How My Child With Speech Apraxia Says 'I Love You'

I walked into our bedroom to find my husband hovering over our son, his face level with Roland’s face. He was mouthing the words in an exaggerated way, so that every vowel and consonant sound was enunciated clearly.

“Roland. Say ‘I love you.’ Say ‘I love you, Daddy.’”

Roland was watching his lips move, but just smiled and had no discernible words.

This wasn’t the first time this scenario played out. I, too, have tried to get Roland to say these words back to me. Watching my husband from the doorway, I realized how important it is for parents to know this from our children.

Roland would say these words, if he could. Because he does love us. And he shows it every day:

He says “I love you” when I go to pick him up from preschool. The moment I step into the room and our eyes meet, he gives me the biggest, sweetest smile — a smile that is all little teeth and shining eyes. The kind of smile you only give to someone you love.

He says “I love you” when he is soothed just by my presence after a nightmare.

He says “I love you” when he lets me kiss him and hold him close. He doesn’t seem to like these things, but he lets me do them anyway.

He says “I love you” when he smirks at my attempts to make him laugh, even though he is grumpy and worn out.

He says “I love you” when, after surgery, the first thing he does after coming out of his anesthesia is smile at me.

He says “I love you” when he forgives me for all of the hospitalizations, surgeries and therapies I had to put him through.

He says he loves me by these things, and many more.

If you have a child with speech apraxia (or any speech delay), I know it can be hard. And even though it is easier said than done, focus on what your child says when they don’t say a word. Listen to what they show you. Live for the moments that can’t be defined by words — there are so many of them.

After all, those moments in our lives where we cannot — or do not — speak, tend to be the most powerful and lasting.

Follow this journey at All Things Considered.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image by RimDream

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Apraxia

10 Things I Have Learned as a Mother of a Child With Apraxia

  People often ask me to describe what I’ve learned as the parent of a child with apraxia. It isn’t always easy to put into words. In fact, lately I have been struggling on this journey — with highs so high I’ll remember them forever and lows so low I feel I’ll curse the word [...]
Mother and daughter standing together with mother's arm around daughter

Please Don’t Call My Child’s Meltdown a ‘Tantrum’

I couldn’t understand what my daughter was trying to tell me, but she was pointing frantically and trying as hard as she could to say something. Her words were slurred and gobbled together. I could hear she was intent on saying something specific, but I could not discern any actual words. The cashier eyeballed us [...]
Session with a speech therapist.

6 Things Speech Therapists May Not Tell You About Apraxia

I have apraxia. Here are six things my speech therapists never told me, and yours may never tell you. 1. There will likely be social and emotional struggles. Growing up with apraxia, I certainly had my fair share of friends, but this does not mean I was not affected. I was asked on the playground [...]
Private teacher and small boy learning by play at home

To the Family Just Starting Out With an Apraxia Diagnosis

To the family just starting out with an apraxia diagnosis … breathe. I know it’s hard because I’ve been there. Try not to let your thoughts and fears consume you; remember your child is still your child despite the diagnosis. Many people are unaware of apraxia, which is a neurological motor planning disorder. A child [...]