I'm so excited to reintroduce you to my amazing friend, Chrissy. I first shared her with you last year here. We were chatting yesterday and I asked her if she'd like to share with us how Words Matter to her. You see, Words Matter is our mantra here at BOP. But Words Matter in many, many ways to many people. Please give a warm BOP welcome to Chrissy.
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They always have. My mom said I was an early talker, a fact that makes me feel proud, despite the fact I don't remember it and I had nothing to do with it. At 15 months I was speaking in sentences. "Where did the monkey go?" "Can I have that doll?" People would stop her out in public, in shock. I guess I’ve just always had a deep desire to express myself. To get needs met, to gain more information and to make sense of the clutter that is constantly flying around my tornado brain.
Words give life meaning.
It’s pretty crazy how it all happens. Suddenly one day, we begin to comprehend that these sounds people keep making around us have meaning. We begin to understand the world in ways we never needed to before. We realize when we make the sound, "maaa", well that fricking awesome lady that usually knows what I need goes giddy insane. She jumps all around and makes me laugh so I do it some more. "maaaaa" she makes some more noises and does some more jumps.
And just like that- words go from sounds to meaning. Real life, actual hold it in your hands, meaning. And those little babies, their language just grows and grows and grows. More and more meaning means more and more understanding the universe. More things to do and see and taste and feel. We form needs and wants and we express them and it pays off. There is no downside. But as time goes on, words have the ability to make us sad too. "Cookie?" that baby asks and then Momma says, "No" which must mean I can't have a cookie because now she's walking away from them which is awful.
And as we grow into ourselves, our character and our lives, we begin to use our words for good. To express love, to explain things, to ask for things, to understand things. Sometimes we try out using our words for bad. "I hate you. You are the worst mom in the world", I remember seven year old me saying to my mom because she wouldn't take us to McDonalds for dinner. I began to realize- those kinds of words felt bad to say, so I tried not to say them as much. Words represent who we are and HOW we are. And now I pay so much attention to the words I put out there.
Words mean everything.
So imagine my surprise when my almost two-year-old little baby boy is barely talking. Just wait until he gets how meaningful words are, I would think. He can ask for trucks and new cars and milk instead of juice at any time of the day. He won’t throw the yellow cup because he wanted the red one, he will just tell me. I couldn’t wait to hear the sound of his voice. I couldn’t wait to hear his words. The ones he would choose to let me into his world.
Fast forward a year and one autism diagnosis later. I was crushed. Words keep me company in this sometimes lonely world, and my son barely used them at all. It crushed me. Taking him to Speech Therapy became my bridge to Spectrumville. It was my only hope to figure out how he was feeling, what he wanted and who he was.
That sweet baby boy is now almost seven years old. And he still struggles to speak daily. But I’ve realized he doesn’t need to speak for me to know him deep in his soul. The spoken word is not his primary means of communication. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t communicate with me all day long. I know every look, every sound, every movement. Sometimes I think I know him better than I would even if he could speak.
My two boys have taught me so much about words. They carry perfect little words in their head and their heart; words in their purest of forms. The words they can't speak but can FEEL. And sometimes their words truly tell me everything, so much more than I could ever express. Not everyone can express themselves out loud, but I've yet to meet someone who couldn’t feel words. And that’s what really matters.
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