re not there yet, I know. But that day I could hardly contain the joy bubbling up inside of me every time I heard him expressing his feelings, his needs, his motives and even his sense of humor. It gave me a satisfaction and a peace that he was going to be all right after all. And it still fuels me up with hope and helps me get up the next day to face another challenging but promising day. I treasure his words and I look forward to hearing many more.
journal entry 8/19/12