I often feel that parenting Charlie is a lot like those games they used to have at Chuck E. Cheese. You’ve got a mallet in your hand and you’re supposed to hit some little critter–maybe a gopher?–as it pops out of the ground. As soon as you’ve bopped one into submission, another appears. Bop that one, and there’s another waiting. With Charlie it seems like that. In the beginning it was eating and head control. After that it’s sitting and solid foods. On and on it goes with specialists, therapists, and parenting books constantly presenting you with another worry or goal.

These last couple of weeks I’ve really had to face the fact that Charlie isn’t talking and it’s time to do something about it.

I feel fairly certain that this will not be an easy activity. You see, Charlie has pretty much no interested in communicating anything other than happiness or displeasure. As far as he’s concerned, those two emotions are enough to get most of his needs met.

We’ve taught him a few signs–he could actually sign “more” before his first birthday–but he doesn’t like you use them. We’re starting to push. Our goal is to add a new sign to each week until we’ve got most of the basics down. Last week we worked on cup. This week I’d like to work on “movie,” but that’s more complicated, so I’m not sure how it will do.

It’s just hard for me to accept that this isn’t something that he wants to work on. I think I’m OK with the idea that he may not speak–the idea that he doesn’t want to is hard. It’s hard for me to accept the amount of work I’m going to have to put into it. It’s hard for me to accept that he may be five or six years old before he has a good way of communicating with me–or longer. Even worse is that he doesn’t seem interested in communicating.

So I’ve been grieving a little bit. Wondering if I’m doing enough or doing the right things to help him. Wondering if I’m holding him back. Wondering if there’s something I haven’t tried.

But I’m also doing the only thing I know how–making a plan. That’s the only way I ever get over this stuff–focus on the stuff I can control.
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  1. yup and yup. these kiddos will do what they want when they want to. adorable pirate charlie! drake went as a pirate, too. :)

  2. therextras says:

    making a plan – a very good way to cope.

    Looks like he is communicating his needs (if not verbally).


  3. Katy,
    I can really appreciate this one! You are speaking to me lately! Thanks for that. Also thanks for the help over at ABR support. Just having you remind me of the WHY in the neck exercises has inspired the WANT TO in me again!! I am making sure I get those done to Emma's neck daily because I get it! Thanks for that!

  4. beauty obscure says:

    Maybe some of the info on their for helping kids with autism communicate would be of use for you. For some kids with autism cultivating a desire to communicate is a huge barrier to overcome. These kids need to be REALLY REALLY motivated in order to communicate.

  5. beauty obscure says:

    and by "on their" I mean "out there" it's definitely bed time.

  6. MeghatronsMom says:

    PECS! (picture exchange communication system) Maybe he will want to make his own choice & give the words to you. If you are interested, I have some wonderful ideas on how to use them & keep them up over time. It might be worth a shot, especially since signing takes a lot of motor control.

  7. My nephew spoke late. Eventually it came down to the fact that his mother gave him everything he needed without any need for verbalization. He pointed or screamed and she gave him what he wanted. He started talking when she started making it necessary to get what he wanted.

    My stepdaughter is also a lazy communicator – at 4. Eventually, I just said to her… you need to say what you want. Pointing is not good enough.

    It could all be due to his disability but I wonder if something more isn't playing into this just like it is for some of the 'normal' kids I know.

  8. Melio (MelissaInk) says:

    Sounds like a pretty "typical" kid thing to do.

    My older one said like four words at two … and instead of saying Mama, he said NaaaaNaaaa (so, I'm not sure that even counts). Less than a year later, he said plenty.

    He refused to learn his colors, so I gave up trying to teach him. A few episodes of Blue's Clues six months later, and he knew all of his colors.

    My younger one is 16 months and doesn't walk. Doesn't care.

    Sometimes they just do things when THEY are ready and not a moment sooner – whether you like it or not.

  9. Katy, I feel your pain, hon! Faith was 4 1/2 until she started showing interest in communication to others. I had resigned myself to the thought that she wouldn't speak and may not sign or anything else. Then one day she surprised me and started signing! Don't give up on the idea yet, he may still be working on the bigger things. We used to have dr's ask us how we knew what Faith wanted. We just knew. We had our own language, but now she has over 50 signs and is begining to try to say some words. Here's to hope, Katy!

  10. I tend to agree with Billie.

    It's like reading. When you had to sound out each word, reading was absolutely no fun. As soon as you started recognizing a few words, reading became fun and your learning snowballed. Communicating is an effort when you're still learning how to do it – especially if your have hearing or muscle issues. (Magnus is also not talking much yet, BTW.)

    You're doing absolutely the logical and right things.

  11. blogzilly says:

    I totally get where you're coming from. Obviously I share your doubts, fears, and all that, and I am not nearly as evolved as you on this whole journey. But I have hope, for Charlie, for Bennett, for all of us. Some days I can barely touch it, but it's there, somewhere.

    Now what I need is YOUR strength…and ability to cut through the bullshit and just make a plan. I admire that about how you live your life and how you choose to be a parent to Charlie.

  12. Wherever HE Leads We'll Go says:

    I completely understand. For us, it is the physical stuff. Emily doesn't roll over, she doesn't sit, she doesn't hold up her head and she shows very little motivation to do these things. I am not home with her and that makes me nuts. I want to be home, but even if I was, would that make a difference? Who knows!

    You are doing a great job with Charlie! He is an amazing kid. I know you will come up with a great plan and in time he will get the hang of communicating in one way or another (things never happen in the time frame we would like do they?).

  13. Wack-a-mole! That's the game. Mole, not gopher. Making a plan always makes me feel better. I'm sure Charlie will communicate some way when he's ready.

  14. Aw I understand Katy, I grieve for what Jude cannot do. Although I am SO impressed that Charlie can sign, and I HOPE that Jude can as well. I need to study that signing book for sure. You always inspire me :)