When my son was diagnosed with Autism, getting him to talk seemed like an impossible task. Without a background in speech therapy, I felt helpless. My hope was to hear his voice someday. Nearly all speech therapists we saw told me that he would never speak and suggested that I teach him sign language and pray for the best. Nevertheless, when he used to cry, I could hear the noise of his crying, and I would always wonder that if he could make sounds by yelling and crying, could he possibly someday even say a word or two? I forced myself, as difficult as it was, to refuse what the professionals were telling me. I realized that I had to hold on to this dream tenaciously in order to make it a reality.
I began the journey to help him speak by studying every therapy that was available, and read as much as I could about his condition. In doing so, I trained myself on how to work with him and kept track of the procedures that helped him obtain verbal skills. I eventually was able to compile a rudimentary home program that included speech therapy, occupational therapy, and exposure to academics. Although at first this task seemed substantially difficult, the more I worked with him, the easier it became. Each tiny step I took eventually became gigantic leaps, and working with him became more and more rewarding. Regardless of the difficulties that came with his label; regardless of his level of severity, I always believed in my son, and never allowed others’ opinions to make me think otherwise, despite how highly those opinions were deemed or the level of confidence of those professionals who thought he would surely fail. I knew how far he had come. I knew that he had nowhere to go but up. Success came with hard work, hope, and belief – and, at last, he began to talk.
My son’s autism was, perhaps, the best learning experience that I could have acquired in life. I was introduced to a whole other world: one filled with rejections, opportunities, and challenges with many obstructions. Here, I met some of the most dedicated and giving parents that I could have ever imagined. With his little hand in mine, we faced the challenges that we were presented; we slowly chipped our way through the immense and immovable brick wall of Autism and managed to uncover this brilliant, bright light of progress that was invisible before. Finally, he began to speak and finally hold conversations.
It is through these experiences that I am able to write this guide, a documentation of the speech therapy methods that I used with my son, with the hope that it can offer others a powerful resource in their speech therapy repository.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but you do not have to face it alone and unarmed.