We’ve all done it, told our kids to “stop talking”. Be it because we are attempting to have an adult conversation, because it’s bedtime or because we really need to hear which direction Siri is telling us to go.
Some have said it sooner then others. Some, like me, just recently started saying it. Some say it 100 times a day. Others, rarely say it.
Truth be told, not everyone says it. Ever. Because their kids never talk.
I swore I would never, ever say those words. When I would hear parents talking about how their kids “wouldn’t shut up” or yelling at them to “stop talking”, my heart broke and my blood boiled. I felt the most aching pain in my chest. I couldn’t tell if the tears I was crying were out of anger or sadness.
You see, just about two years ago, my son didn’t talk. At a year old he was saying momma, dada, dog, cat, up, down, jump, hotdog, and so much more. I thought he was ahead of the crowd with his speech, and he was. But then, around 18 months, he completely stopped talking. His pediatrician chalked it up to being a boy, that he was focusing more on his movements (walking, climbing, exploring). I begged her for a referral, she told me he was “just a boy” and to wait until at least two years old to worry.
I finally had enough, I switched pediatricians. Immediately his pediatrician gave me the referral. She agreed that maybe I was concerned for no reason but respected my concern.
He had an evaluation done through a private Speech Therapist, as well as through Help Me Grow. Immediately, Help Me Grow wanted to “diagnose” him with Autism. His Private Therapist heavily disagreed. She continued testing and according to her tests and extensive research, he has Speech Apraxia (feel free to google). Which is commonly misdiagnosed as Autism – very common as both have many similar signs.
We began therapy. I began hating, envying and despising parents who’s kids were talking up a storm and proudly showing off their communication skills via social media. Even worse, I actually wanted to punch people who complained about their kids talking or whom I heard telling their kids to shut up or to stop talking.
Many, many nights, I prayed and cried myself to sleep. I wondered if I would ever hear the words “I love you”. I wondered if I would ever be called when I was needed, if my son would ever be able to tell me when he’s hurt, what hurts, if he was happy, what his favorite color, food or shirt was. If he would be able to tell me if someone hurt him, made fun of him or if he had a best friend. I worried about how he would get through life if he never talked. How would anyone understand him? How could he possibly make it through school if he couldn’t talk and the only way he knew to communicate was by screaming, throwing a fit, or using his little body? Certainly I thought, my baby will never have friends because everyone will think he’s a bully or a bad child.
What people didn’t know, and what I’m failing to say is, that is the only way (even knowing sign language) he knew how to communicate with other people and his peers. He wasn’t (and sometimes, still) doing it to be mean. He was frustrated. He knew what he wanted to say. He is incredibly intelligent. But there’s something, a disconnect between his brain and his mouth, that was making it so he couldn’t get the words out.
Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? To know exactly what you want to say but when you open your mouth, the words don’t come? Or if they do, it comes out as complete gibberish that no one besides your mom can understand?
I used to have nightmares when I was younger where I was being kidnapped and I was surrounded by people as I was being kidnapped. I would scream as loud as I could… But no sound came out. I would scream “Help me! Why is no one helping me? Can you not hear me?!” And no one in my dreams even so much as looked at me or acknowledged that I was being kidnapped. That’s the same feeling I imagine he felt. He had all the words and knew exactly what to say, but nothing came out and there was no guarantee or estimated time that the words would ever come.
Fast forward to 416 speech therapy sessions later. He talks. A lot. Sometimes, he talks so fast, it comes out as gibberish. His mouth is still learning to produce words and sound as quickly as his brain is. 416 speech therapy sessions, plus his sessions through Help Me Grow and the work we do around the clock as parents.
That is A LOT of extra work and play for a little boy. He has fought so damn hard to get to where he is today and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
Some kids, never, ever talk. So when I find myself telling Hudson to stop talking, my heart hurts. Guilt consumes me. I literally want to punch myself. Who says that to a little boy who has fought so damn hard to have the ability to interrupt my adult conversation? Me. I do. And it kills me every.single.time. It brings me back to those nights when I would lay in his bed as he slept, telling him I love him and repeating the word “momma” in his ear, over and over and over again in hopes that if I said it enough times, he would say it.
So excuse me the next time I allow my child to interrupt our adult conversation. We are teaching him manners. But I also don’t want him to think that I don’t want him to talk. And if you do hear me tell him to stop talking, just know, my heart & brain is not with you in the following moments as guilt is consuming me. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away. I’m not so sure I want it to. It reminds me of all we (Hudson) has fought and worked so hard for.