My fears of never being able to have a conversation with Caroline are starting to diminish. In part because I have realized that a conversation with Caroline might look different than a conversation with my other children but it doesn’t have to feel different. And at the end of the day, the purpose of any conversation is to connect and I feel like I have had real and true exchanges where we have connected.
Caroline has been making great strides communicating using her device, signs, and vocalizations – it has been an incredible journey. For me, the most impactful part of this increased communication is that Caroline is no longer simply making requests but she is commenting as well. For instances, before asking for more food she will say “good, want more” instead of simply signing or using her device to ask for more. These small steps forward are important ones as it shows that Caroline is making the effort to let us know what she is thinking and feeling. It is, also, the first step toward spontaneous communication. All of these actions together allow us to know Caroline on a deeper level.
This weekend, Caroline and I went to lunch at Subway. As soon as we got in the car, she started talking, with the assistance of her device. She first requested that she and I go to Toys R Us. When I indicated that we were going to get lunch and would not be going to Toys R Us she then began to name numerous restaurants all of which happened to have a play place.
After we ordered Caroline and sat on either side of the table and she began to pound out statements on her device. She started telling me that her ham was good, that she wanted to go on an adventure and then named several possible activities; she also told when she was finished eating, without prompting.
I know these exchanges seem minor but the experience of having a conversation with my daughter over lunch is one that I have been craving for years. The fact that it happened so naturally made it all the more special.