Monday, March 15, 2010

Am I a Mother???

This is my first blog since last October, so much has happened in between but I will write about that some other time. I just felt that by blogging about this issue, it might help me get some clarity and move on from this particular stumbling block in my journey with Dr. Destructo.

Yesterday, Mother's Day, was a bad day for me. I am annoyed at myself for getting carried away again in the trappings of another hallmark holiday which seems to only bring pain. You think I would have learned from previous occasions but no, all gung ho to have a great Mother’s Day. P off work so all set for a day of relaxing and being spoiled. The day started off ok, I woke in great form. We had been to Dr. Destructo’s cousin’s party the previous day and he had a ball. Luckily the weather was good and they have a huge garden filled with all his favourites, sand pit, blocks, rubble, sticks and there was an endless supply of buns so he was happy. Due to all the ongoing hard work being done by his wonderful tutor and ourselves, the Doc is coming on in leaps and bounds. His understanding has improved, PECS & LAMH are working a treat, he is vocalising continuously and his social interation and eye contact are all coming on. It is tough going, the teaching is continuous and is not confined to the classroom. We need to be on toes all the time but it is all fun and we are energised and encouraged from the Doc’s progress. We love singing songs and telling stories and my heart soars watching him doing the actions to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

So why am I so upset? It’s such a silly thing. The Doc will not say Mam. He will not say Mama, Mammy, Mother, even Maaaaaaaa. We can prompt him to say most sounds, the Speech & Language Therapist told us that certain letters are the last to come but M is not one of those. The Doc also has some unprompted words, bun, drink, egg to name a few and he will use these in the appropriate setting. He is copping on to the fact that words bring rewards, requests using words are celebrated and the item is handed over without question. During his tasks he can pick out random items such as watering can or apron, he learns the names of new characters from programs in an instant, he can point out the word ‘dvd’ on any publication and we are often amazed at his vocabulary. I cannot get my head around this refusal to say Mama. Is it that he doesn’t know what a Mama is? Who does he think I am? If I left would he even remember or miss me? I know he gets upset if he sees me getting into the car or leaving the house so I usually get P to distract him so I can sneak out. When I come home he is super happy to see me. Some days he is welded to me and just loves to be hugged and cuddled. If both of us are in the house with Doc, I would be his preferred option. When he comes into our bed, he sleeps on my head. When he is sick, he only wants me. We have our own little special games that we play and he hops onto my lap to initiate them. Sometimes he thinks I am hilarious and I might just be singing the radio ad theme tune to him. I know the Doc loves me, if P goes to get him up in the morning he looks around him to see where I am. So why can’t he just say Mama? Our tutor is working hard on this; I think she knows how upsetting it is for me. When we first realised that there was a problem with the Doc, we brought him to a Speech & Language therapist and she remarked that he is just using me to fulfil his needs. This has stuck with me since that day in January 2009.

I was never a very maternal person. I love all our nieces and nephews but would only spend a limited amount of time playing with them. I certainly never had any interest in small babies. I enjoyed when they got to about six months and became chubby and giggly. Being the eldest of eleven, you think things would be different. But I would be sitting in the corner reading and my sister next to me would be feeding a younger one their bottle or dinner. I am a good big sister though, I loved spoiling the younger ones and when I started working, every weekend I would bring them home treats. So the decision to have a child wasn’t one that came naturally to me. I realised that I wanted to have a child, but just the one. P was happy with this, he is the opposite of me and really loves all children but we talked things over and decided to try for our baby after enjoying the good life for a few years. I got pregnant fairly quickly and I was hooked straightaway. Pregnancy was fine, we had a lovely time watching box sets and eating biscuits. I missed not drinking but certainly enjoyed eating all around me. The birth was tricky enough but when Dr. Destructo popped out, I fell in love with this 8lb 11oz bundle and became a mother. Or so I thought.

