When the health visitor came for Teddies’ 2-year check I knew she was a jobsworth the second she got out of her car. I knew she would have an opinion on Teddies’ speech but at the same time, I wasn’t surprised. We had received a generic questionnaire full of stupid questions that made you doubt your abilities as a parent but you fill it in nevertheless and wait for the list of things your child should be doing.
I cannot remember when I first thought this could be something more than just a speech delay. Gareth & my dad used to always say;
“once he can talk he’ll be fine”
they weren’t completely wrong but they missed out some extremely hard work in between. There is a misconception around speech & communication, one that many people have no idea about even professionals. When a person has no voice they can still communicate, however, they use other forms of communication such as body language, facial expression and behaviours. Using a psychodynamic approach to Teddie we were able to associate Teddies’ nonverbal communications to his wants and needs from an early age by closely observing his behaviours and body languages especially when he was upset and anxious. Not having a voice allows you to see past what someone is saying and see within a person, we all know how to put on a brave face, we say one thing but we mean another. For us, we saw past Teddies’ inabilities to speak which meant I could work on securing an environment where Teddie felt safe to express himself in a way we could understand and not judge him.
Even now when Teddie can talk and hold a conversation with you I see things no one else does. I see him wiping his nose constantly, I see his face change when he says certain words or when I hear his footsteps change or become louder than normal. All of these things are his way of telling me (us) something is wrong, he doesn’t have to tell us with speech he’s telling us through nonverbal communication. When this happens we have to backtrack and find the root cause for his anxieties, cos there’s always a reason why, even if he doesn’t know. It’s possible that something happened at school that unsettled him or I forgot to put his fruit in his bag, it can be something so simple to you and I but is quantified for him. Anyone of these things is enough to change his perspective of life at that time but it’s down to us to help him work through his anxieties before they manifest into something more serious.
I talk about visuals far too much, I know but I cannot stress enough the importance of them even to neurotypical children. Visuals do not just have to be still images, visuals can be picture sentence or videos. Children learn from their peers, they mirror behaviours (good and bad) and follow what other children are doing. When Teddie was 2 & half I showed him a cartoon video of how to use the potty, within 24 hours he was dry night and day. Teddie learns by example so using visuals was a great way for him to meet his developmental milestones in a way that he could understand.
Of late I am aware that all my post are always happy positive posts but that’s only because all our hard work has finally paid & we don’t need to think about what we are doing, we can just do it. This, of course, wasn’t always the case, we avoided so much when Teddie was younger because we knew Teddie wouldn’t be able to handle most situations which was annoying at times but it was what we had to do. Year’s ago we couldn’t individually leave the house, we all had to go out at the same time as it would cause Teddie to become extremely stressed & overwhelmed. We couldn’t spring something on him like we do now without him panicking although this only applies to our home life, at school Teddie needs the visuals and the consistency of routine
Fast forward to now, Teddie is a force to be reckoned with, he is my hero for sure. How is it possible to start school not being able to say a word to now receiving a wonderful parents evening saying how advance he is in certain areas? I knew Teddie would be ok but I couldn’t have hope for a more confident boy, his want to learn and soak up everything society has to offer is mind-blowing which is something you don’t generally see with ASD children. He is participating in class and wants to do what everyone else is doing, he is a superstar.
I will always be my children’s voice whether they have one or not, I will always guide them into the individuals they want to become and not what society expects them to be. Even as an adult I’m still not entirely what is expected of us, what is being ”normal? If being different is being kind, caring, funny & confident then sign me the hell up!
Never doubt your child’s abilities even when professionals tell you otherwise, focus on what’s best for them and not what fits everyone else’s expectations.
Bear, we love you and wouldn’t have you any other way, you have made us all better people for all the reasons above 🥰