Autism, Family, Kids

I Love You for the First Time

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I wrote the tweet above in 2012. I never imagined I would hear those words come out of my sons mouth, but it didn’t matter because, as you know, actions speak louder than words and his actions felt to me like he was saying “I love you.”

My youngest son who is autistic is considered non-verbal. He’s going to be five this year and we’ve been communicating with him using PECS cards and basically letting him pull us around the house to whatever it is he wants or needs. He doesn’t point at things but we’ve become so used to knowing what he wants by him leading us to certain areas of the house that pointing has become unnecessary. If he brings us his shoes we know he wants to go outside, if he pulls us to the kitchen cupboard by the dishwasher we know he wants a snack etc.

But he does say words sometimes. In the last six months or so he’s started to sing along with his favorite Yo Gabba Gabba songs or count to ten with me, he can say the alphabet. His articulation and speech is that of a 12-14 month old. Most words we can figure out because we’ll hear him say it along with what is playing on TV or his iPad.

For the longest time I heard stories about people like Carly Fleischmann people with non-verbal autism who learn to write and open up a whole new world for themselves and the people around them. I hoped this for my son.

But with the progress he’s been making with speech there’s this new possibility that he’s going to communicate with us verbally someday. Mimicking what he sees on TV and the iPad are one thing, but conversing, answering a question, using speech to ask for what he wants and needs, we don’t know yet if he’s going to make that transition. And until he does he’ll be considered non-verbal.

All of that aside this post is about hearing the most valuable phrase a person can hear “I love you.”

So every night his bedtime routine is the same and before I close the door I say “goodnight, I love you” in a certain way. Well the day came, unexpected and glorious. He was standing in the living room and I heard him talking to himself saying “goodnight, I love you.” I hurriedly went to him and started saying it with him over and over “goodnight, I love you!” Through my excitement and bliss I managed to catch him on a vine saying the words I never thought I would hear out loud.

It’s very likely that he was mimicking those words the same way he mimics Yo Gabba Gabba, it’s likely that he doesn’t quite understand what exactly those words even mean. But he’s extremely intelligent and I’m certain he knows that mean something very special.

It doesn’t happen every night but sometimes after tucking him into bed I put my ear against the door and I can hear him say “goodnight, I love you.” There’s nothing more precious.

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12 thoughts on “I Love You for the First Time

  1. That is so precious and I know how wonderful it is to hear your child verbalize anything. My son, also 5, is considered nonverbal. P rarely uses spontaneous speech. He can and does mimick a lot of words, but rarely uses them in a functional way. I spend most of the day with him dragging me around by my hand, leading me to the things he wants/needs. Love that sweet boy of mine!

  2. This is beautiful, thank you for sharing!! My son was non-verbal for a little over two yrs, he mimicked sounds and a few words but did not start speaking independently until just before age 5, and it was glorious, as you know. He started off very slow at first but the more he spoke, the more words he acquired. Good luck and God bless, your son is beautiful.

  3. J.Lu says:

    How wonderful! My son is 4 years old and has always talked a lot, but not with independent conversation. He said “I love you” for the first time last week…I know you understand my joy every time I hear it. All the best to you and your darling son.

  4. 6qtpiekids says:

    I have a 3 year old with Autism & Speech Apraxia. He is completely non-verbal. We also are used to being taken here and there when he wants things, and knowing what he wants by what he points at. We do sign language, PECS, and he uses an AAC device but I dream of the day that he says anything but especially “I Love You”. For now, I am thankful for that fact that he loves to snuggle, and I feel his love for me.

    • 6qtpiekids, to add, absolutely, you know he loves you. The words are a joy to hear, but it doesn’t diminish those moments when their actions emanate love.

    • Thank you! He has not said I love you now since I about a week after I posted this, I will have to check the date on this post. So I am extra grateful that I caught it on video. But he has been saying “mamma” lately, so that is my new exciting news. :-)

  5. Helen Thompson says:

    How beautiful and amazing! My son is now 11 and he was non-verbal until about the last year or so. I remember like it was yesterday the day I heard him say “I love you” for the first time. He sounds almost just like your son when he says it and it melts my heart every single time….as I’m sure it does yours. What a great accomplishment! Your son is absolutely precious! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

    • Thank you! I hope, hope, HOPE, my son uses words to communicate someday. But until then, I get little snippets of words and phrases. I should probably update this post, as it was written a year ago. H hasn’t said I Love You more than a few times since the time when I wrote this. He does that a lot, says something for a few days and then we don’t hear it again, no matter how much we encourage it. It only makes this post that much more precious to me. I can not only remember it, but I can replay it as many times as I like. :)

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