I hate it when I tell people my daughter is six years old and they look at me stunned. I hate that I have to just speak for her whenever strangers ask her what her name is. I hate that she can’t tell me what she wants verbally.
When I first realized my daughter was non-verbal, I have to admit that I was upset. I’m a public speaker. How could I have given birth to a child who cannot speak? Sometimes I actually have dreams where she comes to me and tells me something. It’s wonderful. I don’t know what I would do if she actually said to me, “Mom, I love you.” I think my heart might explode.
It’s important to remember when you have a child with special needs that it’s going to feel bad sometimes. It’s going to be frustrating. It’s going to be sad. You’re going to get angry with yourself and feel like a failure. But are you a failure? No, you’re not.
Sheila and I have a system now. She has learned how to sign, and she is able to communicate just as effectively as any other six year old. We enrolled her in a special school. Sure, we have our problems, but overall, she is doing well.
But last night, I realized something important. Having a non-verbal child has taught me how to communicate more effectively. I have to be very conscious of what I am saying. Now that I have learned sign language, I am a lot more aware of the words that I am choosing. Could I have foreseen that I would learn so much from my daughter? No, definitely not. But that is one of the best things about being a mother. There are a ton of surprises.
So if I could go back and have a verbal child, I wouldn’t. I love my daughter just the way she is.
To read more of this mother’s story, look for our e-book, Mother in the Mirror, coming soon in fall 2017.