The Doc was our number one priority. We made sure all his needs were met and he was, and still is, a fairly placid little dude. We established a good routine which I think he has benefited from. Touch wood we have had no major tantrums to date and we can distract him easily enough when he becomes upset. Our tutor is surprised that he is so easy going but I think it is because we don’t push it with him. We expose him to all aspects of life but if it becomes apparent that he is bored or becoming stressed we take him home. He gets our full attention and we are fully committed to his Home Tuition program. As a mother, I’m not sure what else I can do. I think I have covered all the bases in providing motherly services but then again maybe my early non-maternal instincts are still lodged somewhere and preventing me from crossing the final hurdle into motherhood. Perhaps the Doc has picked up on this? I honestly don’t think this is true because words cannot express the love I have for the Doc. I would literally die for him. I have changed in unimaginable ways since he was born. I enjoy all the motherhood chores, I love dressing and undressing him. I’m not fussed when he gets dirty; I love to see him running into the kitchen to me when he has finished with his tutor for the day, covered in paint or top wet from water play. I sing Ireland’s Call to him when I am putting his rugby jersey on and he recognises the song and raises his arm to ‘Ireland’. I challenge him constantly and get him involved in baking or even emptying the dishwasher. I love nothing better than just pottering around the house with the Doc. If I’m tidying and he comes over to pull me down for a cuddle or show me something I give him my undivided attention. I rarely get cross with him and I seem to have developed patience from somewhere. So I am doing all the motherly things and enjoying all the responsibilities. I worry constantly about the Doc and his future. I am nearly fully accepting of his Autism apart from days like yesterday.

Children seem to call for their mama from an early age, it seems to come so naturally. I know because of Dr. Destructo’s ASD, things which come naturally to other children need to be taught to him. He is learning at a fierce rate but there seems to be a roadblock when it comes to saying Mama. I want him to call me when he wakes in the morning instead of whinging at his room door until I come. I want him to call me from across the room instead of pretending to fall down so I will run over to him. I have to believe that he knows I am special to him and not just a convenient care giver. I have to believe that he is not using me to fulfil his needs. I was angry yesterday and hurting because Dr. Destructo has never called me Mammy. I ruined the day for myself by dwelling on this one thing.

The good thing is we can look forward to Easter because for some strange reason the Doc is fascinated with eggs. Whenever we go visiting he checks everyone’s fridges for them, he loves to hold them, he becomes excited by the displays in the supermarkets, and we have to keep moving ours from different presses so he won’t find them. Egg is one of his unprompted words and we dance around the kitchen when he says it. But it's hard to stomach being lower down the language pecking order than an egg.

It is one thing that will truly break my heart if the Doc doesn’t call me Mam. I think I can cope with everything else. I think.


  1. Oh Trish, the heartache you are experiencing rang out from your every word i dono wot to say missus i really hope this happens for ya soon xox
    Wot u've gotta be really proud of is dat you are the best mother d doc could possibly ask for, his eyes shine bright when he looks n' plays with ya, he beams when he's with you and your bond is so strong nothing could break it. Sending you lots n' lots of virtual hugs xox

  2. welcome back to blogger btw, keep dem coming yer amazing xox

  3. Reading this made me remember how utterly sad I was too that Munchkin didn't call me Mama. She had it breifly before losing her words after her seizures at 14 months and even though she developed a great vocabulary through my home program and early intervention, Mama was not forthcoming. She had lots of unprompted words by the time I gained my title back, but she never called me Mama again. One day, she just called me Mummy (a la peppa pig). She was almost 2.5 at the time so intervention had been in place for what seemed like forever. Its really not uncommon for our littlies not to say the one word we crave for most in this world. I'm not sure how exactly to explain it, but using Mama is abstract in a way for them. Its a name, and when you are there, why would they use it. When you have a communication difficulty, asking for items not present is difficult and to ask Mama? is the equivalent of him saying "wheres mummy?". You know by his actions he loves you. Don't get hung up on what a professional told you in his early assessment. When hes sad he comes to you, when he's happy he sings along with you and you clearly have some joint control going on with him. Just give him time. I know its hard to be patient, but its easier to learn to tact items and objects. And yes, characters on the telly and in books are easier to learn to use as he's just labelling them. When he uses your names, it is part of communicating and a bigger picture.


  4. Same in this house. You know the way you said the SLT told you Doc was using you to fulfil his needs? I was told HRH was not interacting with me, he was using me.

    I am struggling to find the right thing to say and tbh, I don't think there is a right thing. I do understand, I do get it. What I do see from you post too is that the Doc would not be the boy he is without you. Its YOU he wants (then P), my husband has to distract HRH while I am leaving aswell as he gets distraught. I can imagine it in your house too.

    Ok, HRH doesn't call me YET, but he will, when he needs to. My son does not do anything unless he sees a need for it. I am always here so why would he call me? (thats how I choose to look at it for now).

