Monday 5 March 2018

The first time one son spoke to the other

Back of two autistic boys on a hill

David had his birthday recently.  He turned seven years old.  But unlike most other seven year olds he didn't say 'thank you' for his gifts or talk endlessly to his Nana & Papa on the phone about his big day. That's because David is autistic and what we describe as pre-verbal.  Basically put, David doesn't really talk.

His verbal communication is very limited.  He uses some single or two word phrases to gets what he wants.  He started communicating using Makaton sign language - which was amazing.  If you don't believe me, read about the first time he signed for a hug.   He knows many signs and to be honest, many of the words that go along with them.  Over a quarter of autistic individuals are non-verbal, but David says a few things.

If we look through a book of about farms he is quite capable of, when prompted, signing and saying 'p-ig', 'c-ow','c-or-n' and at a push 'fm-mer' (that's farmer to the rest of the world).  But he uses very little as yet to communicate.  When we visit the city farm we can point and say 'pig' and he will echo what we say, but it's not him communicating.

We've also come to the conclusion that David also has verbal dyspraxia, meaning he also finds physically moving his mouth to form the letters difficult too.  Along with his limited speech this means it's quite difficult for most people to understand what he says.  So he knows he is understood, he will often seek out the person he communicates with most when he wants to ask for something.

This means if I'm in the bedroom folding and putting away clothes (What? I've done that before), and David is in the living room and decides he needs a drink, he will go past everyone in the lounge and kitchen and come all the way to me to ask for a drink.  He's only just at the point where I can yell down to my other half to help David and he'll actually go back down on the trust that juice will appear.  It was only a short time ago that I had to also come down stairs to fulfil David's request personally.

It's not like he doesn't interact with the rest of the family.  It's obvious he loves them very much.  Yes he likes to spend time by himself but he'll ask play chase and laugh.  And the number of times he's fallen asleep next to his brother isn't worth trying to count.  He's afraid of leaving his family anywhere and very keen on us all staying together.. and being safe.

But something amazing happened on the school run the other day.

Our school run is... busy.  Two schools, three kids.  Chaos actually.

David is always last to be collected, so when is arrives in his car seat, his siblings are already there.  Jane is usually in the front, trying to hide whatever snack she got after school just incase David takes a fancy to it.

Anthony, David's older brother who also has diagnoses of autism and ADHD, is in the back with his brother.  This in itself is an achievement.  Sometimes the boys find it very hard to understand each other's actions and this has caused us difficulties in the past on the school run - read more here if you have a pack of tissues at hand.

On this particular day, we would taking Anthony to inclusive Karate classes that are held at Me too & Co, a great local charity that supports families with children with additional needs. In preparation for a late dinner, I'd brought along a pack of hot cross buns - Anthony's favourite.  He'd already had two of the half dozen pack when David entered the vehicle.

I strapped David in.  "Coat off," I said.  David pulled his sleeves and then his coat off and sat in his car seat waiting to be strapped in.  He put his hand on the iPads that are always waiting for him in the car.  Please don't judge, iPads are great for David.

Then I strapped him in and hurtled off to get in the car.

I fiddled with my coat and turned the key a quarter turn (as you should always do with a diesel) then just before I turned the rest of the way and started the engine, I heard it.

"B-un" said David.  And he held out his hand towards his brother.

Oh gosh, what will Anthony do, how will he respond?

"Oh, you want a bun?  Oh, OK," he replied.

I looked in the rear view mirror as Anthony stuck his hand into the pack and pulled out hot cross bun number four, and put it into the waiting palm of his brother.

Seriously, I was nearly in tears.

"David, say, thank you." I chocked.

"Q," he mumbled through a face full of baked bread and raisins looking out of his window.

"You are welcome," replied Anthony through another face full of baked bread and raisins looking out of his window.

This may seem like a small thing, but it's not.  David spoke.  David didn't ask me for a bun.  David communicated directly with his brother.  Anthony understood.  Anthony did the perfect job (which I later praised him for hugely) giving up a hot cross bun.  And in the end they were even both good with their manners.

Seriously, I'm crying again.

So what had originally been an average (if we have any of those) day, with a trip to inclusive karate, turned out to be the day one of my son's spoke to the other for the first time.  And all thanks to a hot cross bun.

Hand me the tissues will you?

Last week The Makaton Charity are highlighting core vocabulary. 
Catch up with their #wetalkmakaton sign of the week 'Pig' from last week on their facebook page.


  1. That's brilliant, may seem like a little thing to some others but I get what a huge thing it is! Siblings are amazing I think, they instinctively know how to react with each other even if they don't always want to play fair. Top marks to Anthony, and great news about David's communication! x

  2. Ah, I hope you've dried off now. That sounds like a lovely parenting moment and one that you will treasure forever. #kcacols

  3. what a wonderful post, so emotional. I expect it brought a smile to your face after the tears x #KCACOLS

  4. This is so moving. Thank you for sharing. Hopefully this will be the start of him communicating directly with his siblings more xx

  5. Oh what a beautiful post. Hopefully this is the start of great things to come. Thank you so much for joining #kcacols and we hope to see you next time.

  6. Thank you for sharing such a special moment and I am so pleased I read this. Keep doing what you are doing in the mum department and the blogging one too. Celebrate every milestone and all our children have their individual ones #TheMMLinky

  7. Oh wow that is HUGE!! Max has autism and verbal dyspraxia too - he's 10 now and becoming much clearer and more verbal, it's amazing to see! For so long I didn't think he'd ever have much speech, but it's truly coming on! <3 WELL DONE David, and Anthony for reacting so well to his little brother, and most of all, well done YOU for doing such a fantastic job! <3 #TheMMLinky

  8. Aahhh, man! I'm crying! This is huge! Well done David - and Anthony, for responding so beautifully. #TheMMLinky

  9. Brilliant. I can't wait to we have that moment xx


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