The Silence Can Be Deafening

There are times when the silence is deafening. When the lack of speech and two-way conversation fills up a car so loudly you feel like screaming. Seven years. Almost eight. Think of all the conversations we should have had. All the questions he should have asked me.

I should know his favorite color. And animal. He should be talking my ear off. And asking me nonstop questions. It should be one more drink of water before bed. Or one more story.

I should be praying for quiet. For just one moment of silence from his nonstop chatter.

But I’m not. I never have. Because we still haven’t had a conversation. Not yet anyways.

Before my son was born, I didn’t know nonverbal was a thing. I truly, truly didn’t. I didn’t know that beautiful, smart, silly little boys at nearly age eight didn’t speak. Or may never.

I remember picking up my son from daycare, long before autism was a word in our vocabulary, and watching all the other two and three year olds run to their parents, arms up, showing off art projects and talking about their day. I’d gather my kid out of the sandbox, or the grass, or wherever he’d isolated himself too, hold my breath that the report wasn’t too terrible and drive home.

Most days I’d talk to him as if he was talking back. I’d ask about his day. And lunch. And his nap. I’d ask question after question and watch him in the rear view mirror. I’d look for any reaction to my words. Only never to see one.

I’d make it five minutes or so and my questioning would dry up. There would be nothing left to say.

And we’d drive in silence. The deafening silence that is hard to describe.

I remember bargaining. And begging. I’d convince myself to do more therapy. To work more on speech at home. I’d tell myself I wasn’t doing enough. I’d beat myself up.

Sometimes I’d cry. Thankful I was looking forward so he couldn’t see the tears roll down my face. The tears that would always be dry before I pulled into the driveway to see my husband.

Sometimes I’d imagine what it would be like if he spoke to me. Or I’d think about how this can’t last forever. And how one day, years from now, I will look back on this and smile. I’d think about how silly I will feel about all the worrying I did. Wasted worry. Because this will be fine. Eventually.

But mostly I’d be thankful for the radio and the music that filled up the air.

In those moments I’d pray for speech. I’d pray for any words.

And then, a year or so later, my second born son was here and talking and car rides were magically filled with conversations of dinosaurs, Nerf Guns and baseball. I answered never ending questions. I laughed at the silliest questions. I wished he’d stop talking for one second so I could think.

And almost over night the silence wasn’t there anymore.

But some days, like today, I get a solo trip with Cooper to Dairy Queen and the line for the drive thru takes 20 minutes. I found myself studying my seven year old and remembering those never ending silent trips to and from daycare and school. And thinking about all the things I’d give to just hear one word.

I’d give pretty much anything for just one question. An arm. A leg. Money. Anything. Just to hear him say mom. To have just one conversation. To hear his voice. Have him talk my ear off. To not wonder if it’s going to be this way forever.

On days like today, with the windows down, driving through town with my beautiful boy, I feel the silence more than usual. This should be one of those moments. One where we talk about everything he loves. And laugh. It shouldn’t be like this.

The silence is deafening at times. Especially the older he gets.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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  • diannekinzer

    August 15, 2018 at 9:03 pm
    Reply

    I had never thot about this. You write so eloquently; I hope some day to read that Cooper is speaking.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
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