The thing that gets me sometimes is whether he understands the depth of love I feel for him. With my other children, I can tell them easily. They understand clearly that daddy loves them, that daddy adores them. Knowing unconditional love involves some level of shared response and cognitive processing.
My son can communicate the things he needs. We’ve got the basic needs down. Through verbal and physical cues, I know when he’s hungry, needs changing, or wants affection. But again, how much does he understand from me?
I find solace at bath time. Every night after I give him a bath, I make it a point to let him know a few things. I tell him how much I love him and how smart he is. He hears how good-looking he is (we’re a pretty vain family). And then I tell him how much his mother and I prayed for a child just like him in our lives. I want him to know how valued he is. I need him to know that.
And the fun part is that every time I tell him, he gets a huge smile on his face. He giggles uncontrollably and does everything in his power to come a little closer to me.
In these moments, I realize that just maybe I’m underestimating how much he understands. That perhaps I don’t need that reciprocal communication for him to really know the depth of our love for him. That maybe love is one of those non-verbal communications, which suits my son quite well.
I need him to know how much I love him. Sometimes I get stuck thinking that the only way to help him understand is to tell him. But saying “I love you” is one moment of one day. When every minute of every day, I show love in how I care for him.
And it seems to be working. Because no matter how much I doubt myself, I think he totally understands.
This site’s section on Family Support offers information and ideas for families of children with disabilities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.