    I don't know if that will help, I really don't want to appear like I am brushing aside how painful this is, I wouldn't do that because I know exactly what it is like. Our boys are so close in age and very alike by the sounds of it:)

    The bond BM mentioned? I can see it, even in your post:)


  5. hi what a fantastic blog my son is now 8 and autistic he never spoke nor called me anything till 2 years ago now he never stops calling me mammy its unreal and i am sure this will happen to you too and remember one thing your little guy knows exactly who you are and loves you no matter how you feel I often wondered if i meant nothing to my son but believe me he knows you very well and he loves you to bits too hope this helps and you sound so adorable and a fantastic mum too so dont be so hard on yourself it will happen xx

  6. He loves you. You are NOT a tool for him. That he is falling over to get your attention is his language for saying "mummy". My son did the same and also didn't say anything like Mum for ages. ASD kids do not use language the same way. The joy he feels when... See more you come home - thats his language. The fun he has playing your special games - thats his language. The fear he feels when you are not there - thats his voice honey. He will find his words and one day will tell you what an awesome Mum you are and how special your bond is. When my son started saying it he actually called me "mum-mum" and his father "dad-mum" which was really cute as in his world the word MUM was the ultimate care giver. Our kids speak differently... hear his language hun and feel loved, appreciated and special.

    Narelle Clarkson

  7. he is not threatened by the fact if he does not ask for he won't get you, he has no need to call you as you are there, he does not need for the word mama, mama is just a WORD like any other, in his head you are more than mama, you are security, love and everything he needs and wants
    I too have never heard this or any other word from Luca, I think he did say it. Early on but I honestly cannot remember but what's important for me Is not the words, it's the gestures, smiles and laughs, the cuddles and and the non verbal everythings, I learned a long time ago that words are nothing it's the emotions and gentures that mean everything
    I know it's hard but your son loves and needs you, don't be so hard on your self
    hugs Hun xxxxx

  8. wow what a blog. your words paint a picture and wow it really hits home. this is difficult for you but have faith and it will come. he sounds like the luckiest boy ever to have the love support encouragement and care that you give his early intervention and sheer determination from you guys is unreal, your doing above and beyond to create a confident independent and happy little boy. your a marvelous mama. and happy mothers day, your fabulous.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I was really touched by your honesty. My son is 7 now and I don't remember when he first started saying Mommy, around 4 maybe? Now he will say it a lot but he certainly does not use names in a way that is quite typical. Even until a year ago, he would usually just say 'hi' to people and not really use their name. I honestly think it is just a hard concept for these kids to grasp. You are a wonderful mother, it is so obvious from everything you write. Your little boy is so smart because he knows that can't be expressed in a single word! He will say it soon, don't worry, sounds like he is making fantastic progress! P.S. You don't know me but I had your blog in my reader and I just wanted to comment :)

  10. Another amazing blog Patsy. Don't get so hung up on such a small word. Take the positives from the doc's actions and progress. He's the best in the world, and thats down to you being a great mum and P being a great dad.You are amazing parents. The doc knows your his mam and he expresses his love for you everyday in his way.
    P.S, as for that statement from the S&L therapist, you and i both know that people in their "professional opinion" can and have been wrong.
    Chat to you soon. T xxx

  11. perhaps the doc doesn't need to say "mama" because you're always available?
    we make our kids ask for what they want by making it unavailable (works a treat in our house for juice/biscuits/dvds etc), but naturally as a mum you are always there for your child.
    This is as it should be and I'm not for a moment suggesting that you make yourself unavailable to him...but maybe don't be so hard on yourself XXX
    P's great to see you blogging again xxx

  12. mmmmmammmm and daddddda are just sounds - which in the context of an english speaking household are reinforced by the reactions of the people around the speaker. In a japanese or hindi household - no one would blink an eye and the sound would not be repeated or noticed.

    Boo did not say mummy until he was 4 1/2, Bratty did not say it until she was 6. But both say Mummy - not Mam - which showed that they were saying it for me, and not as a "word"
    it was my "name"

    You can prompt this doing a tacting program. have 6-8 cards made up and include a lot of tv favourites on the cards with the word underneath.

    Teach give me, show me, point to and just hold it up and prompt the name of the picture Bob, Elmo, Dog, and Mummy/mammy/mom with a picture of you.
    Give a tangible reward for ANY approximation of mmmmummma and keep that reward in your pocket.

    Reactions are not enough for our kids - you need to teach them the value of names and language. Your guy can read - wear a name tag!! and point to it all the time (with a pocket full of jellies)

    It will come, I promise!!!


    (and feck mother's day, total rook)

  13. I agree with all of the comments above. Know that your son knows who you are and how important you are. Although my son with A.S. had language from an early age, I used to despair about his inability to treat anyting or anyone (including me), with the same level of interest and passion with which he cherished his own obsessional interests and routines. He is 16 now and says "hey mum, remember when you used to say that your head could be hanging off and I wouldn't have noticed, or you could have been choking to death and I would still be repeating who had what colour light sabre in Star Wars?" Then he gives me a hug! The biggest lesson I have learned from having this incredible person in my life is prepare to be surprised..always!