Also posted on my other site: Homeschooling the Minds of Tomorrow
I sat in the waiting room of the doctor’s office today with my 38 week belly, my five, three and one year old. A little boy and his brother sat at the coloring table where my five and three year old took a seat also. The little boy was the same age: three and a half, and his little brother was maybe six months older than my 16 month old. The little boy chatted politely to my three year old, asking him questions, etc. He asked his little brother if he could have a crayon, and the little tot nodded. I wished so badly at that moment that my little boy could respond to his peer, or to his siblings or me. I felt a pain in me as he suddenly jumped up from the table and began to wander about, seemingly oblivious to anyone else in the room. The other little boy seemed upset that my son wasn’t responding, so I just said to him, “You talk so well and you’re so sweet with your little brother!” After a long day of tantrums and meltdowns, I sat at the table to color. I needed to just breathe and unwind. Little boy sat quietly with me, as though he needed the same.
My three year old can be very sweet and gentle at times. He sleeps snuggled up against me almost every night. He tries so hard to communicate in his own complicated babble. He repeats the only thing he knows we both understand: his alphabet. He can say a few phrases, but letters, and to a lesser degree, numbers, is what he feels is his connection with us. But he gets frustrated very fast. He throws things, throws himself, screams, head butts and hits me. And it doesn’t matter what I say or do at that point…
I was telling a family member about how sweet he is and yet how difficult it can be, and that nearly every day I have to keep myself from bursting into tears. He asked if it was because he drove me crazy and made me happy all at the same time. I said, “No. Because I can’t reach him and he can’t reach me.”
Sometimes I let him play an alphabet game on my iPad. I have to be watchful and careful because he can easily get upset and throw it. But today I heard the craziest thing! He sat looking at a book and saw the letter “A.” He said to himself “A, a, a.” Then made the short a sound three times. Followed by, “Apple, alligator, ant. An alligator has an apple. An ant eats the apple.” Word for word, from the alphabet app on my iPad. I had never heard him say this many coherent words together before. He had memorized many of the letter ditties from the game and sat saying them to himself.
I have a relative with a non verbal autistic 9 year old who uses an iPad like device to communicate with her parents and care givers. I also have come across others who use them for their children as well. However, they are all much older than mine. I would give anything to be able to communicate with my son and ease his frustrations. My only concern is, would such a device at this age hinder him from learning to speak?
I know my son is very smart. I can see the gears turning in his head. I cannot imagine how frustrating it is to not be understood, except I know how frustrating it is as the parent to not be able to reach your child.
I would love to hear from others who have experience with these devices!