Over the past 5 months, our family struggled with a myriad of emotions.
My son who just turned 20 months hasn’t been speaking much. A lot of moms tell me that boys just develop at a slower pace. A part of me thought I was simply paranoid.
But something didn’t seem right when Elijah who was calling “Daddy”, “Mama”, “Jie Jie” (big sister in Chinese) suddenly stopped calling and spoke nothing. He points to what he wants and scream when we don’t get him. He often try to drag us to the places he wants to go and grab our hands to show us what he wants.
As the main caregiver, one could imagine the kind of questions that went through my mind.
“Was it because of a head injury?” Elijah has always been an active child. He’s always climbing, running and prying into things.
“Could it be something I ate?” I wondered if the sashimi or caffeine I took affected my milk.
“Did I not pay enough attention to him?” The grandparents said this when they noticed Elijah’s lack of words.
A month ago, I finally had the courage to bring him to a friend who is a speech therapist for evaluation. She recommended some exercises to do with him, as she noticed he had difficulty focusing his attention.
Following that, I did more research. I was now in “panic” mode. The red flags stated for Autism, Apraxia and ADD were relatively similar to Elijah’s situation.
I started to dread bedtime because my mind would try to reason for an answer in the stillness of the night. I was weary physically and spiritually. My pillow soaked in tears each night.
I had naturally assumed that talking would come quickly for Elijah because Hannah started talking early. By 18 months, she was already communicating fluently with us.
While I kept searching for the “why’s”, I persisted with my home exercises with Elijah. Things didn’t seem to improve after nearly a month. In fact, it seemed worse. He had more meltdowns and with that my firstborn felt left out. She started acting out more.
I tried to tell her that I needed more one-on-one time with her brother. Though it surely ain’t easy for someone whose love language is quality time to accept this.
She feels that Elijah is robbing away her time with her mother. And sometimes wish for her brother to go away. My heart broke when I heard those words.
I’m on my knees everyday. Asking for an answer. Praying for more love and understanding within the family. I couldn’t understand what God wanted us to learn. I couldn’t understand why a perfect God allowed imperfection to enter into our lives. I am drained. I’ve ran out of logic.
By end of 3 weeks, I decided to bring Elijah to an ENT specialist to have his hearing checked.
The session was expensive because we didn’t seek a referral. But I knew I shouldn’t delay things. This nagging feeling of having his ears checked have been on my mind.
It turns out that it was a right decision. Elijah has impacted ear wax in both ears which affects his hearing (approx 10-20 decibels). We had the ear wax removed; terrifying experience for Elijah.
He then went for a hearing test. Results were positive. He has no hearing problems. The ENT specialist recommended a developmental pediatrician to evaluate Elijah’s development.
In the meantime, the husband reminded me of the upcoming church retreat in 2 weeks time. I wasn’t looking forward to it having much dissonance within.
A week before we left for Malaysia, Elijah called out “Papa”. My husband and I stared at each other in amazement. He finally spoke something again!
I waited expectedly for more words. Nothing came.
The theme for our retreat was “Love Beyond Reason”. Dr. Peter Tan-chi of Christ’s Commission Fellowship was one of the guest speakers. His sermons resonated most with us. His sharing about his daughter’s tragedy; of pain and restoration were inspiring and compelling.
Did I receive a word from God during the camp? No. But I’m beginning to understand what Mother Teresa said:
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
I do not know how our journey will unfold; how God will write Elijah’s life story. Please pray together with us while we cling on to God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
P/s: Elijah called “Mama” on the third day of our retreat, right after our service! His every word spoken becomes so precious to me…