Sometimes, when I look at my little V and listen to him babble incomprehensibly, sometimes even repeating the same babbling over and over again, I feel like he is actually saying something, that his babble actually entails some meaning in his own head. It even has the timbre of Icelandic, as his voice goes up and down at just the right places. It sounds like he is speaking. Sometimes, he even looks me directly in the eye, while using his hands as if he is trying to tell me something. The only thing missing are the actual words!
I know he is still young, only turning 3 years old in about 3 months, but most typically developing children are able to make their needs and longings clear by this point, some even speaking in short sentences. Even JA, whose speech development was considered very slow and was even diagnosed with a speech disorder, was able to express himself to a greater degree than V does now.
It is very difficult to watch your child develop, e.g. start saying specific words and then suddenly lose that ability. One day he is pulling your hand and saying “come” in his cute little voice, and then, a few weeks later, that word is no longer in his vocabulary. Around this time last year, V was counting to ten and now, a year later, he has not yet mastered that again. It is heartbreaking to watch and you cannot help but wonder whether he realizes these setbacks himself, whether he realizes his reversed developmental tendencies. And which would be worse, him being completely oblivious or well aware of his limitations? Somehow, I fear the latter would be far worse.
After I watched the autism documentary A Mother’s Courage (which I discussed in my blog post The Sunshine boy and the Golden Hat and highly recommend for everyone), and saw how Keli, the then 11 year old autistic boy who had been diagnosed mentally disabled and with capabilities and understanding of a two year old, finally learned how to express himself. And guess what, Keli, who had been made watch the Teletubbies for years, turned out to be quite the intellectual and capable even beyond his mother’s wildest beliefs – and yet she was the only one who refused to believe the doctors!
Are you beginning to see my line of thought here? I cannot help but wonder if this could be the case with my V. Could he be a prisoner in his own body – his mind fully capable but him not being able to express his thoughts comprehensibly?
A part of V’s diagnosis was a non-verbal IQ test in which he actually made rather good results. In some aspects he was a little behind his age mates and in others he was ahead of them, all in all deemed to have a normal cognitive development – if anything a bit higher than normal. Of course, this was great news and of course, I was thrilled. It meant for increased learning abilities. However, this also made me worried because it indicated an alert mind. And yet, despite his alert mind, he cannot tell us what is going on in this beautiful head of his.
But looking at it from the bright side, he is still quite young and his intervention program will start in a few months – possibly sooner (see my last post of hope). Apparently his cognitive development should not stand in the way and he still has a lot of time to improve his skills, to learn how to express himself, how to translate the expressions of others to understand how others feel, and how to interact socially. It is still too soon to predict how everything will turn out and I guess we have to maintain a positive mindset and keep hoping that everything will work out fine. Until then, I’ll settle with him being happy – and I truly believe he is happy. After all, isn’t that all we want for our children?