Please, Tell Me!

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“Bobby!  Go get your soccer stuff on!  We have to leave for practice soon!” I called up the stairs as I looked down at my watch.  I was going to make sure of one thing – tonight, we were not going to be late.

I walked from the stairs, down the hall into the kitchen.  I heard the bottom drawer being opened, which only meant one thing.

“Declan, do not climb onto the counter!”

I got there just in time to pull my 3-year-old baby off the counter and placed him back on the ground.

“What are you doing?”  I asked.

Declan grunted and pointed to the counter.

“Pizza?  Do you want some of the pizza that was just delivered?”

His look said it all.  The boy wanted some pizza.

“You have to say it.  Tell me what you want.  Say, PIZZA.”

Declan screamed and shook his hands.

“It’s okay,” I said.  “Just say, PIZZA.”

I knew he could get this word out.  Pizza was one of his favorite foods.  It’s frequency in our house led to quite a familiarity.  And he had succeeded in this word drill in the past.

“Take your time… Pizza….” I coaxed.

And with a bit of a slur, Declan declared, “Peeetz.”

“Yeah!” I extolled.

I took a piece of pizza out of the box and placed it on a plate and gave it to Declan.

Declan took the pizza and stopped.  Then he screamed.  His face scrunched up and turned red.  Great big tears formed.  He looked up to the ceiling and let out another howl.  He took the plate I gave him and threw the pizza face down on the ground.

“What?!  What is wrong?!”

And he screamed.  And he cried.

And then I started crying.

I picked up the pizza off the ground and put it back on the plate.  I reached for a towel and wiped up the sauce on the kitchen floor.

What did he want?  He asked for pizza.  I was so confused.

How many times had this happened that month?  That week?  THAT DAY?

The screaming.  The crying.  He had such few words.  I was lost trying to help him.

It broke my heart that I didn’t know what he liked, what he didn’t like.  What he needed, what he wanted.  I wanted him to tell me things.

I wanted to know his favorite color.

Declan wanted me know, too.  He was frustrated.  He was sad, mad, angry.

He couldn’t tell me if he dropped his toy when we went for a walk and I didn’t see it roll away.  He couldn’t tell me the sound was too loud in the car.  He couldn’t tell me if he wanted the pizza or not.

So we cried.  We were physically so close together, yet there was a huge communication gap between us.

I gathered my wits and put the plate of pizza on the counter.

Declan took the pizza off the counter.  He looked at it again and cried.  He started pointing all around the kitchen.

I wiped my cheek and tried to follow his finger, “What?” I asked.

He closed his eyes and out it spewed.

“Cook it.”

I stood there for a moment with my mouth open.  My eyes wide and a smile formed.

“Ah -ha ha!  Cook it!  Yes, I can cook it!  You told me what you wanted!  I KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!!  You used words!” I got a new slice of pizza and put it in the microwave.

Declan had a smile of relief.  I picked him up and hugged him.  And knew things were going to change.

Declan has been in speech therapy for almost 3 years now.   He can tell me all sorts of things.  I love to hear every word he says.  But my favorite thing he has told me?

“My favorite color is orange.”

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36 thoughts on “Please, Tell Me!

    1. You’re right! Declan’s loss of language can be typical on the path to an autism diagnosis. To anyone that is just starting that journey, that is what I would say to them: There is hope 🙂

  1. Oh my, the frustration! Ben is still verbally limited. The latest “who’s on first” routine we have is Ben says “need help” we ask help with what. Ben says “fix it” we ask what needs to be fixed. He says “need help” and around & around we go. Sometimes we can get him to show us, sometimes we all end up frustrated & whatever he wanted still undone. At least he asks for help now so we have faith that communication will continue to improve.

  2. Tyler’s favorite color is orange! Home Depot Orange to be correct. A few years ago we had to move to an apartment (we lost our home) and Tyler’s sister kept asking Tyler what color he wanted his new room to be. He ignored her for months…and then one day answered her “Home Depot Orange!.” So we went to Home Depot and got a bucket of that color and made a bright stripe around the top of his room in Home Depot Orange. 🙂

    1. Home Depot Orange! That’s great! I think I will be saying that in my head every time I look at the color orange now 🙂

  3. My favourite colour is orange too! It must be so frustrating not being able to both explain and comprehend things. I had no knowledge at all of autism before reading your posts. Last Saturday I saw my step daughter who lives 400 miles away from us when we went to a family gathering. She is in her 40’s and a nursery nurse, she was telling me she was doing a course on Autism and was surprised by my knowledge which I have learnt from you. She was saying that so many children have it in some form or other but it is never diagnosed. You have certainly done your bit to bring it to attention 🌹

  4. Congrats Robyn! Hang in there. There’s so much hope right there. You didn’t give up and he didn’t either. That’s what it’s all about😉 Success! He likes hot food, bottomline😄

  5. I agree with your little man, cold pizza SUCKS! Microwave it to make it better tasting. At least he got the words out eventually!

  6. Wow, you brought tears to my eyes I could feel his dismay and frustration, and a smile at the end. What a beautiful story. You are doing great Robyn. You were very patient with him to the end, God bless you your heart. And God bless Declan. Keep it up, you’re doing great.💝

  7. Oh golly, it’s the same with my two year old. I feel so frustrated at the end of the week coz she just not using words. Not even, mummy or daddy. The worst is she is a climber, climbs on everything that I would nevet dream a child could do.

    1. Gosh, I remember those days. They were really hard. Not being able to communicate and I couldn’t leave Declan alone for a second bc, like you said, he would get into things I never dreamed a child could do. We had to remove all the chairs from the house as he would use those to climb up on things. All of our dresser drawers were removed as he would pull them out to climb to the top of dressers. But it does get better. Our chairs and drawers are back now. Thinking of you and hoping for some communication and safety awareness with your daughter!

  8. I cried at this post..😔..this was deja-vu all over for me..trust me..believe,believe,believe,Declan will speak a whole lot more in time..Jayden didn’t mutter a word hardly at 3..speech therapy really reinforced this and his school and being surrounded with other kids definitely helps..one day he couldn’t talk the next day we are telling him to stop talking practically,remember faith can move mountains..xxx

  9. Words fail me. I do not think there is a way for me to tell you how much I admire both you and Declan. Verbal communication is something we rely on so heavily. I am happy to hear Declan is now able to communicate more. Faith is the greatest support of all in times of difficulty.

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