My dad likes to tell this story. He’s a dad, so he tells it a lot. My uncle, his identical twin, has also told me this story. Genes are powerful things.
The story is about a boy. He seems like any other boy, except he doesn’t talk. He’s two years old, then three. But he’s happy and lovable, so his parents don’t worry about it too much. By the time he was five years old, he still hadn’t said a word. Not one. Then one day at dinner, he looks up to his mom and says “The soup is cold.”
His parents are beside themselves. They can’t believe it! Their boy can talk! And so clearly! When they finally recover from the shock, they ask their son why he hasn’t said anything before. He replies “Up until now, everything was fine.”
I often question whether or not I’m making the soup cold enough for Moe. In other words, do I make things too easy for him so that he doesn’t have to communicate? About half way through his ABA program last year, we started pushing him pretty hard. The idea was to increase his frustration level so that he would need to communicate with us. This seemed to work for a while, but then he shut down. He isn’t motivated by too many toys, so we used food as a motivator. But meals became incredibly frustrating and tear- and tantrum-inducing. So we backed off, and then that seemed to work. He would tell me “more” or “all done” with signs or sometimes words. But once again, we seem to be back to more tears and less communication. I think it may be time to start requiring more from him again.
This kind of up and down and constant experimentation always makes me question if we’re doing the right things with Moe. We know that we need to keep working hard. The research shows that early intervention does make a difference. But in the back of my head I’m always wondering how much it matters – if he’s just developing on his own terms and will talk when he has something to say. When he does, I hope it’s not to complain about my cooking.