It was our bedtime ritual. Hug, squeeze, kiss.. and I love you’s. I would say the words while signing the gestures. We finished with Eskimo kisses.
I leaned forward to rub my nose against Zoe’s, but her nose wasn’t meeting mine. Instead, her hands were quickly moving. She was signing…..I- Love – You. I melted, completely.
I know I am lucky. I say this because many special needs children are unable to communicate spontaneously, unable to express even basic affection.
There was a time when Zoe was very, very quiet. I had to remind everyone she came in contact with , that her receptive language ability was fine and that it was important to talk to her constantly.
At the same time, we started teaching her signing. We were lucky to find a qualified ASL teacher Christine, that Zoe loved , who would come to the house weekly. We watched Signing Times videos until the whole family mastered the basic signs. Finally her language began breaking through. First through signs and then vocally, with word approximations. Sounds we understood as beginning words. Sounds that her speech therapist, Robin, taught us how to practice
It isn’t easy. As functioning adults, we take the ability to express ourselves through language- for granted. As parents of typical kids, we take the verbal “ I love you , Mom” for granted. Or I did, until that night, when her nose did not meet mine for Eskimo kisses and her hands took flight instead.
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