Often there’s a perception that children who have minimal language are silent. While this can be true at times, it often can be so much more than that.
Allow me to explain.
You see Addie, there was a time I worried if you would ever communicate with us. Would you ever talk to us? Would you even talk at all? Would you always just grab my hand and pull me to what you wanted? Was this how life would go?
That was then, and this is now.
You stim. It’s just as important as breathing to you. It’s the most noticeable thing people see that perhaps gives them the inclination that you’re not neurotypical. Your stim is an image of crossed fingers rigidly moving in front of your face, and with it also comes one of the many sounds of Addie. It’s loud, distinct and can be recognized from neighboring rooms all over our house. I can even hear it outside from the front yard when you’re happily playing in the back. Sometimes it just sounds like a noise, but sometimes stimming will happen mid speech of telling me what you want or need making your words sound distorted. It can be done out of happiness, sadness, anger, or even out of fright. We, here in the Menzo Home have become master decoders at recognizing the difference. Either way it’s constant. We’ve also become accustomed as a family to talk a little louder, because we often need to be heard over these sounds.
You have words and do speak, just in your own different way. In fact, these days you are a sponge for knowledge, learning new words every day and have even started reading! Exciting times! I will say it’s indeed amazing, because some of the words are really hard! But here’s the thing, knowing words and comprehending their use are two very different things. While you do have sentences, you can say without prompting “I need popcorn please”, “I want swing please” or your latest “I need tickles” – you love to laugh, and we love hearing it…it’s infectious! Most of the sentences you speak are one to two words long. “Yellow drink,” “apple,” “tacos,” these words are often said with an inflection of a question, a apple? A tacos? Adding the inflection of a question while saying it is the same as if you were using the words can I have.
Our house holds some complexity regarding sound as well. You have a hypersensitivity to low toned sounds due to your Sensory Processing Disorder. Nose blowing, snoring, sniffing, - come to think of it maybe your just not a fan of noses…all these sounds cause you great distress. It’s like nails on a chalkboard, when you hear them you yell “Yay!” but not in a hey this is awesome kind of way, but more of a AHHHHHHHHHH make it stop kind of way! As you can imagine allergy season and winter colds make our house a ticking time bomb of triggers for meltdowns. You’d think headphones would be the easy answer. Yes, you would think that. We’ve tried and continue to try, but that too comes with its own complication of not wanting your head touched.
You’ve recently done well with large animals in person out and about (Ok we don’t have random large animals roaming around town or at least I don’t think, you were at a petting zoo birthday party), but when seeing animals on tv you plug your ears and yell “ehhhhhhhhhhh” repeatedly. We’ve realized just this week that it’s a whole different emotional meltdown when you see a moose destroying a swing set. Thanks Farmers Insurance for that meltdown. Stupid moose.
In addition to your sounds it’s not uncommon to hear you spontaneously talking about Christmas trees, Santa Claus or snowflakes – even in the summer. I can honestly say I have no idea why those particular things are referenced.
You see Addie I’ve come to realize that all the spontaneous words and sounds, in addition to stimming is your way of creating white noise to better understand and focus on your surroundings. I can ask you to do things just the same as your brother and sister, like let Ruby inside or put on your boots. Then when it seems as if you haven’t heard me (or were even looking at me for that matter), you get up and do just as you were asked.
So, our house is far from quiet and we don’t hold conversations like most 7 years might have with their mommies and daddies. That’s OK Ad, because we have something special. You might not tell me you love me on your own, but I know if I whistle you will stop whatever you’re doing to come over, try to catch the sound by tapping me in the mouth - all with this amazing grin on your face. That grin my love says, “I love you” all the same as words.
I love you Addie.