Jack has Autism and could not speak. That has now all changed.
Last Christmas, despite being a family of five, our house was the quietest house on our street, not because it wasn’t a house filled with love and happiness but because my two youngest children Conor (now 6) and Jack (3) have Autism and were both unable to speak. My daughter Hailey (8) would tell me she was lonely as she had no one to talk to, I would find myself talking to my little boys and would not even realise it but I was talking back to myself, imagining if they “could” talk what they would say to me. I would say “love you Jack, love you Conor” and in my mind they would say “love you mammy”. The fact they couldn’t speak at all, couldn’t tell me how they felt, that they knew I loved them or if they were scared or unhappy broke my heart and mind every single day and every single night before I went to sleep.
I would have dreams at night where both my little boys would be able to speak, and they would chatter away to each other, to their lovely big sister. They would tell us all the things they had been keeping to themselves for just the right moment, they would burst with all they had to say. Sometimes I would wake in the morning and my eyes would be streaming wet, as I didn’t realise I had been crying in my sleep with how happy I felt while in my dreams. The reality on waking of course broke my heart a little more because I was back in the reality where I watched my little boys struggling to have themselves “heard” when they were unable to speak. Struggling to exist in a world that wasn’t ready for them quite yet.
I remember the day I was standing in a queue at my local supermarket and a lovely mum was chattering away to her little boy who looked just like my cute little Jack at home, and I realised I was holding in my breath. I was so afraid to breath out because I was doing my very best to not cry as it washed over me that I may never have what this lovely mum had right now. I felt I would never hear my little boys talk, that they would never say I love you Mammy, never be able to say how they feel, that they would somehow be locked away inside their minds, lonely forever, never being able to tell me all the things that have always wanted to say. I left the shop that day and cried my eyes out as I drove home to my little men and hugged them a little tighter, wishing a little more that somehow a miracle would happen and that they would find their voices.
Our miracle arrived a few short months ago in the form of an amazing Therapist called Keira Keogh from Westport in Co. Mayo. From mid- September 2016; she started working with my little boy, Jack. She has worked tirelessly with him, pushing him on, guiding him, supporting him, adoring him, but most importantly believing in him. Believing he could do more, could be more and that he would be heard. In the last number of weeks he has really started to flourish, through her help he is more able physically, more social, more happy in himself but most of all he is talking.
Just this week he has started to say “night, night mammy”, “love you mammy, love you daddy”. He can now say his big sister’s name “Hailey” and can almost say “Conor”. I walked in on Hailey, Conor and Jack all playing together in Conor’s bedroom this evening and my heart broke with happiness, as we have never had that before in our house. I know what it means now to cry with happiness and it is all down to Keira.
What I admire most about Keira Keogh is that she really believes in Jack’s ability to succeed but also that she really cares about him, about how he feels. She is as proud as I am when he overcomes a struggle that previously he couldn’t master. She is so thorough in all she does for him, so prepared but so ready to take each of Jack’s challenges on and to help him overcome.
I know that this Christmas will be our most special yet as now there will be giggles of happiness on Christmas eve from a very cute little 3 year old, his big brother Conor and big sister Hailey as they get ready for bed. I know that on Christmas morning when Santa has left all his presents, all 3 will be happy, chattering in their own way about what Santa has brought but mostly I know that my gorgeous Jack will be so happy he is finally heard.
I owe so much to Keira Keogh for helping to change my little boy’s life. Helping him to find his voice. In the New Year she is to start work with my gorgeous Conor and although I don’t know yet if he will learn to speak, I do know that Keira believes in him and will do her best to help him progress and succeed in all he is able to do.
I always think that Christmas time is a special time to be thankful for all the good you have in your life, to be thankful for the people who have helped you on your way through life, and for the people who never gave up on you, who would not stop believing in you.
I know that once Jack is able to say thank you he will say that to Keira himself, but for now on behalf of our happy little home to yours, we want to say Thank you to Keira Keogh and to all the other amazing Therapists who work tirelessly with children/adults with additional needs who need someone to believe in them, their potential, their ability, to give them hope.
Thank you Keira from my heart, to yours x
Thanks so much to Amanda for writing this for www.familyfriendlyhq.ie
Check out her blog- The Little Puddins Blog at www.littlepuddins.ie