It is hard to describe to someone who has not been through what we’ve been through. Today I put my three year old son down for a nap. As I opened the door to leave, he waved goodbye and said “bye.” When I waved back, he put his hand to his lips and blew me a kiss. I blew a kiss back and left the room in shock. For most other parents of a three year old, this would be like any other day. For us, this is a milestone.
Whether my son is on the spectrum or not is up for the doctors to decide. I’ve come to realize it matters very little. I want to raise a happy child—and he is such a happy child. The hardest barrier he has is a communication barrier. He has a few signs and he will grab our hands to lead us places. But you can only communicate so much that way. Before February, the number of words I would consider to be in his vocabulary would have been zero. He would surprise us every once in a while, but nothing consistent.
But over the last week or two, that has started to change. Two things are happening. First, his younger brother is starting to pick up words left and right. Secondly, after a couple of false starts due to COVID, he is going to school regularly. The love of school and the desire to do what his brother is doing seem to be combining in a way that we long hoped it would. Within days, he is waving and saying “Hi” when we come home. He will see a bus and say “bus” (his brother will then yell “BUS!” like it is the most exciting thing ever).
It’s hard to communicate the level of relief at hearing his voice. It was about 18 months ago when Henry first started saying things like “Mom” “Dad “Diaper “Doggy.” But then those words started to fade—until there were none. It happened in the first few weeks of his brother’s life—making it more difficult for us to realize what was happening. The slow burn of the unknown is terrifying—especially when the unknown is your child’s ability to function in the world.
Having him say “bye” is such a tiny thing.
But it is impossible to overstate what it means to me.
He is going to be okay.