The truth about talking
I’ve been super braggy here and in real life about Aidan’s success with his talker because it has been life changing and long coming. I’ve gone on to tell other parents, “you can do it” and “start here.” I’ve shared that Aidan is sending me text messages from school when I’m sitting at Starbucks. That was probably one of my favorite moments. It came maybe a day or two after having to have a little talk with Liam about his use of Twitter during school hours.
All of that is the truth. But here’s the other truth, Aidan doesn’t have a perfect pointing finger. He doesn’t always hit the button he intends. He doesn’t even really have the stability to hold his hand up to use his talker. My hand gets used as weight to hold him still. The reason I know I’m not pushing buttons for him is that he’ll grab anyone’s hand to stabilize himself and talk. And sometimes I am pushing the buttons for him. “You pushed ON but I’m wondering if you meant EAT?” Quite often he has tiny seizures as he reaches for his words and he pushes buttons before he can pull his body back together.
And those texts? Well, they make no sense and he doesn’t do the actual sending. It usually starts with me or his teachers asking if he wants to send someone a MESSAGE. He chooses from the limited family members listed on his talker, plunks out some words and then we push the appropriate buttons to send it on its way. Often there is verbal conversation in between that the receiver of the message will know nothing about. Do you want to tell Joshy what you did today? WALK. Do you want to tell him how you feel? TUESDAY. What else do you want to say? DRINK. I can’t necessarily make heads nor tails of it so I suppose some people could consider it to not be functional communication.
Aidan’s talking has maybe not been all that I’ve made it out to be. Some may say he’s not as successful as they thought. And it’s true that in my celebrating I’ve unintentionally left out the details, the challenges, the tiny steps to success. I’m ok with that because we generally hear way too much about how hard it’ll be for our kids to communicate.
But if you’re on this AAC journey too, know that it hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been quick, it hasn’t been consistent. Progress has not marched forward in a steady line and sometimes his talker sits quietly unused by any of us.
And this – this is the message I received while sipping my coffee believing my kids to be learning at school while one was on social media and the other had something to say – HI ON TOAST I LOVE MOM. No idea what the backstory was there or what he wanted to say or how much prompting he got to say it. Who cares and how could I not love that?
So yes, I celebrate and details be damned, I will shout from the mountaintops – MY KID HAS WORDS!