I began to write this in a brand new notebook.
“It’s been awhile since I wrote about Kullen. I started to online – at least twice – but it never lasts. I guess I simply want to just write – not for a particular audience.
School year 2018 began at a new location, still within our district. To our surprise, Kullen adjusted quicker with a few big bumps to start – WHICH was to be expected. Fast forward to a week before his 8th birthday, where we can all agree he his thriving.
During the end of September, he had an incident that was very hard on him. Once home, he shared verbally that he was a loser.”
Insert a pause. A pause that ties a knot in your stomach while a burning sensation surrounds your hurting heart. You see, Kullen is my oldest, making him our first. Kullen was a wonderful baby, with a few red flags that we didn’t catch on to immediately. When Kullen should have been using words, he wasn’t. He was our little caveman. He grunted, a lot, and he would pull you around so you could figure out what he needed. This path which we stepped foot on, it was not easy. Not for him or us. And I had no idea what we were all in for.
September 2015, we began speech therapy at a private practice. He had been receiving similar help through our local IU13. As I take note of this, can you imagine how it feels when strangers walk into your life and now they are trying to get you to communicate in ways that are foreign to you? No wonder he would act out at times. A little blue eyed boy with all these feelings, with hardly any words, and on his best days he laughs and smiles with you, but not always at you.
My point is, it takes time. Just like everything else. Except this takes even more time. This, in this instance, is our son Kullen. Who is no longer considered nonverbal, but when in a highly emotional and intense situation, will shut down and resort to using one word, no, or no words at all. Or he will display inappropriate and sometimes unsafe behaviors. Or he will cry. Fight or flight is very real. We aren’t managing though. We are teaching skills and mechanisms and also building a relationship surrounded by trust. And doing this takes time, along with patience and strength and knowledge and love, so much love.
Back to feeling like a loser. This is a statement that caught me off guard. Earlier this week, he said it again while working through an intense situation at school. I received an email from one of his special education teachers who was with him during this time. She also felt that same gut wrenching, heart breaking instance. She didn’t contact me because she was alarmed, although we did speak of where he may have learned this. She contacted me because she cares about him, as do many others who know Kullen and work with him or friend him. To have a young boy who barely has a grip on his own basic emotions, verbally share how he feels paired with being a loser, it is what I like to consider a breakthrough. We aren’t obsessing over it, we aren’t on high alert. But we are allowing him to feel. And explaining how he certainly is not, by definition, a loser. That not understanding a math word problem is a minor problem, and does not reflect his character. That with time, he can master this – through practice, patience and accepting help.
Again, even while writing this out, I can’t just say these things to him because his comprehension to compute it all is delayed. We have to get a little creative, use the right words, so he understands and absorbs it. So he knows this is not the end of the world, or math class, that he can keep trying. That he is a winner. And he is bright. It just takes time.