How my sons inability to speak is tearing our relationship apart.

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This is something I have never written about before or admitted to anyone, but I have always struggled with my relationship with my son compared to his sister. I don’t love him any less nor do I favour one above the other but there is something that prevents me being as close to him as I am to his sister: his inability to speak.
The older he gets the more it is literally tearing us apart and that breaks my heart.

We are both trying, we are determined to try and overcome this but no matter what we do it is always there lurking like a dark shadow.

We play together, we ‘read’ together (well I read to him!), we share games and we eat together but it is incredibly hard to reach into him when he is non verbal. That breaks my heart. Having no spoken language at all really affects my son so much.

Having no language at all at almost 8 years old has forced him to be more independent.
He can’t ask for help or even ask for something to eat. So he uses his physical skills to open the fridge and help himself or open the front door and take himself out. The other night he took himself to bed because he was unwell. He has in the past brought me a cup or a bottle of juice and I have found him sitting at the table with an empty plate in front of him too. I would love to be able to hear him simply say ‘mummy, I have a sore head.’ Or ‘can I have something to drink please.’. He won’t always have access to the bottle of juice or cup to let others know what he wants.

Having no language is making him frustrated and angry.
imageI know if, like his sister, he could talk about his day at school and let us know what has upset him we could help him calm down and share his day with us. When he looks at a box of toys and points it is incredibly upsetting for him when we continually have to guess what it is he wants and we frequently get it wrong. He gets upset at certain programmes on the television but has no way of telling me why so he gets angry instead. He finds open doors highly distressing but has no means to tell me why so instead he becomes frustrated and violent. Speech would help us resolve all these issues. Some will be quick to suggest sign language or picture communication but these are so limited and his inability to make the right sign or find a relevant picture just make him even more angry and frustrated.

Having no language means he is at the mercy of others to communicate on his behalf.
Could you imagine having a wonderful holiday, printing out all your photographs and yet someone who wasn’t even there with you decides to tell everyone about YOUR holiday without allowing you to say a word? I am certain you would find that irritating and annoying and you would become very cross. This is what is happening every single day when I send my non verbal son to school. Adults dictate what information I receive on my sons behalf and tell me (if I am lucky enough!) about the experiences he has had. It’s not what I want. It’s not what my son wants either! He wants to be able to tell me about his day, his way! When I pick my daughter up from school she tells me about her favourite pencil breaking, the games she played at playtime and the funny shaped banana a child had in their packed lunch box! This is life from her perspective and something I can never ever get from her brother. A huge chunk of his day is a mystery to me and he has no language to enable that gap to be bridged. Have you any idea how difficult and heartbreaking that is for us both? It rips our relationship apart.

Having no language is life limiting for him.
He will never be able to read to me, or to anyone else. He won’t ever be able to use his voice to tell a joke or share a story. He won’t be able to sing or even give me cheek. As he gets older he will not be able to use his voice to ask a girl out or even say ‘I do’ on his wedding day. Asking the price of an item in a shop, asking directions, even telling the bus driver where he wants to go are all going to be difficult if not impossible. He is likely to need someone with him to support him throughout his life. Using a telephone is never going to be easy and connecting with other people will always be much more complicated.

We have tried alternative methods of communication. We spent years trying makaton but he can’t manage the signs himself and is struggling with picture communication too.

I know if he could speak so many things would be different. I know if he could speak we would be so much closer. How do I know this? Because he has a twin sister and my bond with her is strengthened every single day through language. She tells me about her day at school, her worries, her achievements. We play together and I join in her games because language enables us to play together. She reads to me and with me. She can tell me what she wants and I can listen. She shares her emotions, her ideas; her life with me through talking.

The more she talks to me the more we bond. The less my son is able to say the communicate the more our relationship is strained.

I am working on my relationship with my son every day. We have a very special bond and a deep love but there remains an invisible problem between us that is tearing us apart: the fact he is non verbal.

If I could change anything it would be that he would one day be able to speak to me. If only love could make him talk…

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12 thoughts on “How my sons inability to speak is tearing our relationship apart.

  1. If love could make him talk he’d have been chattering in whole sentences well before he was two! Don’t give up hope of finding a way for him to communicate, eight seems like a lifetime but there will be a way, he just hasn’t found it yet. Think of Carly Fleischmann and she was in her teens before she learned, but new technologies and apps happen every day.

    I think there will be a day, and your boy will let you know exactly how wonderful your love and patience has been, and how grateful he is every day that you never give up.

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  2. I can imagine in a very limited way how you feel. I am a special needs teacher of 8 students with autism, all of them non verbal or severely limited verbally. It may not be feasible, but my suggestion would be to look into an iPad app for speech. I know that they can be very expensive, but the one I use with most of my students is Talk Tablet. It’s under 100 dollars US and is made for both Mac and pc, and uses pictures and words and can speak the words when touched. I am amazed at how quickly my kids learned to navigate it. I know it will still limit actual conversation, but it does cut down on frustration for my students.

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  3. Reading your post makes me realise that even though my 8 yo daughter can talk, albeit in her own very delayed way, it’s actually really similar to your experience. I am so grateful that I can hear her say mummy or tell me she’s hungry but actually knowing what’s going on in her head is impossible. I have a book that school write in daily to tell me some things but she can’t tell me herself. It’s just too difficult for her. She freaked out tonight over a book. Why? I don’t know. She reverted to animalistic screaming and flinging her arms around. She was so distressed. But she could not tell me why. So we are lucky in one way, but in another I can feel some of your pain. And now I’ve made myself feel all sad 😦

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  4. My son is 5 now, and is like your son also. I have 2 other older children, who can talk, and it really does make a difference. I take one day at a time, but his aggression is also getting bad now, he cant help it, he just doesnt understand, nor do we. We will never have sign etc either, he will never be able to understand any of them. I try not to think about it to far ahead, or i think i would just sit down and cry 🙂

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  5. May God bless you and your beautiful son. Please find a good homeopathy doctor and seek help for him. I bet he will start talking in 2-3 months. There is blockages in the brain of kids as such and homeopathy clears the block. Please don’t take this suggestion lightly. I am talking from personal experience.

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  6. Thank you very much for this post. It’s a difficult life we have as parent’s. You have helped me become more in-touch with my feelings because I could read your’s.

    Liked by 1 person

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