Ilse is four now. Usually by four kids are nearly fluent in their native language. They can ask for things and tell their parents what happened to them when their parents were out of sight. All too often four year olds tell things their parents wish could have stayed secret, like the time my parents were 'having a discussion' and my dad saw the neighbor walking by and said, "oh, I hope he doesn't come over right now" and I ran right out the door and told that to our neighbor.
When our boys came to live with us they were both three and neither could really talk. Chris knew how to say 'no' and he used that word all. the. time. Joey could say a few things but even those things were hard to understand. I didn't really have to teach Chris to talk. He just picked it up. But it was a hard job to teach Joey, and I'm still teaching him to this day.
But Ilse is four. I don't feel like it's completely accurate to say she's noverbal, although that's what I wrote on her medical alert bracelet. But her functional language is nearly zilch. She can say "mo mo?" for more and she signs it. She signs fan. She says 'uhhh' for up and 'yesh' for yes as she does a fist pump. That one is pretty cute. She says a few phrases over and over, especially when she is upset, but they are unintelligible.
But she cannot tell me what is wrong when something happens to her. She cannot tell me what hurts. She cannot tell me if she feels safe with various people or if they take good care of her when I am gone. She cannot tell me if I am about to forget her in the car. She cannot tell me if she prefers her bed by the window or if she likes it where it was before.
About a year ago I bought Ilse an app called "Speak For Yourself'. It is arguably the best speech app out there. The whole vocabulary (14000 words) can be accessed by no more than two touches per word. It's easy to navigate and it works on the ipad, so we didn't have to buy an expensive device to give Ilse a voice.
The problem is, Ilse shows no interest. She doesn't care to type on it and hear the words. She doesn't remember where 'more' is and make a move to press it.
Ilse deserves a voice but I don't know how to give her one. I want to hear 'mama' from her even if it is from a talker. I want her to say "I love you" somehow.
So many mommas want the same things I do. So many of them will never get it, either through their kids' inability to communicate, or through poverty, or because the kids just aren't motivated to communicate. I hope I won't be one of the mommas who will never hear 'I love you' from my child.
I love her beautiful sounds. She has a lovely voice. I just want it to be more functional.