How well do I know my child?

J recently celebrated his sixth birthday. He seemed more aware this year that it was his day and that things were for him. It got me thinking about his thought processes and just how well I understand them and if I get it right most of the time.

When your child is non-verbal it can be very difficult and frustrating for both them and you. It is hard to fully understand what they want or need. Often it’s a guessing game of elimination to figure it out and finally give them what they are looking for. We have taken part in many activities, workshops and courses to try to help us to meet J’s communication needs, to try to support his development and to try to understand him and his world a little better. It’s been a long road with many ups and downs and bumps along the way. Being honest, we’re still on the journey and finding out new things as we go. 

As his mum I probably understand him most and he often looks to me to interpret his needs and meet them. He is definitely getting better at putting his point across but still has some way to go. It often makes me wonder, how well do I actually know him? Am I interpreting him correctly? I would like to think I know him every bit as well as I know my other two.

I challenged myself to think about what his favourite things are and how I know this. A bit like All Star Mr & Mrs but without all the nice celebrities and funny jokes. What do I know about him?

His favourite colours are green and purple. His favourite TV programmes at the moment are Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and Horrid Henry. He loves trains, sharks and dinosaurs. At dinner time he is a meat and veg type of boy, though he also loves pasta with tuna or bologneise. The iPad would be his favourite piece of technology and he’s a whizz with You Tube. He adores being outdoors, loves the beach and the park, as well as being a huge fan of swings – he could spend hours on one if he was allowed. Water is a bit of an obsession and he can often be found filling a bucket or paddling pool to swirl and splash the water around. At times he is even overly keen to ‘wash hands’ just to get access to some!

When it comes to things he doesn’t like, the list is almost as long. Mainly he hates high pitched noises and sudden or loud noises (if he hasn’t made them himself!) He’s not keen on rice and doesn’t like spicy foods. When it comes to toys he likes most things, though I have figured out that he’s not very fond of toys or games that require sustained concentration or sitting still for periods of time. He has to be encouraged to share and he doesn’t like people being too close to his toys (in case they steal them).

I think people underestimate him because he’s not able to speak. I know a previous nursery placement didn’t work out for that very reason. I suppose the message behind this post is never to assume people don’t know things just because they aren’t able to say them out loud to you. Look for other ways to communicate with them and be patient. Allow them to show you things in a different way.

J knows all numbers to 20 and many up towards 100 too. He knows every letter of the alphabet and can put them in order by ‘singing’ the song to help him sort them. He knows all of his shapes and colours and can communicate these by pointing them out when I say them or using his PECS book to show the names. He can do so much more than ‘bang a drum with support’! I just wish other people would take the time to see that and give him ways to show just how clever he is and how much he knows.

All children have a need to be successful and showcase their achievements. It’s just that for some we need to do it in alternative way – ‘think outside the box’ and give them that sense of pride and achievement we celebrate so well in children who can tell us what they know. In fact, perhaps we should celebrate it more since it took a good bit more effort to get there!

This post was first featured as: How Well Do I know My Silent Son on Meet Other Mums

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21 thoughts on “How well do I know my child?

  1. What a brilliant post Hun! You are absolutely spot on about thinking outside of the box, I’m so sorry the nursery didn’t ‘get’ your son. It is so important that you have a trusting relationship with school. as teachers we have to find ways to allow each of our children to shine! Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT 🎉

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    1. Pressed send too soon! I think as a teacher I try my best for other people’s children and I had hoped others would do the same for my son. I was very disappointed and quite hurt when it became apparent they wouldn’t! Thanks for hosting and for your lovely comment!

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  2. I can’t imagine how hard it must be sometimes, for both you and him. It sounds like you know him pretty well and your post has made me think about how well I know my daughter. She’s only two so doesn’t speak much yet (and obviously I can’t compare to your son’s situation) but she gets frustrated a LOT of the time and I have to figure out what the grunts mean. Sometimes it’s ‘no!!!”, sometimes it’s ‘help’, sometimes it’s ‘I want to do it’…and sometimes I just haven’t got a clue. The thing is there are so many ways to communicate and people just need to be a bit more patient and tuned in. These things you most definitely are, my lovely. #mg

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  3. Every child whether a massive speaker or not, has their own likes and dislikes and are all very much set in their own ways. It’s heart warming to see how you are able to rhyme off so much about your son, and its amazing to hear what he is able to do – and I can sense your pride when talking about those. Every child matters, every child is unique and every child should have someone other than their parents rooting for them (especially when that child is in a childcare/educational environment). Keep doing what you are BOTH doing. You are simply wonderful #MMBC

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  4. What a beautiful post, I really enjoyed it and found it very moving. I don’t think you could know him any better even if he were verbal. He’s your baby boy and you both amazing x #MMBC

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  5. My oldest uses AAC to communicate. When he’s sitting he sometimes stares off into space. I don’t know what he’s thinking at those moments. Maybe he’s bored with the academics in the class, or maybe he wants to engage and is having difficulty focusing so he looks elsewhere.

    I do know that on the trampoline he lights up and sings nursery rhymes with me. And when he climbs trees, all of those problem solving skills are in full use.

    I’m glad that we’ve found activities that make him happy and challenge him. As he continues to age, I look forward to learning more.

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    1. It’s so difficult to watch them at times when you just don’t know what they are thinking. It would be great to have a little glimpse inside their thoughts. Thanks for reading, it’s great that you know how to make your son happy and keep him learning. I hope the future brings more progress in this for you too.

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  6. A lovely way to capture what J is up to at the moment, and I can’t believe that a nursery placement didn’t work out because he couldn’t speak. I love that you know a lot of favourite things, I hope that when my daughter is two I know her favourite things. Right now it’s milk and spag bol. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

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  7. It is such a shame when children (and adults) are underestimated because of the way they appear and not given the chance to prove what they can do. We have the same problem with Gregs. It is fantastic that you know so much about your son even though he is non-verbal.

    Thank you for linking up to the #MMBC

    XX

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  8. It’s beautiful how you describe him and it is lovely to get to know more about your little boy. It is true that sometimes, well more often than not, we need to slow down and get to know people. We rush and became impatient with people and the truth is the world is more beautiful when we celebrate our uniqueness. #mg

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