If you live in an autism household, you probably have some sort of routine. For everything. Autistic kids are firm believers in routines and lord help anyone who stands in the way of following it.
We have several routines. In the morning, Littlest gets up and has to be carried downstairs. For now I can still lift him because he’s six. But this may become an issue in a few years. He then has juice and cereal and watches the noggin app on his tablet. He’s all smiles until it’s time to get ready for school and then he screams his head off. He usually remains pissed until the bus shows up and then he holds my hand and hops all the way to the door. I give him a kiss and I tell him to have a good day. Then I tell him I love him, to which he replies:
“See you tomorrow”
Yeah. See you tomorrow. That is always his response to I love you. To say that this breaks my heart, is an understatement. He has said I love you before, but never consistently. And I know that he does love me. The way he smiles when he sees me and the big bear hugs he gives me tell me that he loves me, even though he can’t physically tell say it.
This all goes back to routines. At bed time, he jumps in his bed and waits for the blanket to be fluffed out on top of him. He gets extreme joy out of this. He then gets tickled for a few minutes, given a million hugs and kisses and then we say:
“Goodnight. I love you. See you tomorrow.”
He used to repeat each phrase after us. But now, he only responds with see you tomorrow. We try to get him to say I love you, but after a few prompts he gets frustrated and we don’t want to do that to him. So we let it go. But it still stings. We love him so much and we get immense joy out of every word he utters. It’s taken so long for his little voice to come out that we get super excited when he says anything. He could probably call me a bitch and my heart would swell with pride.
Having a nonverbal child is such a sad and frustrating experience. Watching my son struggle to communicate breaks my heart. And enduring his meltdowns because of said frustration is in turn, frustrating. I wish so much that he could just tell me what he wants. How he feels. What he thinks. I know he doesn’t do it intentionally and I can sometimes see how hard it is for him and as his mom, it just crushes me. I so desperately wish that I could wave a magic wand and give him a voice.
But the reality is, that I can’t. All I can do is encourage and support him. And do whatever I can to fight and advocate for him. Be his voice. And hope. I do a lot of hoping. I hope that someday my sweet boy will find his words and I will finally be able to enter his world.