Communication and the soul


There is something happening in my personal life right now that I never really considered happening; I have a child that is developmentally delayed in communication.

This is new territory for me. I’m a little raw over it though Max-more than likely- has a very mild form of it. Today we have our first appointment with a Speech Therapist. Sorry if this post isn’t as elloquent as I want it to be. I’m a ball of tangled nerves right now.

His entire three years I have spent waiting for that magic moment that his verbal skills unlock and, in turn, unlock the secrets to this little human. I keep waiting. Every day. Hoping. Nothing happens. One of the most wonderful things about being a parent is seeing that human that you have nurtured, develop and bloom, watching with awe and fascination as the petals unfold and the personality is revealed unique and special. It’s something else.

The first thing that comes to mind, that strikes the barrier between infant and toddler, between new human and emerging one, is communication. Baby books are filled with empty spaces to enter in first sounds, first words, first names, first everythings that are uttered out of cupid bow lips. His baby book is mostly blank. I can’t help feeling the void.

For someone that revolves around communication this is devestating for me. If you’ve ever met me in person you know I like to talk, a lot. My nickname in softball was “Mouth”. My teacher once told my mom I could charm the scales off a snake and he’d be happy to give them to me.  “I like to read” is an egregious understatement. I was reading at four, my oldest son was, too. My eldest daughter is nicknamed Wee-ah because that was all fifteen month old Alex could say. I’ve been writing since I was an early teen, documenting the horrors that were my life at the time. Poems, I still have, dictating the pain of youth and much worse traumas. I write now, I can’t imagine not.

The point of all this is that my life revolves around words. They are the doors to my soul, the windows I look out, the expression in my heart. I feel as though my child, with his inability to communicate in words to me, is like a little puzzle box. There is something secret and special hidden deep inside and I cannot access it. I keep waiting.

We have tried teaching him ASL and he does, reluctantly, sign a few things. ASL is our first additional language in the home though I’m sure to others our signing is like a toddler. The majority of Max’s communicating is done with pointing and screaming. Giving me empty cups to fill instead of asking, throwing them at me when I don’t comply. Bringing me his shoes when he wants to go out, throwing them at me when I don’t comply. (I think you get the picture). Though he does say some things, somewhat clearly and kinda consistently, it is something we need to address.

This has given me new appreciation for the spoken word. How amazing is it that we, as a society, have developed a way to consistently and efficiently communication with each other? How wonderful that we have learned how to take those words and commit them to paper, to be able to read things people long dead have thought, that others that come after us will be able to do the same?

I think, verbal society as a whole, we take this for granted.

I’m confident that at some time down the line my son will be able to communicate with me either verbally or with signs, that he will learn to read those sounds that have a hard time forming in his tiny mouth. Right now, he’s playing with magnetic letters and I’m trying not to panic over the appointment. I think I’m going to go play with him.


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