For everyone who used to follow me years ago, when I first started up my Raising Joey blog, bear with me, it may take me a while to get back into the swing of things, but I’m going to do my best to share some of my experiences Raising Joey.
Now that Joey is 10, things are starting to change. He’s growing up, he’s not my little baby anymore. Even though he doesn’t talk, he still wants to play with other children his age, in fact, he LOVES his peers. And I love the fact that they love him back. Actually, so many people around our community know him, he’s even been nicknamed “The Mayor.”
Occasionally we get the random child at the park asking, “What’s wrong with him?” or the stares, even from parents. But the best thing I can do as a parent is to help educate people, including children about Joey and other children with Down syndrome and Autism. I recently had a child ask me why Joey doesn’t talk. It’s hard to answer a question like that, do I say, “because God isn’t ready for him to talk,” or “because he’s special and it takes him a little longer to do things like talk.”
OK, I admit, having a non-verbal child, it’s painful at times. Just wanting to hear your child’s voice actually say true, spoken English language words. He does say one word, and that’s “Mom.” When I heard him say it for the first time, I bawled like a baby. It was one day I will NEVER forget.
He does have his grunts, growls, “mom”, “nnnnn” or “ack” for no, and also the occasional “babababa.” Joey also communicates via sign language and through his iPad. Although he doesn’t have a wide range of signs he does, he still always finds a way to tell us what he wants.
A good example of Joey communicating, when Joey wants to go “bye-bye,” he will either bring us a pair of shoes or he will sign “shoes.” This typically means, he wants to go NOW. Sometimes going on a quick walk down the street makes him happy but other times it takes a car ride to please him.
But then there’s the times, it’s darn near impossible to figure out what he wants or needs. These are the hard days. Or when he’s not acting right or not feeling well, my mind starts trying to figure out what’s wrong: “is he hungry or thirsty, does he not like the TV show or movie he’s watching, did his toy fall behind the couch, is he getting sick, where does he hurt, is it puberty starting?”
There is so much to take into consideration raising a non-verbal, now 10 year old child, but the one thing I keep telling myself is to be patient, that someday he WILL talk more. And until that day comes, I will cherish the grunts, growls, and hearing “mom.”