December 8, 2014

Say My Name

Posted in AMT's Faves, Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , at 3:05 pm by autismmommytherapist

Halloween 2014 050

It was two syllables, whispered in a hushed tone, then repeated with gusto. Nothing surprising from an eleven-year-old boy, except that this boy is severely autistic and just began speaking a few months ago. The words he’s said up to this point have mostly been echoic, uttered in response to an adult soliciting sounds from him in an effort to build his repertoire. Today is different however. The word Justin utters is spontaneous, as he has just grabbed my husband’s face with both hands, looked him in the eyes, and without being prompted has asked for me. Twice.

My husband calls to tell me. I want to teleport myself home to him. I also want a parade.

I resume watching my seven-year-old blur of a boy as he conquers the playground equipment, and my mind flashes back to when Justin was seventeen months old, and newly diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. I recall being trained to be his ABA provider becaue our home state of Virginia only provided him with eight hours a month of speech and OT, remember crouching on the floor for hours trying to elicit any syllables from him at all. He’d had a few before his first birthday, and although Justin did not have a full-fledged regression he’d lost even those slight sounds, one of which I’d been certain was “mama.”

I wish I could have known then I’d wait years, but that one day that sweet word would be back.

I contemplate how my views about his speech have changed, how desperate I once was to hear his spoken word, and now how grateful I am he uses his iPad for academics and to fulfill his basic needs. My boy and I are deeply bonded, and I don’t require him to call for me to know his wishes. I’m mostly excited that the spontaneous words are slowly coming, that in the future when I’m not there he might be able to ask a caregiver for juice, or the bathroom, or his coveted popcorn without using a device.

But if I’m perfectly honest, I will be grateful to witness that word once again, with all the meaning, commitment and love it conveys.

Grateful for the gift of two syllables.
Follow me on Facebook at Autism Mommy-Therapist


  1. Having a mini-parade for you up here in Vermont 😉

  2. Mom said,

    Beautiful word Mama. And Justin has the best a boy could have. Love mom

  3. WriteFitz said,


  4. Amanda said,

    A truly grand day… So happy for you and thank you for sharing. I too hope to hear the call for Mama. Bless you and your family!

  5. Bobbie said,

    Kim, Austin said Mommy for the first time at age 11 to a picture of me. Tears fall down my face as I read your blog and remember that I never thought I’d hear it, and that day it happen. It took months later for him to say it as a request for me. I share in your joy, and hope you know how much more is possible. Autism Mommy Club Member — Bobbie

    • Aw hell Bobbie, now I’m tearing up and I only cry at Hallmark commercials these days! Thanks for sharing that, I love that you completely get it. It’s so amazing to hear his voice after ten years, I never get tired of it! Thanks for reading!

  6. Great news. This is an inspiration to me. My 4 year old is nonverbal and I feel exactly as you did. I am grateful that he uses his ipad to try and communicate, yet I am desperate to hear that “beautiful” voice of his. I just have to keep reminding myself to never give up hope. And if he never does speak, we’ll still love him fiercly.

    • Erika, that is exactly the attitude I took for ten years. I won’t make any promises, but he didn’t speak until he was eleven. Every time he wanted something we tried to get a verbalization even with the communicative devices. You just never know. I love every syllable and never take it for granted. I will keep my fingers crossed for your son, but just as you said, no matter what you’ll love him. You’re a great mom and thanks for reading!

  7. Louise van der Meulen said,

    Beautiful Kim!

  8. My 9 year old boy, Ben, has some verbal skills, enough to express his basic wants and needs. He has recently taken to singing little verses of songs, and this delights my heart to no end! I can relate to this!

  9. Chad said,

    Another one of life’s great surprises. What a feeling that must be!

  10. Woo Hoo ~ celebrating here! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: