Talk Amongst Yourselves

A boy with moderate autism uses words to ask for his mom for the first time.


Dusk is fast approaching, and as I swing into Justin’s speech therapist’s driveway I see a shadow rocking back and forth behind her glass door, its rhythm momentarily interrupted by the arc of my headlights as they cut across my son.

As I turn off my engine I hear Justin register his approval at my arrival, his happy “eee” cutting across the lawn as I make my way to the front stoop. He is beaming, and I can tell he had a good session by the look on his face, and the similar expression on his therapist’s.

“How’d it go?” I ask, as Justin simultaneously shoves his big red goody bag into my arms and tries to push me out the door. “Today was pretty big” she replied, and I thwart Justin’s plan by putting down the red bag, and giving her my full attention.

“While he was waiting for you at the door, he asked for you without prompting” she says with a grin, and mine matches hers, because we both know this is a momentous moment.

My boy wanted his momma, and he asked for me with words.

Justin’s been using the iPad more at home and in the community, and just a few months ago asked for me spontaneously while using the device (I was on a twice yearly shopping expedition with my sister-in-law and niece, it figures). We’ve been practicing the sentences “I want Momma”, “I want Papa”, and “I want Zach” (the last uttered sans “Z”, it actually sounds cooler that way), but to date they’ve always been prompted and repeated out of context, perhaps after teeth brushing, or while waiting for the school bus.

It’s been exciting to hear my eldest child utter a full sentence, fun to hear Zachary (the child who never stops uttering full sentences) cheer his big brother on and encourage him. To me, however, the entire process doesn’t mean much if it’s conducted without meaning, if the sounds are solicited from him when he may very well be thinking about his bed, or popcorn, or the hundredth rendition of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” that I will likely be reading to him that night.

His mother craves context, and today, I believe my son has given it to me.

Today, he waited at the threshold, was asked what he wanted, and clearly requested my presence spontaneously for the very first time. In the movies, I would have driven down the cul-de-sac immediately as the last strains of his short “a” sound drifted into the atmosphere.

In real life, it took me a few more minutes to arrive, which gave him time to make a half dozen more attempts to verbally summon me, enough effort for his therapist to make certain she’d heard him correctly. To be completely honest, I’m not sure how many people would comprehend the first two-thirds of his phrase, although with satisfaction I say that his “momma” is clear as day.

It’s taken a decade of work, but every vowel, every hard-won consonant, was worth it.

As always, I have to follow this accomplishment with what I like to call the “autism caveat”, which includes the fact that in the future he may only repeat this charming sentence on demand, or perhaps never again. Although his talented speech teacher could easily get him to recreate the experience for me now I won’t ask her to, because it’s enough to know it happened of his own will, his own ability.

For just a moment I recall that studies proclaiming that children with autism who don’t speak by four have recently been proven false; that in fact, more than half become proficient speakers, and two-thirds can master simple phrases.

Then my son once again shoves a heavy, huge red bag into my hands, looks at me with utter urgency, and propels me to the door handle. Time for this momma to cease her musings.

I capitulate to his demands and release him from this house, but I am elated at his triumph, and for a few moments I allow myself to bask in it before I contemplate what I’ll make for dinner. I hug his teacher good-bye, and follow his galloping form back to our vehicle, his own sounds of triumph at escape punctuating the brisk air. I acknowledge we just might have the start of something great here.

And as I buckle him into his seat he grins at me, and I swear he knows exactly what he’s done.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Fluke March 19, 2013 at 09:13 PM
yea no Republican official ever raised taxes in the state of Jersey.Enjoy your tea Joe or should I say cool aid
Jack Miller March 19, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Correct Fluke, they should rename the state New Tax Jersey!
Jack Miller March 19, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Yes James, your entitled to your opinion for what its worth, LMFAO!
john jay March 19, 2013 at 10:04 PM
To be correct, it is "you're" and "it's" - I guess Glenn and the other NJ teachers didn't do everything they could. Now, back to the real message of this blog - the success of Justin and autism awareness.
Jack Miller March 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM
Yes correct James, do you feel better now? LOL!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »