We’ve had a very rough day. Little dude incredibly miserable, chesty, sounding hideous.

So without stopping to actually think about what I’m doing, I’m calling the hospital to let them know we’re on our way, packing his meds and a change of PJ’s (in case we end up staying in), grab favourite toy bear and get the little chap secured in the van.

I don’t really switch out of autopilot until I’m actually in the van and about to start driving, it’s a trip we have done many many times over the past few years but with practice (ha ha ha) we have it down to military precision.

So I’m driving along in the drizzle; one very poorly, very unhappy little man in the back. And it occurs to me that it would be so much easier if Sam could actually speak and TELL me what’s wrong. With his medical history, our out of hours Dr simply won’t deal with him, so we cut out the middle man now and take him straight to the children’s assessment unit at the hospital. Thank God for open access.

But this really irritates me. Take today for example – Sam’s had a foul head cold for a few days but today the cough has become far more productive, his temperature is going up and he’s crying every time he coughs. Mummy instinct says most likely the bug has gone on to his chest and he’s got a sore throat, possibly tonsillitis (although the little monkey won’t allow me to look in his mouth). If this was my niece, it would be a simple case of GP visit, confirm whether antibiotics are required or not and sent home to be looked after.

But in Sam's case, we’re off to hospital! It seems a terrible waste of the nurses and doctors time when they have children coming in from all over the county in ambulances, to have to check whether my boy has a throat/chest infection. But here we are, this is what we have to do. If Sam could tell me where it hurt, it would be so much easier to identify the problem. But when I stop to actually think things through, what I really wish he could do is communicate more clearly…most of human communication is non-verbal after all.

Sam CAN communicate, its one of his greatest achievements in the past year but it is still fairly limited – he will now nod or shake his head for yes and no, give us a thumbs up if we’re right and shows that he knows what the parts of his body are called. Yes and no.

Two of the smallest words in our language, but possibly some of the most useful to be able to communicate.

It means if we ask Sam something he can, in theory reply. However it can degenerate into something approaching a game of charades… for example, when you have to find out which bit hurts; Are you hurting? Nods. Ok, head hurting? (points to child’s head, head shakes no). OK, tummy? And so on until you’ve run out of body parts and said child is frustrated and in more pain than before because its taken you so long to identify the problem! Pass the calpol please someone.

If I can help him develop in one area over the coming months and years it will be to help his communication improve.

It opens our world when we can interact and communicate our thoughts, feelings, and needs. Tiny babies have the simplest communication, yet it is easily the most effective, i.e. cry. Doesn’t matter whats actually the issue, but if you cry LOUDLY your two principle care givers (and greatest fans) will come running to your aid as fast as they can.

For children like Sam who struggle with communication, very often it is this simplest way that gets them the attention they need but it is frustrating for them and us when we don’t understand what they actually WANT.

Makaton sign language is awesome as Sam struggles to use his hands, he can’t do many of the signs but he recognises them and with a simple yes or no, can more easily communicate to us what he wants/needs at that given time.

But it is still quite a hit and miss affair, and Heaven help us if we don’t know that correct makaton sign! And for what its actually worth – instinct was spot on, he does indeed have tonsillitis and a chest infection wink

Things you might like

Check out the Upsee

The mobility device changing people’s lives worldwide

Find out more

Other articles you might enjoy...

Special Needs

The Communication Diary: Let’s talk…

Do you ever feel a tinge of sorrow when you wave your child off to school, or somewhere…

Special Needs

Speech Therapy: Communication – the hard, slow revolution

​We are starting a communication revolution here. And we couldn’t be more…

Special Needs

When did life get so complicated?! Cars, motability and general ramblings…

OK, I’ll agree that I seem to make a habit of taking on too much. I’ll…

Survey icon

Public Opinion…

Does your child take ADHD medication?