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

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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.

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Getty image by RimDream

Originally published: December 21, 2017
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