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All I Want for Christmas is a word…

December 13, 2011

I am so afraid to get excited about this. My mind is spinning, my heart racing. Today, while at her school for hearing and speech, my baby girl spoke.

She said “more.” That simple request for more colorful cereal at snack time, caused at least one of her therapists to start crying, and the other to come running down the hall to get me so I might be able to hear it too.

They told me she said it at least twice and it was clear and purposeful. I didn’t get to hear it. I was down the hall in the parent’s waiting room, because that is the structure of her class. It’s not at all that I don’t believe them. It’s just that we’ve been here before. As I hurried down the hall with all the urgency of a parent who has just learned their child was in a car accident, I felt emotions choke up in my throat. Eyes filling to the point that it we difficult to see where I was going, I tried to talk sense into myself. This might not be real. It might just be more vocal stimming. It might be just another false start.

By the time I turned the corner into her classroom, she was back to just the standard noises she’s been making, but all eyes in the classroom were focused on her. Something had happened. Maybe she really had said it. I forced the lump in my throat back down into my chest.

A voice sounds so different when it forms words instead of shrieks or hums. I want so badly to hear her voice. She said “more” twice back in August – the only speech I’ve heard since last March. Will I have to wait for months again before I hear another word from her? Will I ever hear another word from her?

A few minutes later, as I watched her dancing back and forth holding her teacher’s hands and staring up at the ceiling, she seemed separate from us again, her rhythmic rocking transporting her to another realm. The other, younger children in her class, raced over to their mothers, arms open, smiling faces, squealing, “Mama.” My girl continued her dance, silent and separate.

For something so very small to be cause for such celebration should be some sort of miracle. That we should appreciate the very smallest of miracles in life is a blessing. Somehow I find myself cursing the blessing. It shouldn’t be this hard for her. She shouldn’t have to have close to 40 hours of therapy a week to get one spoken word- to be able to tell us that she wants more food, or more drink. For tonight I will try so hard to believe that this is happening. I will not let autism steal this back from us. She can rock and flap and squeal as much as she wants. I just want to know she’s in there. All I want for Christmas is to hear my baby girl speak to me.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2011 12:33 pm

    I hope you do indeed get your Christmas wish. In a much, much less significant regard, I have this feeling often regarding my son (who is 9) and potty training. We seem to take one step forward and one step back every few months. When his school excitedly tells me of his progress, I feign excitement but inside I have what I have come to call, “Hope Fatigue.” I think it’s a protective device, and also just pragmatic. But at the same time I’m glad for him that there are people in his life that respond so positively to any progress.

  2. December 14, 2011 2:00 pm

    I absolutely understand that. My 4 and a half year old (also with autism- PDD-NOS on its way to being called Aspergers when she’s w smidge older) is still nowhere near potty trained. We can bribe her with toys to sit on the potty and then it looks like she might actually be understanding the concept, but then we can go weeks with nothing. You have to keep up the excitement for them, but I know it’s tough for you. I like your term “hope fatigue.” That describes it perfectly. I’ll be praying for you. Hang in there.

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