From a Mother’s Heart: My Son Stopped Speaking

Inspirational stories from mothers parenting children with learning challenges.

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long.
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend,
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you — just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

–Shel Silverstein

My life changed when, one month before my son’s third birthday, he began to lose all verbal and comprehension skills. By the end of the month, he could no longer talk in complete sentences, communicate his wants/needs and seemingly preferred not to talk at all. He could barely comprehend what was being asked of him, which was a 180 degree turn from just three weeks prior when he was reading simple books, laughing smiling and pointing at pictures. Now, he just screamed, had tantrums or was completely silent.

I had lost my little boy with all his hopes and promises. I was deathly afraid and knew my life would never be the same. Six months later it was confirmed: SEVERE AUTISM.

WHY?! HOW?! WHY ME, US, HIM? NOT FAIR! This happened to the wrong child! I just wanted to run away, far, far away. We aren’t those “special people” who can handle something like this with grace and style. We AREN’T!

By the sick feeling in my stomach, I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t run away. No one else would take care of and love our nonverbal boy the way we would. I was stuck. How the hell was I going to handle this? Not only “handle it”, but do it with grace and joy so that our older child could have as much of a typical life as possible? Then that voice that has always been with me said, “Follow your gut. Trust your gut.”

Through all of the many challenges and moments of complete and utter despair, I’ve followed my gut instinct. There were times when I didn’t think the tremendous effort was worth the negligible payoff. And then, I’d always end up feeling like a schmuck that I’d lost hope. My son hadn’t lost hope. He was still trying, so how could I even imagine or have the gall to stop trying?

Many, many times, I had to muster up my courage, clear my thoughts and follow my gut. This philosophy continues to be the best approach for my son and our family. We have said “No” to traditional medicine and traditional schooling. We have found therapists, like JoQueta Handy who believes in our son and his hidden abilities. We are watching our son regain and maintain his abilities and we celebrate in his gifts of progress. We have become a better family and better parents because of what our son has taught us about what is really important in life. He has taught us to see things in a different way, a better way.

Quotes that have been helpful to me:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you must stop and look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish in your life is the direct result of your thoughts.” James Allen

“Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope. With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream. If you have hope, you have everything.” Unknown author