It started in January 2016. Our boy turned two years old. Intelligent, strong, full of energy and those baby blues that look like the sea killed me EVERY time. So much wonder behind his eyes and SO much love for his family and life and playing. My once small baby, born when the snow fell in Georgia, was now two. So much ahead of him and so much we looked forward to.
I remember when I was pregnant with Soren. I prayed for a boy with energy and joy. I knew that's who he was and seeing that's who he IS gives me nothing but joy everyday. He is everything I knew he would be even when he was just a small thing growing inside of me.
Soren was always quick on his feet. Mastered motor-skills both fine and gross well before other little ones his age. He has also always been very aware of himself and his placement in space. It's rare to see him fall or trip. Along with this, Soren also became my "runner"...strollers have been a personal lifesaver for me with my little explorer.
When he was a baby we worked on all of the basic words, "da-da" "ba-ba" (bottle) "ma-ma"...for a short phase in his life he said "ba-ba" every night. Matter of fact, I believe it was his first word. During bath time he would stand up and proclaim, "ba-ba!"...he looked forward to this moment all day. Cuddles, songs and his beloved ba-ba.
I remember his two year check-up. Jon and I had already had conversations about our concerns with his speech. He didn't say much. His words were inconsistent, rare and mostly consisted of, "uh-oh" "done" "da" and the occasional attempt at the word "juice". ;) We knew at this age we might expect a handful of more words and maybe a few two-word sentences. But his words were hardly there, I could count them on one hand. My heart started beating fast as I realized the concern on the doctors face. She asked me a series of questions and I remember my fears being affirmed and at the same time deepened. The process was set forward to begin early intervention. We started with hearing screenings, a brief surgery to get tubes put into his ears and started Soren into speech therapy. Between weekly speech sessions, Jon and I worked on signing, flashcards, pointing out objects to get him to mimic us, we lived for the receptive moments. The times when we was open and receptive to learning and hearing were rare.
We were told over and over again by ourselves and others:
"He's a boy, they always take longer."
"First born children tend to take longer to speak."
"Just you wait, one day he'll wake up and start talking!"
"He probably CAN talk but just doesn't want to."
"As soon as he starts talking, you won't be able to keep him quiet!"
and our personal favorite...
"Einstein didn't talk until he was four!"
We hoped preschool would be a turning point for Soren. It was something we worked towards and we put a lot of hope in...a time to be around little ones his age a few times a week. We hoped it would propel him forward and inspire him to see other kids his age talking and communicating. However, preschool proved to only be a point of stress, anxiety and frustration for Soren. He didn't hate going but he had an extraordinarily hard time doing what the other kids were doing.
Seeing Soren attend preschool for a few short months made us realize there might be something even more to this then we originally thought. More red flags, more worries and more unanswered questions.
I was called into several parent-teacher meetings about how they could best work with Soren and practices we have at home that could translate there...my heart was so heavy. I hated the day I had to pull him out, I held back tears and watched his teacher do the same. It was heartbreaking. We wanted so much for it to be great for him, but our sweet boy needed more, more than preschool could give him and more than we were giving him.
Our journey with doctors, pediatric psychologists, occupational therapists, books, resources, conversations, phone calls, appointments, began. At this point we knew it was beyond a speech delay, we could feel it in our heart and see it in Soren. Our mission became to find answers so we could give Soren the tools he needed to thrive and be himself.
As Soren began realizing more and more about the world around him, I could read a fascination in his eyes and an incredible intelligence. At the same time, Jon and I watched as he grew with age he grew in frustration.
We knew he so badly wanted to communicate with us; tell us his thoughts, desires, feelings...tell us he loves us. What I would GIVE a thousand times to hear those three words.
Meltdowns became more frequent as he approached three.
Soren, however, has always been very clever and found many ways to communicate with us to the best of his ability. We would grab us by the hand and lead us around the house to show us what he wanted to play with, eat, watch or do. And even though Soren couldn't say anything, he SAID so much. He loves pulling us down to eye level and going off on 15 minutes rants in his own language. He has SO much to say, so many hand gestures, facial expressions, movements. Usually we can't help but sit and smile at him during these times. We dream of the day when we can get insight into that little mind and hear his stories. Although his words are few, even now he communicates and speaks in his our language constantly. His mind is going 24/7. I love watching him work. He loves puzzles and coloring the most. He can put together a magnetic map of the United States perfectly without help. I could never dream of doing that at his age!
At just over a month out from his third birthday, our little Soren still only speaks a few understandable words. Every now and then he'll actually surprise us with a new word, but I think he's just teasing us because 9 times out of 10 he won't repeat the word or phrase again. ;)
Since our first moments realizing something was different we've learned SO much and encountered so many amazing people and programs that are all working to help our Soren. We are currently in the process of learning a lot more about Soren and we look forward to continuing to share that journey with you as we gain more knowledge.
Jon and I wanted to share this story with you because we wanted to celebrate Soren. To us, no matter the diagnoses, no matter the journey, Soren is who God created him to be. I don't want a different Soren, we just want to give him everything he needs to thrive and be the best Soren he can be. I remember when I first feared the worst, I sat at our table in the kitchen and wept. I feared for his future, for his relationships...but now I sit here in freedom, grace and incredible peace. Knowing more about him is empowering. Knowing how we can help him and educate him is worth more than anything. We are thrilled for his future and we are overjoyed for the man he will become one day.
So here's to our bright boy. Our boy filled with joy, laughter, LOUDNESS and cheesy grins. A boy that's hard to catch and easy to hug. A boy that's already so incredibly handsome. A boy that is gentle and shares precious hugs and kisses with his loved ones. A boy that would give anything to play and run, especially with his daddy. A boy who will have so many stories to tell and so many things to say.
We love you up to everything in the world Soren Lind Wallace.