Ask any parent and they will tell you that there are certain milestones in their child’s life that are worth remembering. One of those is when the child speaks their first word. Typically, we spend months reading them books, singing nursery rhymes and doing everything we can to get them to speak so when they do it, it makes all of the effort worth it.
Each child is different so we can’t expect that it is possible to predict when they will end up talking. What we try to do is to teach and to be patient as we wait for the day to occur. For some parents, the wait may be longer than others.
Briana Blankenship is the mother of an autistic girl named Taylor. She was waiting five years for her daughter to speak.
Briana married Jason, her husband and found out that she was pregnant shortly after the wedding. Taylor was born on June 28, 2012 and she seemed to do quite well. She was walking when she was only 10 months old.
When Taylor was about 15 months old, somebody noticed that she spun in circles a lot. They suggested that Briana should have her checked by a physician but at first, she felt insulted.
“I was taken aback by the comment and offended that anyone would suggest that there was something ‘wrong’ with my baby,” Brianna wrote on the Love What Matters website.
When Taylor got older, she would squeal, hum and make different noises but she didn’t seem to be formulating or mimicking words.
Taylor was enrolled in speech therapy when she was 3 years old. After being tested for three months she was diagnosed with nonverbal autism. Briana had a difficulty accepting it at first.
“I felt like a total failure as a parent,” she recalled. “I had no idea what autism was, and I was convinced that it was something I had done to cause my baby to have this.”
Some 3.5 million Americans live with autism according to the Autism Society. The severity of symptoms may vary from one individual to a next but they can include repetitive behaviors, social deficits and language impairments. Scientists are not sure what causes autism but they seem to agree that there is no single cause of the disorder. It could be a variety of environmental or genetic factors.
When Taylor received the official diagnosis she was enrolled in occupational and speech therapy.
“We found out she actually has a knack for letters and numbers and can do the alphabet by herself with the use of magnets,” Briana said. “She’s also great at spelling.”
Even though she was moving forward in her communication skills, she still had not spoken a single word. That changed on one special day.
Briana enrolled Taylor in a gymnastics class as a way to give her some ‘out-of-the-box’ therapy and to promote body awareness. On the way to gymnastics on that day, they went through the drive-through at McDonald’s to get something to eat.
“I pulled into the closest fast food restaurant to grab her something that she would actually eat before we had to go class.
“She started giggling in the back seat and then I heard her say it.”
It came from out of nowhere when Taylor said her first word ‘mama’.
“I whipped my head around and asked, ‘Did you just say Mama?’ and she looked at me and said it again.” That’s when the mother started to record.
You can see it happening in this video clip and hear her say her first word. The little girl is overcome with joy with what she just did and happy to have found her voice.
This video has more than 2 million views since it was uploaded.
The mother wrote the following on her personal Facebook page:
“We have had messages from parents with nonverbal children telling us that Taylor’s video has given them hope, and we have had people with neurologically typical kids tell us that this video has reminded them that they may be taking things for granted with their kids and that they will start celebrating smaller stuff more often.”
“Not many kids have the honor of their first word being heard around the world! Thank you to everyone that has liked, commented or shared our video in celebration with us of this huge milestone!”