One of the things about Autism that can be difficult for people to understand is how a child who is starting to speak simply stops speaking. I know it was hard for me to understand it and honestly, I am still not sure I understand this completely. Basically Autism takes their voice. I have no idea what causes this and I don't know if every individual starts out the same but I do know that some kids never get their voice back. I am also sure there are kids who never started to speak. These children are classified as Non Verbal.
While I understand that we as parents love our children unconditionally regardless of their illness or disability, having a Non Verbal child is incredibly difficult. I am not going to pretend that i know or understand how difficult it is as they get older but I am going to guess based on things I have read, blogs, articles, etc and my own little bit of knowledge from Aidan and my nephew Brayden who is currently Non Verbal although in his case he definitely has sounds, just not words. Now, other non verbal kids could also have sounds, I don't know but guessing some do.
A lot of parents with non verbal kids are still able to communicate with them. kids take their hands and place it on a door knob for instance signaling that they want the door open. Younger kids tend to lead you or push you to where there is something that they want. I am sure older kids can basically just open the door themselves and get what they want. I have read numerous articles and sayings about how we have to be the advocates for our children and speak for those that can't. I have seen the slogan that says" Love Needs No Words". Makes for a nice t-shirt.
So here is the issue for any parent reading this who does not have or experienced a Non Verbal child. Imagine yourself asking your kid these questions and not getting an answer. Not because your teenager is being rude or ignoring you, but because your child simply can't answer you.
How was your day today? How was school? Would you like to do something? Do you want to play a game? Do you want to watch TV. What program would you like to watch. Are you hungry? Would you like a drink? Do you have to go to the bathroom? Do you want to go outside? Are you feeling ok? What hurts you? How did you get that bruise? Why are you screaming? What are you banging your head on the floor or wall? I guess I could go on but I'm sure you are starting to understand what parents of non verbal children are up against. It's hard, its depressing, its scary and at times embarrassing if your in public as most people are uneducated when it comes to Autism. Its what Autism Awareness is all about. Making people aware and educating them.
Now, I can't swear that early intervention therapy works for every kid. I don't know that a child having lots of therapy with qualified therapists ranging from speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy and who knows what else will work for every non verbal kid but here is what i do know for sure. Aidan has had and continues to have (although recently been on break thanks to obamacare) lots of therapy. All kinds of therapy by some of the best therapists we could find. He gets therapy in school as well. We are very fortunate as he went from non verbal to verbal.
When he was younger my heart would break every time he was sick and I could not do anything to help him. Hell, i didn't even know what was wrong in some cases. I could tell he was in pain but no idea what caused it or where the pain could even be. I remember him in the hospital laying on top of Lisa many times and looking frightened and thought, if he could speak, I could help, If only he could tell the doctor what was wrong. But he couldn't. I remember so many times in such a few years asking him so many questions and praying for a response. And then the therapy started to work. He became a little talking machine. You can't always understand everything he says which still makes my heart break as he will repeat himself over and over and i still have to say, I am sorry buddy but I don't understand what you are saying. But last week I got a treat. Aidan was sick at school and had to be picked up. I got home from work and this was the conversation.
“Me: how are you feeling
Aidan: I am ok
Me: I heard you came home from school sick
Aidan: yes, grandma picked me up
Me: your belly hurt?
Aidan: no daddy, my nose and eyes hurt
Me: I love you
Aidan: I love you to daddy, can we play
I think every child with autism deserves to have as much therapy as possible at as early an age as possible in hopes that they can get their voice back. The organization we are trying to help support, Blooming with Autism, makes grants available directly to families to help pay for things like therapy and tools such as iPads which can help kids find their voice. Please help us, help them to raise money either through purchasing a shirt or donating directly to them. http://www.bloomingwithautism.org