I'm used to talking for Maya.
When she was younger, I would explain her thoughts . . . That noise means that she's hungry, She's looking in that direction because she wants the play doh on that bookcase. When she's at the playground, I translate for the other kids . . . She said that she'd like to hold the shovel, She stopped because she can't climb the stairs without help. Now that she's making more sounds, she tries to speak for herself, but it's unclear, so I still help out be re-stating . . . She said her favorite animal is the alligator, She said that her name is Maya.
But what if we got separated? What if she ended up in a crowded place, alone?
She's little enough to still be confined in a stroller or shopping cart most of the time that we're out & about, but that will change. Someday, sooner than I expect, she'll be walking through stores with me. If we become separated, if she gets lost, she can't ask for help.
She can't ask for help.
When I think about that, it makes my heart race a little.
She needs to be able to communicate in an emergency. She has to be able to say "I'm Maya. I can't talk, but I understand you. Please call my mom & dad at xxx-xxx-xxxx." Since she won't be able to say that with her mouth for quite some time, we're getting her a bracelet that will say it for her.
If you have a nonverbal child, you might want to think about picking up a medical alert item (bracelet, necklace, dog tag, zipper pull, shoe attachment, etc) that has your child's information and emergency phone numbers. I ordered Maya's this morning. I'm anticipating that it will be a struggle to get her used to having a bracelet on, but it will be worth it for the mega peace of mind that it brings.
By the way, I didn't come up with this idea on my own. It came from a book, one that I recommend to all parents of kids with special needs---or, to anyone who is a fan of Maya's and wants to hear more about what it's like to be the parent of a child who can't talk. The book is called Schuyler's Monster, by Robert Rummel-Hudson. I've never recommended a book on the blog before, but I recommend this one. I'm not an overly complimentary person, and I'm a picky reader, so you can trust me when I say that the book is great (as is his blog, here). Really great. After I read it, Dave read it. Then my mother, mother-in-law, and sister all read it. If you have a nonverbal child, you'll be nodding along, and if you don't, then you'll come away with a clearer understanding of some of our concerns, hopes, and struggles. Add it to your to-read list (or go get it right now for your Nook or Kindle).