The first time I heard “I love you” from my son was through a programmed voice from an app used for communication on his iPad. He was almost 5 years old. From the time we received our diagnosis of “classic autism” two days after his second birthday, I obsessed over hearing those words. The reality is, most parents never question if their child will ever say “I love you.” They just look forward to when they’ll get to hear it. For myself, it was just the opposite. I spent my nights lying in bed and looking at the ceiling wondering, “Will my son ever say, ‘I love you’”? Everything I’d read said that we were on a race against the clock — that if he wasn’t talking by age 5, he wouldn’t talk. The obsession consumed me. HE HAS TO TALK.
While my ears were open, my eyes were shut. The problem was never whether or not he would ever talk. The problem was with my idea of what hearing those words meant — that somehow hearing those words meant the difference between whether or not I knew he loved. I couldn’t have been more wrong. His inability to vocally say, “I love you, Mom,” never meant he didn’t love me. And my inability to see was keeping me from realizing that sometimes love needs no words.
The day I first heard that programed voice say, “I love you” from my son is still one of my favorite memories of all time. I remember what I was wearing. I remember who was there in his class. And most important, I remember how I felt. I felt loved.
Today, he’s 7 years old, and his version of, “I love you too, Mom” is ‘muah’ (a kissing sound of his lips smacking together I can only assume is a response to me saying to him, “I love you” and kissing him on the cheek). I melt every time he does it. It’s special. It’s our thing. I feel loved, and no words are necessary. One of my favorite songs is “Amazing Grace” and part of the lyrics are “I was blind, but now I see.”
“I love you”
No words necessary.
I was blind, but now I see.
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