Yesterday, my husband and I were trying to have a conversation while my son was in the room. While we discussed really fascinating stuff like “should his budding electrical company hire a journey-man electrician or get a sub-contractor?” Castle ran around the room playing. Then, he came over to get a hug that turned into climbling on and off my lap over and over again. I continued the conversation without anything more than the occassional, “What, Castle?” until finally my husband broke off midsentence wanting to know what was wrong with him.
That, of course, is a complicated question that not even the specialists have been able to answer. But that wasn’t what Daddy meant. He really wanted to know why Castle was behaving in that manner right then. At the time I didn’t have an answer. After all, who really ever knows why another person behaves the way they do. And with a child who can’t talk, you never can just ask them what they are thinking. It’s a never-ending mystery with subtle clues that only reveal part of the picture.
That night though, I thought about it and realized that Castle had probably just been bored with the conversation and wanted to turn the attention back to him. In a regular child he would have commanded the attention verbally. My good friend’s child who’s just as bright as Castle but spoke early (like most bright children) would have said, “Don’t talk to him anymore, Mommy. Talk to me.” Castle though has to resort to the behaviors he’s been using for more than 18 months to communicate the same message.
This sort of stalled behavior isn’t unique to Castle (or even necessarily to special needs kids — who hasn’t thought that their spouse seems to be stuck behavior-wise in second grade?), but it is one of those things that can be heart-breaking in those moments when they gain conscious notice. For me, it makes it feel like my kid will never grow up — that I someday will have the tallest toddler you’ve ever met. I know this is silly. I’ve been assured that someday Castle will talk, and he has in fact been making strides. But when everything seems stuck in the same developmental rut, it can be hard to remember this.
So, when I find myself getting stuck mentally in a negative rut, I try to remember all of the things my kid has accomplished in the last year. He can now:
- Walk on the tall balance beam by himself and jump off
- Interactively, not just parallel, play with other kids
- Vocally say 3 words — occasionally spontaneously
- Spontaneously write 4-6 words
- Sequence the alphabet and 1-10 in written & signing forms
- Make animal sounds
- Pretend play
- Write with a pen (this was really hard for him)
- And so much more