by Vanessa Garcia
I’ve often heard, “You spend your child’s first year teaching them to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down,” and yes, I thought to myself, that is SO true! Until I had a child who at almost two years old still cannot walk or talk.
Having a child with special needs causes you to completely reevaluate everything and learn to appreciate all that is so magical about life. Your child won’t stop gabbing about his favorite toy? Keeps demanding a favorite movie? Won’t stop climbing the furniture? Keeps you in shape by making you chase after him? I ENVY YOU! I WISH my child would say ANYTHING at all that is coherent. I WISH my child could run and explore his little world. I try not to dwell, but I do have days where I hold Braxton while he is sleeping and just cry thinking about all the things he should be doing but isn’t. Or cry thinking of how far he has come.
Of all the things I wish he could do, I wish he could speak.
What I would give to have Braxton look up at me and call me “Mama,” or walk up to me just to say, “I love you.” I don’t know if that will ever happen. I believe in my heart and hope with every fiber of my being that he will, but at this point I just don’t know. He is babbling and making lots of sounds, but despite all my efforts, none of those wonderful sounds will form in to the magical words I’m longing to hear. I know he loves me, without a doubt. But there is really something special about hearing those three little words.
What happens when your child doesn’t have the words to say what you want to hear? You have to learn to read his signals instead. The eyes can truly say so much. There are times I play with Braxton, or catch his attention and he makes eye contact with me. His little eyes light up and a smile flashes across his face and my heart melts.
There it is. That’s my “I love you” and it is ever so special to me, even though he can’t yet say the words. I can feel it. I feel it deep within my heart. One day, he WILL say those special words, and that day I may not be able to hold back the tears or ever forget that moment. That is one moment I will hold on to for all eternity.
Until that moment comes, we cherish every day and learn to communicate by taking our cues from Braxton. We are open to the possibility of Braxton needing an assistive technology device to speak to us. We are also taking sign language classes so we’ll have a definite method of communication should Braxton not learn to speak, or should his communication device not work if we take that route. Communication is fundamental, and it’s important to us to be able to communicate with Braxton by any means necessary. I’m very excited to be taking sign language classes and hope with all my heart Braxton learns to speak or sign very soon.