Don’t Underestimate His Silence

Melissa Schlemmer by Melissa Schlemmer Additional Needs

Melissa Schlemmer

Melissa Schlemmer

Currently I am trying to juggle life with an infant, 7 year old, and a nearly 5 year old with special needs. Life is all kinds of crazy, but we are...

Our three year old cannot talk.

He can’t say, “Mom, I need your help!” He can’t sing his alphabet or count to ten.

He cannot name anyone in his family with labels or first names, except, “Bru­va”, which is new and amazing.

He is unable to tell me any of his wants or needs with words. But I need to make one thing clear.

He is smart. He knows exactly what is going on around him.

You see, I can’t tell you how many times people have said things to me like, “Do you think he understands?” or, “Does he really know this or that?”

I am tired of people treating him as though he is, dare I say it? Stupid.

We don’t use the word, “stupid”, in our house so I’m stepping out as I type it.

Please don’t tell my five year old or I will most definitely get a timeout.

It saddens me that just because our youngest cannot speak, he is perceived as less than what he is.

The list of things he cannot do goes on and on, but one thing he does very well is understand the world around him.

His planning and processing takes much longer, and he’s limited by the control of his extremities.

He’s so much smarter than many people give him credit for. I’m upset that he is underestimated time and time again.

He is silly and understands silly play.

He understands voice tones and giggles at all the appropriate times.

He is manipulative. He knows his high pitched squeal will garner attention and has no problem using it when it suits him.

His face lights up when I ask him if he’d like to go read books or take a bath.

He shakes his head now when he is done with me offering him tastes of food during dinner.

He grins when we walk into preschool to pick up his older brother and cries when we walk into therapy, fully aware that hard work awaits him.

Please don’t underestimate his silence.

Please stop questioning his ability to understand.

No, he cannot speak with words to validate his thoughts, but look into his eyes and you will see all of the answers you need.


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