“It will come.” Three simple words meant as encouragement. Meant to give hope.
In fact, often they are received as a dismissal. As a means of telling me it’s not a big deal. Because I know this phrase is not meant in the way I perceive it, I simply smile and say, “I hope you’re right.”
What will come? Speech. Peanut is 6 years old and is still non-verbal. I don’t mean she has a limited vocabulary. I mean she is non-verbal. She say’s “No.” clear as day. She says a version of “Yes.” The rest is grunts, babbling.
These words come from other parents of children with Down syndrome. Other parents who perceive they have been down the same road. Maybe they have, I don’t really know. But often, I doubt it. Like the parent who told the story of how her son simply had not been given the chance until she was busy on the phone and he was forced to use his words. He was 5. Now he’s in college. Somehow, I don’t think she really understands my position.
After “It will come.” I get the next dreaded five words: “Have you tried sign language?” Really? I have a 6 year old daughter with speech issues and you think I have never heard of sign language? Where the first three words frustrate me, these five little words enrage me. It takes much more to remain polite. In short, yes, we have explored sign language, but that is a post for next week.
Sometimes I feel that Peanut’s lack of speech is dismissed as not a real disability. Granted, she is our third child and it’s easy to talk for her or just know what she needs and not make her use her words. But it’s more than not giving or the chance to use her words. It’s more than just Down syndrome that is delaying her speech. In addition to the complications that come with having Down syndrome, she has verbal speech apraxia that limits her ability to form words. She struggles to make the vowel/consonant or consonant/vowel combination much less form a full word.
I hope people are right. I hope one day the light will come on and one day her brain and her mouth will work together and she will be able to get out the words I know she longs to say. I hope we will one day have conversations like I hear her peers having with their parents and friends.
Until that day, I’ll have to hold on to the hope that “It will come.”