DISCLAIMER: I wrote this just over 2 years ago (July 5, 2017), before the word “Autism” had ever been spoken in our house. I was reflecting on the big dreams of a first-time father in comparison to the more realistic wants of a parent hoping to hear their kid speak.
My first-born doesn’t speak. To be fair to him he actually can’t speak. He has been in Early Interventions since he was 4 months old, delayed in many aspects of his development. We’re still working towards an official diagnosis for his speech delay but all signs point to developmental apraxia (aka Childhood Apraxia of Speech). Basically, as hard as his brain might try to get his mouth to move to produce the sounds that become language, the connection is just not there.
When he was born I declared that he would be a deep sea explorer. I think my wife said he would be an astrophysicist. He was basically born into activism, having experienced Pride in SF, BLM protests, and even a Bernie rally. I love soccer (it’s football but I’m dumbing it down for the ‘Mericans) and would love nothing more than to see him silence an away crowd with a last minute scorcher. Maybe he’ll be a dancer or a teacher or a hacker. Maybe he’ll hate math and love history or be the youngest head of the house of Dior. Maybe I need to pack up and store away all of these big dreams while I focus on a more immediate and much more meaningful dream, a dream that is as haunting as it is happy.
I dream that one day I’ll wake up and my son will be able to talk.
I want to know what his voice sounds like. Is it raspy or high-pitched, confident or quiet? Will he think out loud, make up songs about food and farts? I want to be able to hear him say “I love you” and listen to him talk to his toys about life and love. I want to hear his defiance, to hear his curiosity, to hear his sadness. I want to teach him “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and listen to him read his favorite books to his kid brother. I want him to say “No!” and ask me “¿porque?” a thousand times over.
The other, brighter side to this story is that while he isn’t talking yet, he’s always been very a good communicator: using sign-language, grunting and growling, pointing/grabbing and he’s even got the “I’m ignoring you” thing down pat. There have been very few times where we couldn’t come to an understanding about what he wanted (or didn’t want). He’s silly and smart, always testing our patience and he fiends for the iPhone just like you or me. He’s our perfect little dude, born from the stars to light up our life day in and day out. Life before him feels like it was mundane and maybe even meaningless…
Yet here I am, writing about heart break and hope. I just want my son to speak.