"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Little Voice

From the other room I hear my son's quiet voice singing "I'm a little teapot."  He doesn't get all of the words right, but he gets enough of them for me to know what song he is singing.  And he definitely gets the notes right.  Derek is obsessed with teapots.  He thinks anything that resembles a teapot IS a teapot.  We're talking watering cans and coffee mugs with straw...even movie cases that have pictures of teapots on them (Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast).  He carries them around like they are precious stones. 

The song, even though I hear it over and over (and OVER) again, does not annoy me.  It is sweet, sweet music.  Because my son has a voice. 

I remember vividly the day I was told that my son might never talk, and that I shouldn't get my hopes up. Between 25-50% of children with autism are non-verbal (depends which article you read.)  I decided that very day that my child would speak.  What's wrong with hope?????

Three years (and a lot of hours of therapy) later, Derek has words.  Sure, many of them are mispronounced.  Derek still babbles nonsense, he sings nursery rhymes constantly, and a good deal of his speech is echolalia (parrot-talk)--but he is speaking non-the-less.  But more and more often, Derek surprises me with something completely out of the blue.  Like yesterday, he was playing with dinosaurs and said something that resembled "Tyrannasaurus rex."  And the day before, he brought me his father's shoe and said, "Daddy's shoe."  He labels things like "shoe" and "ball" and "cup" all the time, but I didn't know he knew THAT SHOE was his Dad's.  Last Friday we watched Finding Nemo.  He pointed to the turtle and said "Turtle."  (I didn't know he knew what a turtle was.)

I'm sure my friends with neurotypical children think I'm insane.  I'll call them up and tell them Derek said this!  or Derek said that!  I'm sure they are thinking, "So what, my kid said that when he was one."  They don't understand.  I've been waiting FOUR WHOLE YEARS to hear this child speak.  Every time he says something, ANYTHING new, it still shocks me because he has been silent for so long.   

So today, when Derek came up to me and gave me a hug, then whispered in my ear "Happy," you can only imagine my surprise (and the tears that followed...)

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