I Love You.

The monkey has been attending therapy since he was 2 years old, which is for about 7 years now. Before he turned three we had therapists coming to our home from ECI, Early Childhood Intervention program. When he turned three he was officially enrolled in the special education program at our local school district. Therapists would visit him in the classroom and we also would take him to private therapists.

Our evenings and weekends were booked with various therapies. Many times the sessions were rough, filled with scratches and bruises towards us and the therapists. Like most kids on the spectrum, he’d struggle a lot. What I would take very hard was when he would hurt my elderly parents. They would pick him up from school and then take him to therapy. My parents would show me the bruises, the scratches, the scars that my son would leave them. When I hear from our readers, many of them grandparents, the struggles that they face in trying to help their grandkids with autism, my heart hurts for them. I feel their love, and their pain. And I always make it a point to remind them just how precious they are, how their support gets us parents thru one more day. How blessed we are to have them.

We have tried so many things in speech therapy; PECs and communication devices, to no avail. Many times the monkey would point at pictures without even looking at them. I felt his pointing was just to get us to leave him alone. He just wanted the sessions to end.

A few years ago I went to an autism conference where they talked to us about the PEC binder. The kids from this district would carry their binders and they are able to communicate their wants. I talked to our amazing in home trainer. She created a binder with Velcro, and inside she made us PECs for our monkey. She worked very hard to include pictures that were individualized, just for him

And he hated it.

We tried so much that after a while I realized all I was doing was making him more upset and it would be pointless. I didn’t want him to hate it. And like so many other things, I simply stored them away, hoping they would work in the future. Adding that to the list of items that didn’t work.

When we started being quarantine back in March, I noticed the monkey becoming frustrated, more than usual. He would struggle to tell us what he wanted. I started using the PECs again. I called our in home trainer, asked her for some different pictures, and decided to give it one more try. But this time, I only used three PECs. I didn’t’ want to use the binder and overwhelm him.

And it worked. He realized how they assisted him in telling us what he wanted. After a while I got the binder and added a few more PECs. And then a few more. And now he has pages of them. But I started to have issues. He would use some of them so much that after a while, you can’t see the picture very clearly, they would fade. Or he would bring the picture upstairs and not the binder and he’d lose the picture. Or I was constantly wanting to add new PECs, but I would have to contact our In home trainer to request them. And the demand was starting to increase more.

My husband said these are wonderful problems to have.

I decided to try the iPad one more time. We’ve tried it before and it was terrible. But I thought why not. The first thing I realized I needed to do was control my emotions I get terribly excited and then terribly disappointed.

I bought a used iPad online. It arrived yesterday and all night I was looking for a free communication app. I figured if it doesn’t work, then I won’t lose much.

We started it today, around 2 pm. He was looking for the binder and I showed him the iPad. He’d come over and I would tell him, “Use your words.” He started pointing at them and didn’t take long for him to get it.

However I added a few more words to this one. I added the “My name is” and a picture of him. And I also added a Heart that when you press it, it says “I Love You”. The monkey always hugs us and kisses us. I was thinking why not? Let’s add words to his actions.

A couple of hours ago he asked me for a drive. He typed “I Want Car Ride” in his iPad. Of course I told him yes, let’s go

And as we are driving, he presses the heart button, the machines reads it out loud, “I Love You.” And he tries to hug me. I tell him I love him too but we can’t hug because I am driving and we both have seatbelts. He then presses it again and tries to hug me and he puckers his lips. He’s trying to kiss me on the cheek. I tell him I love him too and pat him.

Then he presses it again, “I Love You” and he holds my hand.

I have waited so long to hear him say I love you. I have dreamed of him telling me with his own words that he loves me. I know he loves me. He shows it so many times, so many ways. He will be playing by himself, run up to me, hug me and kiss me, and go back to playing. He constantly shows me he loves me.

But he had never said it.

Until now.

This communication device gave him words to tell me that he loves me. And as I’m typing this, I’m crying so much. I’m thinking of all of the therapy sessions, all of those scratches and fights, all of the times that his teachers would tell me his meltdowns were rough and how he struggled, and they’d show me scratches and bruises, and yet they were still there the next day, ready to try again.

And all of that work, lead to my son being able to express his love seven years later. A year ago I would not have dared to dream such a milestone would take place.

But I don’t have to dream anymore.

Thank you to all the therapists, special ed teachers and Paras, bus drivers and monitors, diagnosticians and in home trainers, you may not see immediate results. But your stepping stones have lead us here. I cannot express enough my gratitude.

I love you too my beautiful monkey, more than you will ever know.♥️

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